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View Full Version : How do muppets ride bicycles?


psychonaut
10-25-2006, 07:32 PM
I've just been watching the first three Muppet movies and was impressed to see Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang riding bicycles. Some of the time this is shown in a long overhead crane shot with no visible wires above or beside the bicycles. I'm also pretty sure it wasn't done with bluescreening, since it's usually easy to tell when that technique is used. So how did Henson & Co. manage to pull this off?

pbbth
10-25-2006, 07:43 PM
Easy, they just taught the gang how to ride bikes before they shot the scene. :)My personal theory is that the bikes are on some kind of track that you can't see in the shot.

anyrose
10-25-2006, 07:44 PM
Easy, they just taught the gang how to ride bikes before they shot the scene. :)My personal theory is that the bikes are on some kind of track that you can't see in the shot.
that's fairly accurate - with the exception, possibly, of Scooter and Piggy, who are both built so that scaled up, a person could fit inside.

ZipperJJ
10-25-2006, 07:51 PM
I've just been watching the first three Muppet movies and was impressed to see Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang riding bicycles. Some of the time this is shown in a long overhead crane shot with no visible wires above or beside the bicycles. I'm also pretty sure it wasn't done with bluescreening, since it's usually easy to tell when that technique is used. So how did Henson & Co. manage to pull this off?

There's an explanation of this on one of the Muppet movie DVDs....I wish I could tell you which so you could see!

But yeah...it's a ton of different shots from different angles with tracks and pulleys and some strings you really can't see.

Seing how Henson pulls it off, and how the original Star Wars movies were made leaves me with a big distaste for moden movie "magic."

(heh...I say modern as if these films were 50 years old! ;) )

dangermom
10-25-2006, 07:56 PM
I have seen a video explaining how they did it. It's amazing stuff, and essentially involved very complicated boom structures sometimes, and other very complicated contraptions other times--no tracks. You might find it on a DVD of The great Muppet caper, I think--I know I've never seen The Muppets take Manhattan on DVD, so it's probably that.

MacTech
10-25-2006, 08:03 PM
As far as the pedaling goes, that's easy, the bikes they were riding were probably fixed-gear bikes (Fixies)

on a fixie, as long as the rear wheel turns, the pedals turn, there's no freewheel, the rear cog is fixed, a.k.a. permanently mounted, on the rear hub

with the bikes being pulled by wires (possibly rotoscoped out), the rear wheel would turn the chain, that would turn the pedals that the puppet feet were attached to, making it *look* like Kermit and crew were actually pedaling the bikes

psychonaut
10-25-2006, 08:03 PM
I have seen a video explaining how they did it. It's amazing stuff, and essentially involved very complicated boom structures sometimes, and other very complicated contraptions other times--no tracks. You might find it on a DVD of The great Muppet caper, I think--I know I've never seen The Muppets take Manhattan on DVD, so it's probably that.
Nope... I've got the first three DVDs, and none of them have any making-of documentaries on them. Maybe they weren't included on the Region 2 releases.

RealityChuck
10-25-2006, 08:11 PM
I've seen how they shot Kermit riding the bike (http://toughpigs.com/images/anth02augbike.jpg) in the first Muppet movie. Basically, he's being used as a marionette -- overhead there was a controller on an overhead track. Wires moved him. They were attached to his feet and head, and the bike was the fixie that Mactech mentioned.

psychonaut
10-25-2006, 08:14 PM
that's fairly accurate - with the exception, possibly, of Scooter and Piggy, who are both built so that scaled up, a person could fit inside.This would be plausible if the puppets were indeed scaled up, but they're not. They're shown in many shots riding next to real-world objects like cars and trees which would be difficult to scale. They're also shown riding next to other muppets, like Kermit, whose proportions couldn't possibly match a human actor.

As an aside, though, Miss Piggy does have an obvious human stunt double in the Great Muppet Caper and the Muppets Take Manhattan. However, she isn't riding a bike in those scenes.

psychonaut
10-25-2006, 08:19 PM
I've seen how they shot Kermit riding the bike (http://toughpigs.com/images/anth02augbike.jpg) in the first Muppet movie. Basically, he's being used as a marionette -- overhead there was a controller on an overhead track. Wires moved him. They were attached to his feet and head, and the bike was the fixie that Mactech mentioned.My best guess was also overhead wires, but I began to doubt that hypothesis when I saw the wide crane shots -- I believe it's at the end of the first movie when we see about a dozen muppets bicycling down a country road lined with trees. The shot starts near the ground and then rises until we're looking down from the treetops. If they used marionettes in that shot, then the wires must have been very long indeed, and expertly positioned to avoid hitting the trees. They also would have had to film at a time when the sun wasn't casting shadows of the rigging into the shot.

Telemark
10-25-2006, 10:42 PM
There are human bikers in front and behind that are pulling/pushing wires. I remember seeing a special on TV at some point. I don't know if all the shots were done that way, but the wide shots were done that way.

Marlitharn
10-26-2006, 02:44 AM
I remember seeing Brian Henson talking about the group bicycling shot in Caper. He said that the bikes were attached to each other by rods, running from axle to axle, so they could all stand up on their own, and then extras pulled them along with wires. Apparently, he's visible in a long shot, riding a tricycle of his own some distance ahead of the Muppets.

rowrrbazzle
10-27-2006, 03:15 PM
My best guess was also overhead wires, but I began to doubt that hypothesis when I saw the wide crane shotsI don't know how that was shot, but the two scenes didn't necessarily use the same tricks.

ouryL
10-27-2006, 04:00 PM
I've just been watching the first three Muppet movies and was impressed to see Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang riding bicycles. Some of the time this is shown in a long overhead crane shot with no visible wires above or beside the bicycles. I'm also pretty sure it wasn't done with bluescreening, since it's usually easy to tell when that technique is used. So how did Henson & Co. manage to pull this off?

In the first Muppet movie, seeing Kermit on a bike was a Muppet first, I believe.

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