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December 2015

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Page 19 of 51 18 POST DECEMBER 2015 t's a unique world — one where a frog sings, a bear does standup comedy and a pig hosts her own TV talk show. In the fall of 2015, ABC officially reintroduced TV's beloved Muppet char- acters to millions of viewers with a fresh spin on the 1970's to early 1980's classic comedy hit, The Muppet Show, when it began airing The Muppets as the lead-in series to its new Tuesday night lineup. The show features Kermit the Frog and his gang of Muppets as they pro- duce the late-night talk show, "Up Late With Miss Piggy," that stars, well, Miss Piggy. Other featured Muppets on ABC's new series include Fozzie Bear, Scooter, Rowlf, Gonzo, the Electric Mayhem jazz/ rock band, and a newer emphasis on Pepé the King Prawn, Rizzo the Rat and a host of other characters — both old favorites and new. Anyone watching the show, howev- er, can see that these aren't exactly the same Muppets they watched when they were kids and, geared a bit towards a more mature viewer, they certainly aren't their parents' Muppets that Jim Henson created and appeared on the children's show, Sesame Street, back in 1969. This slightly edgier iteration, which is one- part documentary and one-part talk show, is a big production on Burbank's ABC/Disney stages, involving multi-cam- era shoots, two full-time editors, a visual effects team and several performers/ puppeteers per Muppet, who control the actions of the show's star characters. In all, it's a true collaboration of production and post to bring the fictitious behind- the-scenes antics and on-stage Miss Piggy show to life, and keep the magic real for viewers at home. SHOOT "This has to be the most unique produc- tion on television," says the show's DP Craig Kief (The Sixties TV mini-series documentary, Hot in Cleveland, The Muppets TV shorts), who shoots the documentary portions on Arri Amira cameras and the "Up Late With Miss Piggy" segments on Sony FS7s. "All of our sets are raised 40 inches off the floor, there are musical numbers, guest stars, specially-designed equipment, six cameras, multiple looks, a lot more crew than most shows, twice the amount of lighting, and every shot is both a special and visual effect." From the production side, Kief con- tinues that, "Shooting The Muppets is a unique challenge on every level. There's simply nothing else like it. We have a wide array of techniques and special tools to enable the puppeteering. Some scenes get quite complex as we work in three different spaces of movement for the performers, cameras and the humans appearing on-camera. "While we try very hard to achieve ABC'S THE MUPPETS BY LINDA ROMANELLO PRODUCTION & POST COME TOGETHER TO CREATE TV MAGIC I DP Craig Kief Burbank's SoapBox Films removes puppeteers and rods from sequences, helping to create the illusion of reality of an actual Muppet world.

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