Production studio releases behind scenes video for Taiwan puppet movie

01/12/2022 05:52 PM
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Cosplayers dressed as iconic glove puppet character Su Huan-jen in Taipei
Cosplayers dressed as iconic glove puppet character Su Huan-jen in Taipei's Ximending shopping district on Jan. 9 to promote the upcoming movie. CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) Local production studio Pili (霹靂) International Multimedia on Tuesday released a video revealing behind the scenes footage for its upcoming fantasy film, "DEMIGOD: The Legend Begins," which has a cast of Taiwanese glove puppets.

The company is known for exclusively producing television program and films using traditional Taiwanese glove puppets. It started releasing behind the scenes featurettes to promote the movie on YouTube in October last year.

The latest video showcases the studio's attention to detail in building film sets and choosing to adopt practical effects rather than computer-generated imagery (CGI).

According to the studio, it decided to create new and realistic sets to better match the size of the glove puppets, which are 80cm-90cm in height, a departure from the standard approach when making the weekly TV series.

Studio general manager Huang Liang-hsun (黃亮勛) said the standard sets generally emulate a puppet stage which limits the camera angles that can be used, whereas the new sets allow greater flexibility when filming.

From Pili's YouTube channel

The studio also revealed that its art department made detailed and weathered sets that look more realistic when paired with filmmaking-level lighting.

One of the sets, costing about NT$1 million (US$36,130), was set on fire to achieve the realism needed for a scene.

"We made sure all the scenes for that set were completed and no reshoots needed before we lit it on fire," director Cheng Pao-Pin (鄭保品) said. "We were very nervous, considering that we only had one shot, and had to ensure the image looked great and our puppeteers were safe."

"The realistic movements of fire captured through high resolution cameras was something special effects could not replicate, and we were very satisfied with the results," Huang said.

In addition to hiring Japanese "Tokusatsu" expert Kakusei Fujiwara to help make the suits worn by real actors and create the illusion of gigantic mythical beasts, the studio also spent around three months completing one 48-second scene.

The scene features one of the beasts, the Swordtail Qilin with saliva oozing from its mouth. The need for meticulous computer calculations and subsequent simulations was the reason it took so long to complete, the studio said.

The film, which opens on Jan. 28, stars the studio's iconic glove puppet character Su Huan-jen (素還真), whose name is also the Chinese language title of the movie.

The studio's last two Taiwan puppet movies, released in 2000 and 2015, made NT$150 million and NT$20 million respectively at the local box office.

(By James Lo)

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