Designing the creatures for Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal

Practical effects whizzes Brian and Wendy Froud discuss their work on Netflix’s new prequel series.

Little White Lies

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Netflix’s 10-part prequel to Jim Henson’s cherished 1982 fantasy, features a dazzling mix of hand-crafted and digital special effects. Central to bringing the mystical realm of Thra to life for a new generation were Brian and Wendy Froud, who worked on the original film 37 years ago as creature and costume designer and puppet builder respectively.

The Froud family are legends on the practical effects scene – not only are they responsible for designing the Gelfling, Skesis and many other characters in The Dark Crystal, but Wendy is known as the ‘mother of Yoda’ having been part of the puppeteering team on The Empire Strikes Back alongside Frank Oz. Brian and Wendy also worked together on Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, in which their son Toby (now grown up and a renowned puppet maker in his own right) played the infant who is abducted by David Bowie’s Goblin King.

To find out more about what goes into designing creatures and building puppets on the scale of a major series like Age of Resistance, we sat down with Brian and Wendy at BFI Southbank’s The Dark Crystal exhibition, which runs until 6 September. They shared concept sketches, personal anecdotes and plenty of insight into their craft, explaining how green screen technology and the traditional Japanese puppeteering technique bunraku allowed them to expand the world of The Dark Crystal.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance arrives on Netflix 30 August. Read our review of the series and our interview with director Louis Leterrier.

Published 30 Aug 2019

Tags: Frank Oz Jim Henson The Dark Crystal The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

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