Over the years, there have been some truly amazing prop and set designers. And while the 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that on average, set and prop designers earned about $54,890 annually, some of the work done by these artists is priceless. This is true for Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, who are undoubtedly some of the most famous props and characters. So let’s take a deeper look into the history of these infamous puppets and how Jim Henson changed the world of film.
Henson not only created well-known and loved puppets, but he was a master of the entire filmmaking process — from puppetry and animatronics to using technology for visual arts, he did it all. Throughout his life, some of his greatest achievements included creating The Muppets, the Sesame Street characters, and working on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.
The puppets Henson created were so much more than just film props — his performance style really brought the puppets to life. In the past, the puppeteer was not well hidden, making it known that the puppets were obviously just movie props. But with Henson’s vision and directing style, scenes were filmed to hide the puppeteers, making the puppets the stars of the show. This directing style became more complex when it came to puppets like those of the Muppets because they frequently interacted with the humans on the show. Scenes had to be filmed very carefully to allow the puppets to interact with the humans without revealing the puppeteers.
The creation of Henson’s puppets was even revolutionary. His puppets were made of soft materials, like foam, fleece, and felt, to allow the puppeteer to easily maneuver the puppet — this allowed the puppets to create a wide range of expressions for their characters.
In 1979, The Muppet Movie was created and was a huge transition for Henson. While the Muppets were only featured on their television show previously, Henson took a risk and moved them to the big screen. Fortunately, the movie was a big hit and made history by showing that puppets could, in fact, carry on a movie by themselves.
All in all, Jim Henson was a talented and beloved creator in the film world. Throughout the filmmaking process, Henson took what were supposed to be just props for films and turned them into something real.