Thursday, June 12, 2008

Turtle, baby

This is one of my all-time favorite photos. It was taken on the set of the first TMNT movie, down in North Carolina. My wife and I had brought our baby daughter with us on a visit to the set, and Kevin was there as well, along with a bunch of the Mirage dudes. The studio wanted to do some promotional photos of me and Kevin, and arranged to do it on what I think was a piece of the NYC rooftop set. After that photo shoot was done, we prevailed upon the photographer and the man in the Turtle suit (a very patient guy whose first name, I think, was Dave -- I'm pretty sure he was the primary Leonardo performer in the movie) to pose for a couple of shots with us and baby Em. I love the look Em is giving the Turtle! -- PL

38 comments:

  1. Awwww, now that is just fantastic.

    I know there was an actual press photo of Leonardo holding a baby (here); is that your daughter, or a different baby?

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  2. awwww that's so cute!
    Man I sure hope some day we can have another live action tmnt movie.

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  3. Awww haha...That look is priceless.

    "Please dont eat me!"

    -r

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  4. That's adorable. I really hope someday we can get a decent DVD or Blueray release of the first movie with the deleted scenes and other special features. Those costumes were amazing, might be nice to get some of the people who made them and the people who wore them to come back and talk about the process behind making the movie.

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  5. -->> ..savin' that photo..

    i hope that one's framed and hangin' someplace special.

    >v<

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  6. Even now, those original Henson designed turtle costumes stand up as some of the greatest prosthetic/puppetry/practical effect/animatronic based costumes ever made.

    It's a real shame that so many movie studios choose CGI nowadays, which although not always cheaper, is considered the "easier option".

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  7. What a great photo! I think that's the kind of picture you have to hold on to forever. Heh, I wish I had been held by a giant, mutant turtle when I was a baby :)

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  8. What a great family photo!

    Also, I meant to ask this in the Ask Peter thread but it totally slipped my mind at the time. I know back in 1994 Mirage shopped around the idea of publishing a collected book for the comic strip that primarly Dan but also a few others prior worked on. Has there been any thought or effort to get such a book published again? I've always wanted one. Thanks!

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  9. I'm lust laughing at the expression on the baby's face, it's priceless.

    Actually forgot to ask this in another thread, but could you ever be persuaded to work with Palladium again on an updated version of the TMNT roleplaying game? I had some great times playing it back in the day.

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  10. btw the dude who was in the Leo suit was Dave Forman. He's probably most well known in recent years for being the fight arranger for Batman Begins and being one of the bigger spearheads of the Keysi fighting style.

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  11. Oh, that is too adorable. I'm stealing it, too. ;o)
    Baby Em's expression is priceless but my gosh, look at the expression they (the animatronics puppeteer I would guess?) managed to get on Leo's face!
    So sweet.....

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  12. Adorable! That is sooooo cool.

    Proves the turtles love babies, cos babies r cuuuute! :P

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  13. "roseangelo said...
    Awwww, now that is just fantastic.

    I know there was an actual press photo of Leonardo holding a baby (here); is that your daughter, or a different baby?"

    No, that's another baby -- I don't know who it is. -- PL

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  14. "Duke said...
    What a great family photo!

    Also, I meant to ask this in the Ask Peter thread but it totally slipped my mind at the time. I know back in 1994 Mirage shopped around the idea of publishing a collected book for the comic strip that primarly Dan but also a few others prior worked on. Has there been any thought or effort to get such a book published again? I've always wanted one. Thanks!"

    Good question -- unfortunately, I don't know the answer. I know a lot of those strips have been scanned here at Mirage, but that may be for use in some form other than print. Perhaps Dan Berger will read this post and comment. -- PL

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  15. "Malpractice said...
    btw the dude who was in the Leo suit was Dave Forman. He's probably most well known in recent years for being the fight arranger for Batman Begins and being one of the bigger spearheads of the Keysi fighting style."

    Thanks for the clarification and update! I have to reiterate that he was amazingly patient, given that he had spent most of the day in that suit, and I was giving him instructions (as a nervous new dad would) on how to hold a baby. He was very cool about it. -- PL

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  16. "Mentski said...
    Even now, those original Henson designed turtle costumes stand up as some of the greatest prosthetic/puppetry/practical effect/animatronic based costumes ever made.

    It's a real shame that so many movie studios choose CGI nowadays, which although not always cheaper, is considered the "easier option"."

    Let me say up front that I am a HUGE fan of what the Henson Studio folks have done over the years with their puppets and animatronics, and I was utterly THRILLED when I found out that they were going to be doing the Turtle suits (and Splinter, too, of course) for the first live-action movie. And I think what they accomplished, in concert with Steve Barron as director, in that first movie was wonderful.

    But... I have to reluctantly admit that as cool as that all was, I look at the Turtles in the first movie and compare them to the CGI Turtles in "TMNT", and I find myself wishing that there was some way to take some of those awkward "rubber" moments out of the first movie. As incredible as the puppeteering and servo-powered facial expressions were for their time, they just don't have the fluidity and range of motion that the CGI Turtles have. One moment in particular, I think, shows the limitations of the animatronic suits -- it's when the Turtles come back to the lair to find the door smashed in and Splinter gone. The puppeteers tried their very best to get anguished expressions on the Turtles' faces, but it still lacked something. -- PL

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  17. I know just the scene you're talking about, Peter. I remember it being a slightly confusing scene as a kid, because like you said, they just couldn't quite pull of the emotional responses they wanted.

    Re-watching the original movie, it's still really, really good, but it's hard to compare with the new CG movie, where they breathed and moved so naturally. The new movie could've had another 20 minutes of the turtles freerunning across rooftops for me!

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  18. I am just going to join in in saying awwwwwwwww!
    Seriously what an awesome family photo to have

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  19. Mentski,

    CGI is by no means the 'easier' option. After dabbling in it since 1998, the programs have improved drastically since then, but you've still got to move point by point in order to create things and give them that movie quality look.

    Case in point, the final model I'm improving for my TMNT CGI short is the Technodrome. It's got about 150 panels of armor, about 6 wheel/drills....and tons of other detail. I just checked the date on my first backup file and for one person of on and off work, it's taken me from 5-13-08 to get 85% completed.

    I know you are not saying that the CGI art is easy, but movie studio execs are. Just wanted to give folks a little peak on what it takes to make even one vehicle or character animation ready in CGI ;). Once this is done, I'm going to be finally ready for animation, and that's not including backgrounds..

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  20. BTW, I love that picture. She's almost giving Leo a 'Keep that finger away from me, mutant boy..' look :).

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  21. "PL Said.. I have to reluctantly admit that as cool as that all was, I look at the Turtles in the first movie and compare them to the CGI Turtles in "TMNT", and I find myself wishing that there was some way to take some of those awkward "rubber" moments out of the first movie. As incredible as the puppeteering and servo-powered facial expressions were for their time, they just don't have the fluidity and range of motion that the CGI Turtles have."

    Please, don't think I was knocking the CGI film out of belief that it should have been live action... It was great piece of work, and the Raph and Leo fighting in the rain scene holds up as one of the moments I've ever seen in a CGI movie... And, of course, there are some things that you can do in CGI that you just can't do in live action. I understand that.

    I just find it sad that somewhere over the last 20 years CGI became used more and more over practical effects in live action movies, to the extent many studios wont bother to try and make a practical suit at all.

    I blame George Lucas :)

    Yes, there were a few rubber moments with the original movie, but that doesn't stop them from being a wonderful piece of puppetry history, and a turning point, in many ways, as to what *was* possible on set (It was also sad to see them change so radically in the 3rd movie, to something that looked far less realistic in many ways, but I digress).

    The only director I can think of that still tries to keep the action mostly in the physical plane is Guillermo Del Toro, who continues to use animatronics in a scene until what is needed isn't remotely possible.

    It's interesting to imagine how a Turtle suit would work now using the type of animatronic technologies Del Toro is using in his movies.

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  22. "the Raph and Leo fighting in the rain scene holds up as one of the BEST moments I've ever seen in a CGI movie..."

    doh :)

    PS: Neil, trust me, I know how hard CGI is, I had to learn 3DSmax when I was doing my degree. Hated every minute of it :)

    I'm guessing the "ease" people claim is once the model is made, every take and scene can be animated and created virtually before its ever printed, unlike a practical effect where you'd have to retake the whole scene.

    It boils down to the old adage "film equals money", although now in the days of digital filming, you are not wasting tons of precious celluloid... While its rolling, everyone there on the clock has to be paid.

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  23. Mentski,

    I think we are all forgetting the alien bad guy on that Tim Allen movie, Galaxy Quest. That looked SUPER cool and was all done using costumes. I can imagine a Turtle costume now having no flaws at all...

    The toughest part of animation is actually creating the model, second is setting up characters for animation. After that, I'm guessing everything is rather easy, as I have not really delved into animation much using SoftIamge. I've mostly been trying to improve my modeling skills..

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  24. This photo sparked an interesting personal question I think you'd have a fun answer for...

    What does your family think of your chosen profession? And about the Turtles?

    I ask cause, being in the video game industry, different members of my family have very different opinions about what I do (usually depending on the generation gap between me and them). My dad for instance, who is 80 years old, is still convinced that video games are a fad and that I shouldn't be in such an unstable profession...lol!

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  25. I'm so glad you've decided to share photos and artwork with us; for me, it makes me feel a little closer to you and that's important for me as a fan.

    Happy bloggin'!

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  26. "Stephan @ The Turtle Van said...
    This photo sparked an interesting personal question I think you'd have a fun answer for...

    What does your family think of your chosen profession? And about the Turtles?

    I ask cause, being in the video game industry, different members of my family have very different opinions about what I do (usually depending on the generation gap between me and them). My dad for instance, who is 80 years old, is still convinced that video games are a fad and that I shouldn't be in such an unstable profession...lol!"

    I think the other members of my family are happy that the Turtles became so popular, but they were all very supportive of the property from the very first days of the first comic. My brother Bruce has been especially supportive and encouraging over the years.

    My parents have always been supportive of my drawing, from the time I was a little kid. I think the only time they wavered a bit was when I told them I had switched majors in my first year of college, from education to art... but they got past that quickly. (They were just concerned that I was choosing a path on which it was probably going to be more difficult to make a good living than as a teacher.) -- PL

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  27. Awww, that is incredibly adorable, Peter! I always enjoyed the Turtles interacting with kids or babies. Gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside! I wanna snatch this for my collection! :D

    And a bit of trivia here: David Forman suited up as Leonardo once more in a brief scene in a British film called "Bernard and the Genie." The genie grants all these wishes for kids and one boy wishes for his toy Leonardo to become real. The toy looked like those Giant-sized figures from Playmates. In the next shot, out walks Leo holding the boy! The film came out in 1992 and the turtle suit looked more from the sequel. I'm sure it was easy for the crew to borrow a suit since this was filmed in London and the costumes were still at Jim Henson's Creature Shop. To think I toured London in '92 and never knew the Creature Shop was there! I would have loved to have seen it if I had the opportunity. And now it's gone. :(

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this photo. So sweet!

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  28. AWWWW! That is the sweetest picture ever, I am definately saving this one!

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  29. Peter, thanks for answering my question. I'll shoot Dan an email about it.

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  30. Where are the costumes now?

    they were awesome.

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  31. "grifter said...
    Where are the costumes now?

    they were awesome."

    I agree, they definitely were awesome. As for where they are now... I suspect that at least some of them remain in the possession of the Henson Studio, though they may have parceled some out to various parties over the years.

    There is ONE of them whose location I am sure of -- it's in my studio. I have one of the stunt Donatello costumes (worn in the film by Ernie Reyes Jr., if I'm not mistaken). Kevin has (or had, I'm not sure) another of the stunt suits, and I think it was Raphael. Actually, now that I think of it, my next post will be about this very suit... and a couple of visitors to my studio a couple of years ago. -- PL

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  32. thanks for the reply,

    very cool thinking 'you' answered my question!

    Really like the new post of the costume in your studio - sure beats a vase

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  33. Fantastic. I have a 7 month old daughter and she already loves the TMNT on TV (granted, not quite as much as Elmo).

    - Andrew Modeen

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  34. Check out what the Henson studio is doing with a program called Sid the Science Kid. Incredible motion capture CG.

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