I want to share this video because it’s really really really well-done. This was a puppet video released around two years ago inspired by the 2006 film Huo Yuan Jia (霍元甲) starring Jet Li. It was also released in North America under the title Jet Li’s Fearless in the UK and US. It was about Huo Yuan-Jia, a martial art master from the Ching Dynasty. (By the way, Chin Dynasty is a dynasty that really amuses me. Maybe we’ll talk about that later.) The background music is the theme music to the movie, written and sung by Jay Chou, one of the most well-known singer/song-writer in the world of asian pop music.
(If you can’t see the embedded video, watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEWsYUbrZfk)
The video is simply amazing in terms of puppeteering and editing. All the shots are meticulously planned out and the attention to details is superb. They must’ve spent a lot of time on this. The way the characters handled the instruments and weapons are very human-like, and it’s just one of those videos that I’d watch again and again to soak in all the details.
That said, although the puppeteering is very good, it cannot look that good without really heavy editing. I watch this kind of puppets growing up, and I know the mechanisms of these puppets. So, I know that they did really heavy editing with the left arm. Normally, the puppet’s left arm is controlled by a rod from below. The left arm rod is usually hidden from the audience by the character’s really wide sleeves, but it is not possible to hide the rod when the sleeves are so narrow like the main character’s. They are so careful with this stuff that this is the only frame in the whole video where I can show you the rod. This is from around time code 1:46.
You can only see a really short section of the rod, and it just goes to show you what I said about the rod being normally covered by the sleeves. For the main character, since there’s not enough sleeve to cover up the rod, they must’ve really carefully edited it out. And since the character is constantly moving, it must have been a lot of work to edit out. Again, what they’ve done amazed me.
Who made such a video? People had different guesses and the group of people that made it used a pseudo-name and didn’t released much official information about it. When it first became viral on the internet, there were a lot of discussions about who made this video. Some said it was made by Chinese people, and some said it was made by Taiwanese people. Some said it was made by professionals that work in the industry, and some said these were made by people that were just passionate about the art. But I think, you can buy puppets, but you are not likely to have access to a studio with set pieces that are to the scale of the puppets if you are not in the industry. And these people obviously have really good skills, and most likely a lot of experiences as well. I believe it’s done by professionals as a side project.
Anyway, this really shows that with a vision, good skills, and a lot of time, you can make all kinds of crazy and amazing videos come true.