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Waldo C. Graphic

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Waldo C. Graphic
Puppeteer  Steve Whitmire[1]
Body performer 
Voice  Steve Whitmire
Featured in  The Jim Henson Hour
Muppet*Vision 3D
Designer(s)  Kirk Thatcher
Gender  Male
Species 
Occupation  demographics expert
Age 
Family 

Waldo C. Graphic, "the spirit of 3D", was the first digital Muppet, featured on The Jim Henson Hour. Waldo served as the the demographics expert for MuppeTelevision. As a computer graphic, Waldo was able to morph into any shape imaginable and had the playful nature of a clown. He also figured prominently in Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D, engaging with the Muppets and audience members and attempting to get out of the film.

Despite his CG nature, Waldo was controlled in real time by a puppeteer via a mitten-like motion-capture device called a Waldo (for which he was named). Jim Henson had begun experimenting with creating digital characters in the mid-1980s and Waldo's underlying technology grew out of experiments conducted to create a computer generated version of Kermit the Frog[2].

Waldo's strength as a computer generated puppet was that he could be controlled by a single puppeteer (Steve Whitmire) in real-time in concert with conventional puppets. The computer image of Waldo was mixed with the video feed of the camera focused on physical puppets so that all of the puppeteers in a scene could perform together. Afterwards, in post production, PDI re-rendered Waldo in full resolution, adding a few dynamic elements on top of the performed motion.[3]

Waldo's design was led by Kirk Thatcher with input from a variety of other artists, including Timothy Young and animated by Pacific Data Images[1], now known as PDI/DreamWorks. Jim Henson performed Waldo in a special demonstration of how the character worked in the episode "Secrets of the Muppets."


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Feature Creature @ Archive.org
  2. Finch, Christopher. Jim Henson: The Works (New York: Random House, 1993)
  3. Walters, Graham. The story of Waldo C. Graphic. Course Notes: 3D Character Animation by Computer, ACM SIGGRAPH '89, Boston, July 1989, pp. 65-79

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