Taiwan’s biggest TV puppetry production company has just released their new series Pili Prestige: The Dragon Warrior (霹靂震寰宇之龍戰八荒). This is the new opening theme:
As usual, it’s fancy-looking and a seamless combination of animation and puppetry. Unlike the previous opening themes (see here, here and here), this one does not have as much of a story. Instead it’s a showcase of all the primary character of the series. While it looked nice overall, two things caught my attention, in particular.
First, there’s the dancing girl with long wavy sleeves, first seen at 0:48-0:54. The camera shooting from the top while the character spins is something rarely seen in these things, since these puppets are manipulated from below. The spinning motion is really fluid, natural, and human-like. They did a really good job with it. She can been seen dancing again from 2:48 to 2:58. The wrist movement is the most smooth and delicate I’ve seen for this type of puppet, so they definitely improved on the technique (and maybe mechanism) some more.
And then there’s the shot with the monk at the end (4:29-4:33) in which he turned twice in the air, and hit the ground with his weapon while landing. This was also beautifully done. Normally how they would film this was, they would first show the character spinning in the air from waist up, because it would be difficult to control the legs at the same time. Then they would cut to a shot with just the legs and feet touching the ground, and finally his weapon swinging downward. Of course, these shots would each be very short and cut together smoothly to represent the movement, but this time they did the whole thing in one straight shot. I could imagine that it took several puppeteers to get this exactly right, and with post-production crew cleaning up the images afterwards, but the end result looked really good. Beautifully done.
The rest of the video were nicely done too, using transitional effects representing brush motions in traditional calligraphy or painting. However, those two shots stood out as I went back to re-watch those portions multiple times.