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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dennis Muren, A.S.C. Creative Direction & Visual Effects Supervisor by KingRichard76

KingRichard76, a great friend and contributor to MuppetsHenson, has submitted a great new article for all to read concerning his meeting with Dennis Muren, A.S.C. Creative Direction & Visual Effects Supervisor at ILM. Enjoy!

Dennis Muren, A.S.C. Creative Direction & Visual Effects Supervisor 

Within life we find ourselves inspired by artists of every calibre, especially from those within the performing arts, those whom are gifted with a vision that they are generous to share with an appreciative audience.

Jim Henson, Steve Whitmire, Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Lucas, John Williams, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl and Wolfgang Peterson are nine such names who's talents have enthralled audiences over the decades and whose work will always be fondly remembered.

As well as these wonderful people there's one person who's creative mind, expertise and vision has set about changing the look of visual effects in modern movies since 1976, a man of such creativity that some of the most iconic scenes in modern day cinema are due to him.

Dennis Muren ASC is a LEGENDary visual effects artist who worked with George Lucas (Founder of Industrial Light and Magic or ILM for short) on the first Star Wars movie 1977, A New Hope, this followed with Empire and Jedi as well as working with Spielberg on E.T. Indiana Jones- the list is endless... He has more Oscars than Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks combined.

The Abyss and Terminator 2 for James Cameron and then in '91 for Spielberg's Jurassic Park (Dennis was responsible for realizing the imagination of Spielberg by bringing the CG dinosaurs to life - this then led to George Lucas bringing out the Star Wars special editions - in short computer generated images took over the industry and make the visions of filmmakers like JJ Abrams a reality (most recently in Star Wars Ep7 The Force Awakens)

At an early age I was always very interested in watching the documentaries for Star Wars and seeing Mr. Muren at work, in early 1996 I'd written to ITV after they had shown a documentary showcasing some of Mr. Muren's work in "Lights, Camera, Action!" to see if I could get his autograph.

Then in 2002 on a brief trip to L.A. I went to see Mr. Muren's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and thought that would be the closest I'd ever get to a true legend.

In the past I used to attend sci-fi conventions and got to meet those from within the Star Wars universe and knew that Mr. Muren would never be at a convention to sign...

A few weeks ago I found out that he was going to be doing a talk at the British. Film. Institute, London Film Festival with fellow ILMers David Vickery and Kevin Jenkins entitled "Behind the Magic of ILM" was really looking forward to this as this was a hope for opportunity to meet Dennis.

Wasn't too sure how he would feel about signing autographs, if he would be ok with it and had to choose what to take with me for him to sign - I had some "priority" items which I knew really would have been awesome to get Dennis to sign and wondered on what to take.

October 2nd, week beginning was a week long remembered in so many ways - Friday 7th October I travelled up to the BFI in London wearing my ILM Tshirt, was sat in the front row for the talk and was really interesting listening to Nancy (Tartaglione) talking to Dennis, David and Kevin - at one point during the show the questions were opened up to the audience, I had already chosen what to ask beforehand but when I was given the mic and started to address Dennis (whom was wearing a rather snazzy pair of trainers) I kinda slipped up, his answer to my question was wonderful to hear :)



After the show the audience began to leave NFT 1, and outside a massive crowd had gathered, there was no pushing or shoving, no bickering, absolute silence as Mr. Muren met both aficionados and fans alike, in that moment Mr. Muren could have thought to himself "Wait, who are all these people waiting for? Have the Rolling Stones reunited?" but let's face it, all these fans were glad to be in the presence of a motion picture Magician, I guess there must have been at least thirty to forty people waiting to meet/say "Hi"/get Mr. Murens autograph/or a photo, his height saw him tower above everyone as his good nature saw everyone in awe.

Yes, I admit I had quite a few pieces for Mr. Muren to sign and was conscious of the amount of fellow fans who also had bits for him to sign and was amazed that he signed all that he did - he had no problems posing for pictures which was a real delight, and I chose to ask if he'd be ok to wear my Fedora (with Mr. Muren wearing it it reminded me of his very iconic cameo in Raiders) What an honour that moment was and a funny one too.

Travelling back home afterwards one couldn't help but feel as though Christmas had come early, they say that you should never meet your heroes- in this case so many of us are glad that we did, if anything, just to thank the man that brought such iconic moments to the big screen and have wowed generations of filmgoers and continue to do so.

I think for so many of us Friday 7th October 2016 will be a day long remembered.


Many thankies to Dennis Muren, Nancy Tartaglione, David Vickery, Kevin Jenkins, Aimie Drinkwater, Christopher Wilson, David Simpson, Bunny Summers, Lea (from Ace Comics Southend) Boyles and Nate "Good Things Come To Those Who Wait"

Monday, October 10, 2016

"Fraggle Rock" Returns to HBO

"Fraggle Rock", Jim Henson’s beloved 1980's series, is headed back to HBO in HD, EW has confirmed.

The show originally debuted on HBO in 1983, and lasted five seasons and 96 episodes. It will make its digitally remastered return to the network later this year.

Fraggle Rock follows the lives of three different puppet creatures: the Fraggles, quirky cave-dwellers who love to explore, the Doozers, small, ant-like creatures who devote their lives to construction working, and the Gorgs, a large family of farmers. Each episode features original songs from all different genres including folk, blues, gospel, country, and rock, while embracing kid-friendly themes like friendship, tolerance, diversity, and caring for the planet.

“In remastering the series, illuminate has created a contemporary look for the series with meticulous attention paid to every detail — sharpening the images, cleaning up the contrast, increasing the vibrancy of the colors and re-formatting for wide-screen — all under the careful supervision of Brian Henson,” Richard Goldsmith, EVP of Global Distribution for The Jim Henson Company said in a statement. “We’ll engage a whole new audience who will love meeting the Fraggles, Gorgs, and Doozers.”

Fraggle Rock’s return is set to come in late 2016.

Monday, October 03, 2016

VIDEO: Debut of 'The Muppets Present ... Great Moments in American History' at Walt Disney World

The Magic Kingdom recently turned 45, and on Sunday October 2nd, it opened its most significant new attraction in more than two years. "The Muppets Present ... Great Moments in American History" made its debut at 9:30am in the park's Liberty Square area, just outside the classic Hall of Presidents attraction. 

It's a live show featuring Muppets staged in the second-story windows of Liberty Square's Heritage House and a live actor -- a singing male actor who engages with the audience and the Muppets as the town crier. The show will run at least five times a day.

The Muppets-themed show becomes the first addition to the park that isn't a quickly pieced-together stage show or parade since the Se
ven Dwarfs Mine Train opened 29 months ago.

There are two different shows: The midnight ride of Paul Revere and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The shows run multiple times daily and feature an original song.

Here’s a look at the shows: 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"The Muppets Present ... Great Moments in American History" Debuts at the Magic Kingdom on October 2nd

From the Disney Parks website:

Great news for all you Muppets fans out there! Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and The Great Gonzo arrive at Magic Kingdom Park on October 2 for the opening of their all-new, live show “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History.” Hosted by James “J.J.” Jefferson, town crier of Liberty Square, and Sam Eagle, the fiercely patriotic American eagle who is forever trying to set a high moral standard for the Muppets, this wacky new show is set to take place several times daily, just outside The Hall of Presidents.

Throughout the day, J.J. and the Muppets share their own unique take on the founding fathers as they recount the tale of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, complete with an original song and plenty of humor. At other times, you may catch the Muppets’ version of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, presented in hysterical fashion as only they can.

If you like some hijinks with your history, be sure to check out “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History” this fall at Walt Disney World Resort!

Funko's "The Dark Crystal" ReAction Figures Revealed

Funko has revealed its upcoming line of ReAction figures from Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s 1982 fantasy adventure "The Dark Crystal" which includes Jen, Kira, Aughra the Astronomer, The Chamberlain and UrSol the Chanter.

Collect them all and assemble a special figure: the crystal itself!

Scheduled for release November, 2016

A Look Inside the Henson Studios and the Making of "Splash and Bubbles"

It's animation like you've probably never seen it. Jim Henson's Studio is using the latest technology to make their characters in their show 'Splash and Bubbles' come alive.

It takes puppetry and animation and it combines it.

It's a marine biology show told through four fish friends. But it takes two people to bring each fish to life.

"It's about learning each others rhythm and breathing," says show creator John Tartaglia.

Tartaglia plays half of the character, Splash.

"Our double performers are out on the floor, playing the characters. And inside the computers, the combining the faces and body to together to create one character," said Tartaglia.

That one character has a dimension that just a computer couldn't give it.

When he's digitally puppeteering, his right hand does the front fin and lip movements movements. His left controls the eyes and eyebrows

"It's like playing a one man organ where everything is working in different ways and different times and all to create this face on the screen," said Tartaglia.

They have foot pedals too for some of the more emotional movements.

"This one two approach of all of it being done by puppeteers is really new to us," said Lisa Henson, the company's CEO and the late Jim Henson's daughter.

A new technique the creators hope kids don't think about too much, but feel, says Henson.

"The difference comes through in the performance in the likability of the characters how kids relate to the characters because they're very alive...and that quality feels different," said Henson.

She says the seeds of the technology, came from one of Henson's very own last projects.

"My father was incredibly fascinated by computer animation so one of his last projects was a 3D movie for the Disney parks," said Henson.

'Splash and Bubbles' premieres on PBS KIDS November 23rd.

A Third Volume of BOOM! Studios' Jim Henson's The Storyteller Coming in December

A third volume of BOOM! Studios' Jim Henson's The Storyteller anthology title has been announced, subtitled Giants. With original stories as well as retelling of folktales, Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Giants begins in December with an adaptation of "the Peach's Son" by writer/artist Conor Nolan.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Giants #1 (of 4)
Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Conor Nolan
Artist: Conor Nolan
Cover artist: Conor Nolan
Format: 32 pages, full color
Price: $3.99
On sale: December 7, 2016

Synopsis: Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Giants is a collection of mythic tales of when giants roamed the Earth, inspired by folklore from around the world and told in the spirit of Jim Henson’s beloved television series.

In this first issue, rising newcomer Conor Nolan reimagines the “The Peach’s Son,” a Japanese tale of a giant who was raised by humans but never accepted by them. When a nearby village is overrun with evil beings, the giant will take a chance tobe a hero and prove himself to be part of the community he calls home.

Upcoming issues will include stories by Brandon Dayton, Jared Cullum, and Feifei Ruan.