For decades Jim Henson was able to use television to bring the art of puppetry to massive audiences in a very intimate way on programs like Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. Because of his work, beautiful and masterfully crafted creatures were beamed into homes for years and ensured the popularity of puppets for generations.
Earlier this week his son, Jim Henson Company chairman Brian Henson, gave a TED master class in Vancouver on just how the company his father founded is using technology to bring the future of puppetry to those new generations. The talk featured a live performance of an animatronic version of Rygel—an alien character from the show Farscape—as well as a CGI “digital puppet” controlled by hand.
“As soon as we could use things like radio-controlled servos, we started using them,” Henson says. “As soon as we could use computers to help perform our creatures, we used them.”
In addition to bringing puppetry into the 21st century, Henson is also appearing in the Syfy show Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, a reality show competition that focuses on puppet designers.
To find out more about the show, and the Jim Henson Company’s plans for the future of puppets watch the video below.