Sunday, October 23, 2005

Henson takes Puppetry To The Next Level with "Frances"

The Jim Henson Company is preparing to release a brand new-ground-breaking children’s series. Henson has teamed up with HIT Entertainment to bring the beloved classic storybook character of Frances to life. The company produced a one-shot special, earlier this year. After seeing the results of the new technology and characters, executives and viewers at Henson, HIT, and the industry were ecstatic and excited and decided to turn the production into a continuing series.

The show is based off the classic children’s book series by Russell Hoban and illustrator Lillian Hoban (known to Muppet fans as the author/illustrator team behind the original book “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas”). Each episode of “Frances” holds three delightful stories all about taking on the challenges of childhood; and if there is anyone who is ready to take on that challenge, it’s Frances (who, by the way, is an adorable little badger). With a song and a dance, she’ll find a solution to any problem with the help of her Mom, her Dad, her little sister Gloria, and her best friend Albert. Aside from the touching stories, wonderful characters, and fun songs, the series will showcase a brand-new ground-breaking puppet technology.

Brian Henson, director of the Frances pilot and Co-CEO of the Henson Company, talked about the technology built to create this ground breaking show in September. “The technology we’ve developed allows a puppeteer to puppeteer/perform a character that is being animated in real time”, Brian stated. “If you go into one of our puppeteer-animation sound stages, which there is only one of, you would see what feels like a real operating live-action set, and the puppeteers are performing – one puppeteer is performing the body, one is puppeteer is performing the head and voice – and what we’re getting is these wonderful organic performances. The computer is not doing any animation. The computer is not allowed move anything; only people can move anything. So there’s a camera operator, moving our virtual camera, and there are performers who are puppeteering the bodies and the heads of the character.”

Brian expressed his feelings towards the experience of directing the show by saying, “we’re having, I got to say, so much fun; because we can improvise...What’s great about puppets are that they are spontaneous, and what we’re trying to do in our 3-D animation, is to really be spontaneous. So we’re really working the material in front of the camera. And we have big projectors, so they can see what [the computer] sees. We’re doing performed animation, and it’s a lot of fun.”

HIT Entertainment will let you “get in touch with your inner-Frances”, when they release the first two Frances video titles, “Bedtime for Frances” and “Bread and Jam for Frances”, on DVD and VHS on January 26, 2006. You can already pre-order these titles at many online stores, with a suggested retail price of $11.99 (or less). Other plans for the show and the series are not available at this time; however HIT and Henson feel that this will become an instant classic that audiences of all ages will love and enjoy. A preview of this show can be found on the new "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" collector's DVD released by Henson and HIT earlier this month. More information on the show and its release should be avalible early next year - I'll keep you posted.


mtoscos said...

We absolutly love Frances and her little sister Gloria. We wish we could find a DVD of the Frances shows. My daughter has never been so entertained. She has learned more from Frances than any other cartoon or child's show that is aired on cable or regular television. We hope the series continues, and we will keep looking for DVD's to purchase. Sincerely, Michelle Toscos Port Richey, Florida.

Anonymous said...

We loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
My daughter already memorized the song, she loves Frances, and her little sister Gloria.
Please put them on regular schedule.