Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dark Crystal: Behind the Scenes

When Netflix released the fantasy series "Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance," they also shared a behind-the-scenes documentary called "Crystal Calls: The Making of Dark Crystal." 

Image from Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, courtesy Netflix

The feature-length program explores how the new production builds on the vision of Jim Henson's original film from over 30 years ago. 

In some initial tests, producers explored the idea of realizing the main Gelfling characters with CGI, pairing digital characters with real puppets for the reptilian Skeksis

But the CGI and physical puppets didn't pair up convincingly onscreen, so they decided to make them all as physical puppets.

Most of the movements and expressions are manipulated by the performer. There's also some radio control and cable control, and a few of the blinks and other expressions are added digitally. 

The production enlisted some of the best puppeteers at the top of their game, and even had a guest appearance from Barnaby Dixon, who has invented a new way to puppeteer with his fingertips. 

In addition to making all the puppet characters, the production required elaborate handmade sets and props.

Several of the key creative people from the original Henson production were recruited to the Netflix show, including Brian and Wendy Froud, who sketched and sculpted concepts for the characters and costumes. All images ©copyright their respective owners.
On Netflix: 
"Crystal Calls: The Making of Dark Crystal"
• The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: Inside the Epic Return to Thra
• The World of The Dark Crystal
• The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History
Exhibit: Creatures from the Land of Thra: Character Design for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Courtesy of Netflix


Angeline said...

I ADORE The Dark Crystal!!!!
I had no idea some of the characters were so small.
Thank you so much for sharing. I love love love love the series, too!!!!!

Pierre Fontaine said...

Barnaby Dixon's puppets are very clever, essentially very sophisticated finger puppets. His website and YouTube videos are truly fascinating. I'm guessing these specific puppets were used for very specific shots considering that they look like smaller versions of some of the main characters.

I'm glad they were committed to using puppets rather than going CGI or attempting to combine the two as the article suggests.

Phil McDonnell said...

The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY has opened an exhibition called Creatures from the Land of Three: Character Design for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. You may learn about it here:

It runs through 23 February.

MoMI also has a permanent Jim Henson exhibition celebrating The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, the Muppets, and his many other creations.

Well worth the visit if you're anywhere near New York City.