Studio Reveals Efforts Behind New Puppet Film

Local production studio Pili International Multimedia has released a behind-the-scenes video of their upcoming fantasy film Demigod: The Legend Begins, which has a cast of Taiwanese hand puppets.

The film, which will be released on Friday next week, stars the studio’s iconic hand puppet character, Su Huan-jen (素還真), whose name is also the film’s Chinese title.

The company is known for producing television programs and movies using only traditional Taiwanese glove puppets. He began posting behind-the-scenes featurettes to promote the film on YouTube in October last year.

Photo courtesy of Vie Vision Pictures Co

The video released on Tuesday shows the studio’s attention to detail in constructing film sets and its use of practical effects rather than computer-generated imagery.

The studio said it created new realistic sets to better match the size of the hand puppets, which are 80-90cm tall, a departure from its standard approach to creating weekly TV series.

Standard sets usually mimic a puppet scene, which limits the camera angles that can be used, while new sets allow for greater flexibility when filming, said studio general manager Huang Liang-hsun (黃亮勛).

The studio said its art department created detailed, weathered sets that looked more realistic when paired with the lighting used in the movies.

One of the sets, which cost around NT$1 million ($36,200), was set on fire to achieve the realism needed for a scene, he said.

“We made sure that all scenes in this set were completed and no reshoots were needed before turning it on,” director Cheng Pao-Pin (鄭保品) said. “We were very nervous, given that we only had one shot and had to make sure the picture looked good and our puppeteers were safe.”

“The realistic fire movements captured using high-resolution cameras was something that couldn’t be replicated with special effects, and we were very pleased with the results,” Huang said.

In addition to hiring Japanese tokusatsu expert Kakusei Fujiwara to help craft the costumes worn by real actors to create the illusion of gigantic mythical beasts, the studio also spent around three months completing a 48-second scene. .

Tokusatsu is a Japanese term for a live-action movie or television drama that makes heavy use of special effects.

The scene features a beast, the Swordtail Qilin, with saliva oozing from its mouth.

The need for meticulous computer calculations and subsequent simulations was why it took so long to complete, the studio said.

The studio’s last two puppet films, released in 2000 and 2015, earned NT$150 million and NT$20 million respectively at the local box office.

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