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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Could also have been a creative decision. As you said, it does go with the style. I'm surprised they wouldn't have mentioned the reason in the making-of book.

Why should they have mentioned the reason? I really don't understand the obsession with wanting to be told what the motivation is for every aesthetic decision - or indeed the obsession with trying to achieve 'realism' in a medium which is by its very nature not realistic. Why obsess over the eyes not being totally realistic? Maybe we should ask why Norman's neck is so thin? Or his head so big? Why are the fat kid's legs so short, or the gap between his nose and mouth so marked? Good God, there are a thousand aspects of the aesthetic choices in the film that one could ask questions about, but why? What really is the point? It's as if we can't bear any form of mystery, no matter how trivial, and must have every conceivable bit of information about every imaginable facet of any subject quantified, dissected, packaged and served to us on a plate, when we might more profitably simply enjoy what has been made.

The size of the head means they are children, cause children have big heads, plus its a cartoon characteristic, as to make the puppets more stylized, also helps to see detail, it's easier to sculpt a big head, but in Norman's case is to reincorce the fact that he is THE CHILD, the YOUNGER, the short legs the same, its a characteristic the reflects personality, the same with the gap, the more high your mouth is the more confident and intelligent, the lower it is the more stupid you are, the exaggerated facial marks are cartoonish and reinforce certain aspects of personality ... those have meaning and reason...  besides questioning about anything is always good, and promotes knowledge... it's not like we NEED an answer... and Directors think about these aspects, much like architects and designers think details, to reinforce the story and the feeling in the sub-conscience!

well I thought they did... 

McTodd said:

Why should they have mentioned the reason? I really don't understand the obsession with wanting to be told what the motivation is for every aesthetic decision - or indeed the obsession with trying to achieve 'realism' in a medium which is by its very nature not realistic. Why obsess over the eyes not being totally realistic? Maybe we should ask why Norman's neck is so thin? Or his head so big? Why are the fat kid's legs so short, or the gap between his nose and mouth so marked? Good God, there are a thousand aspects of the aesthetic choices in the film that one could ask questions about, but why? What really is the point? It's as if we can't bear any form of mystery, no matter how trivial, and must have every conceivable bit of information about every imaginable facet of any subject quantified, dissected, packaged and served to us on a plate, when we might more profitably simply enjoy what has been made.

For my part, it's not obsession. It's passing curiosity. I can sleep at night, not knowing the answer. I've just never seen angular irises before. Eye sockets, yes.

^ Same here - I think we must have touched on one of McTodd's nerves!  

As Bernardo said, most of the stylistic decisions are standard cartoon stuff, but the octagonal irises is something I haven't seen before... or HAAAAAaaaaave I? I won't spoil anything, but it becomes obvious by movie's end that there's a very strong Anime influence - which is AWESOME and gives the movie incredible power (yes, I've seen it now, and I LOVE it! Even though I was left with a weird impression of impossibly pale white skin with neon pink blotches - that's not a deal breaker). 

For what ever it is worth, it all worked for me.  I truly enjoyed seeing all the artistry up there on that screen.

I am SO thankful that there was the vision, the will and the financial backing to pull this movie off, and only hope the trend continues.  

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