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‘The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance’: The Netflix Prequel Series Is ‘Still Pure Puppetry’

The new series used updated variations on techniques Jim Henson used in his 1982 original (even bringing back master designer Brian Froud).

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“I love CGI, but we’re not using CGI on this one,” “The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance” director Louis Leterrier told the audience at New York Comic-Con on Friday night.

Preserving the old way of telling stories through puppets was a theme of the panel, one of the first times the creative team behind the new Netflix prequel series has talked publicly about the 10-episode project.

Set before the events of the 1982 Jim Henson and Frank Oz film “The Dark Crystal,” this new series follows a Gelfing society that existed before the crumbled remains of the Wall of Destiny seen in the original movie. Series creator Lisa Hanson, Jim’s daughter, explained that the desire to make the series came from that image.

“We took that as our jumping off point for the whole series, saying, ‘What was that culture? What was lost? What was that beautiful Gelfling civilization?’ And it’s very developed. We have a big canvas with many different groups of Gelflings living in all different kinds of geography,” Henson said.

One major change in the three decades since “The Dark Crystal” is the way that this new series is able to introduce some new effects into a familiar process.

“People have asked what the newest technology we’re bringing to this is, and I say, ‘Well it’s actually really old technology: green screen.’ We’re removing puppeteers where they are physically moving the puppets from the outside. But Jim didn’t have the ability to do that at the time of the movie,” Henson said. “So even though that’s a really old visual effects technique, it’s an advance on the film. We were so pleased that is still pure puppetry because if you take the puppeteers out, they’re still moved by the puppeteers.”

Letterier explained that the new series is an updated experience for a new generations of fans, but that the crew also took painstaking care in recreating the look of the original film.

“Kids these days haven’t seen puppets that look like this. It brings in everything you love about ‘Dark Crystal,'” Letterier said, adding that he got some help from some sources familiar to those who’ve memorized the credits of “The Dark Crystal.” “Brian Froud, Wendy Froud, and Toby Froud — little Toby from ‘Labyrinth’ — all worked on our show, recreating the Skeksis and creating the new characters. So the design is exactly the same. The look is exactly the same. We shot on VistaVision. You’re going to like it.”

To round out the panel, a featurette teasing that Skeksis return and the unveiling of many more Gelflings to come confirmed a 2019 release date for the series.

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