In recent years we've been seeing a lot of puppets with translucent skin - silicone mostly, and now the RP human faces in Paranorman (apparently made largely from superglue?). 

I have somewhat mixed feelings on the subject. First, I totally understand the wow factor - as soon as silicone became a viable material for making puppet skin it became possible to make it look translucent, which we often hear is more realistic and actually mimics the way human skin reacts to light. I understand a rush to really make the puppets look spectacularly different when this first became possible. But it's not new anymore - i'ts lost the novelty now, and I find I often dislike the look of it - not across the board, but I just think the translucency is overdone to create an unusual look - a look that was obviously impossible in pre-silicone days.

Human skin can be somewhat translucent. Usually only in newborn babies (not even the majority of them really - they have to audition a lot of babies to find the right ones for those skin cream commercials). The vast majority of people have pretty opaque skin. In fact (just discovered this from the Making of ParaNorman book) it's even standard operating precedure in live action movies to sometimes put tape behind an actor's ears in strongly backlit shots because the light glowing redly through the ears can be very distracting and make people laugh when they're not supposed to. 

When the translucency is overdone it makes me think of weird alien creatures - 

I used to sculpt with the original pink supersculpey a lot, and then I learned that pro sculptors hate it because it's translucent (to try to make it look more like "human" skin apparently!) and as a result you can't see the imperfections on the surface - nor can you see the textures and details you're trying to sculpt. These don't show up until you either paint the sculpt or make a casting of it - by which point it's too late to fix anything! As soon as I got a pasta machine and started kneading opaque polymers into the pink SS I immediately saw the difference, and it was like night and day! Suddenly there was a surface! I hadn't realized until that moment that the super sculpey had this weird no-skin type of effect, and as soon as I did realize it I never went back. Personally I like texture, and since people all seem to have texture to their skin (though we try to minimize it to make women look prettier - if it wasn't there we wouldn't need to do that, would we?). 

And I'm not saying I don't like silicone for puppet skins - not at all! I'm just saying I'd like to see the puppet departments put a little more pigment into the skin, unless they're making some kind of weird creature that spent its life in an underwater cave or maybe a newborn baby or an Irish woman with an amazingly fragile complexion.

In the words of Jeff Goldblum "You were so busy figuring out how to do it you never stopped to ask if you should!"

So what do ye all think? Yay or nay to extreme translucency? And why? 

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Yeah, I thought so. ;)

Edit: Oh, I see what you did thar.

Lol not sure exactly what I did thar, but you made me realize if it was a site with normal people I wouldn't fit in! 

It reminds me a great deal of the old board. 

What I thought you did thar was imply that you didn't care that we lived in basements. But then I read it again and realized you were insinuating that you also lived in a basement. Which made it even funnier. *lol*


So anyway...  I finally saw ParaNorman (!!!!!!!) and have to say I still think there's something a little creepy about the skin. 

Yes, it is an art direction issue related to the color and translucency. The zombies were fabulous...as were the other characters, I should quickly add...but there is something about them - especially around the mouth, that I just don't care for.

I guess it's not a silicone issue, as the faces were apparently the epoxy stuff™, but it was just a teensy bit off-putting. Can't really put my finger on it.

Didn't matter in this case, as I LOVED the movie. Much better than Coraline. But that's for a different thread.

I didn't like the lip gloss... But then again, I don't like lip gloss on real people. Someone must have said, "hey wouldn't it be neat to invent a makeup that makes it look like you're drooling?"  And someone else must have said, "sure! The drool look is SEXY."

But if the puppets wore lip gloss to poke fun at people who wear it, then I like it. 

The zombies, in general, looked more visually attractive than the humans. I think that was a deliberate artistic statement on the part of the filmmakers. The dad's face skin was extremely life-like and it was like you could see every pore. Very interesting design for the film, this mix of hyper-realism and cartooniness.

Ha. Yeah, I reacted (and react) to the lip gloss the same way. It definitely suited her character, however. 

I saw the movie at an Arclight Cinema that had excellent digital projection. I wonder if the skin would have had the same impact if I'd seen it projected on film? I guess it's the same as watching the local TV news in HD. I really don't need to see the anchor's pores.

You know, now that you guys mention lip gloss, I suppose part of my negative reaction to the tooth brush scene might be due to the whole 'foaming at the mouth' thing. A clammy, damp-looking translucent child with foam dripping from his mouth - yeah, that's the stuff of nightmares there. Normally when you see a sight like that it means you're about to get climbed on. It might actually BE more frightening than the zombies.. 

Geez I'm feeling left out -  didn't see this thread until it was already on page 5, still have to wait weeks for PN to open here, and we don't have basements in Aussie houses so I can't be a fully fledged weird basement person!  

I prefer a lesser amount of translucency for my silicone human puppets - but would go the full translucent effect if I had to make a jellyfish.  I put more pigment in the outer skin layers when I cast my silicone heads, it's not just the paint added on after.  I'd be just as happy sticking with foam latex for all my puppets, if it weren't for the wrinkling, which is fine for some characters and a disaster for others.

From the stills and trailer I've seen, Norman's  face is generally a bit slicker than I like for puppets, the translucency is just one aspect of that.  I found the Coraline to be too slick and similar in style to several cgi film characters as well,  so it's just a personal taste.  I think I also like the look of the zombies better.  Can't say more until I can actually see PN on the big screen in all its glory.  

There is a practical reason for going a bit more opaque too - easier to hide armature wire close to the skin.  And with a clear cast, whatever it's made of, it's a lot harder to do repairs and patch holes without it showing.  

Awww, welcome to the conversation, Nick!

Grecodan- I thought it was pretty funny when the mom wore lip gloss. This saggy-cheeked, sad-eyed, swollen-necked little lady, with lip gloss. Seeing that character was like people-watching at Wal-Mart. This post has a lot of hyphens.

God damn spoilers...!

Hey, I'm not talkin' about anything you can't see in the trailers!

StopmoNick said:

From the stills and trailer I've seen, Norman's  face is generally a bit slicker than I like for puppets, the translucency is just one aspect of that.  I found the Coraline to be too slick and similar in style to several cgi film characters as well,  so it's just a personal taste.  I think I also like the look of the zombies better.  Can't say more until I can actually see PN on the big screen in all its glory.
When I saw Coraline I didn't know that it was stop-motion (I guess I was living under a rock), I thought it was CGI. I guess the amazing facial performances made it hard for me to believe it was stop-mo.
The facial animation in both Paranorman and Coraline does look a bit CGIish to me. I'm not sure if it is because the faces were designed and posed via computer or if it's just because the range of expressions is much greater than I was expecting.
I hesitated to mention this because these films are such incredible achievements. I guess I really intend this as an observation, not a criticism.

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