In this latest Reverse Shot Talkie, co-directors and co-conspirators Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York) and Duke Johnson tour the galleries of the Museum of the Moving Image with host Eric Hynes. Surrounded by Muybridge photography and zoetropes, they contemplate early cinematic techniques of motion capture and compare them their work on their new stop-motion animation drama Anomalisa. "We're taking things that aren't moving and reverse-engineering them so that they look like they're moving," Kaufman says. "It's a really interesting thing to look at movement. Because you have to understand it to make this illusion effective."
Despite all the effort expended to emulate human movement, they intentionally left visible seams on their puppets for emotional and philosophical effect. "They're a little off. And that feels like life," Kaufman says. "I've always gravitated towards structures that allow you or force you to step out of it, and realize you're watching something that's not real. But at the same time not lose the emotional impact of it." One thing that seems more real than you might expect it to is the film's sex scene, which Johnson attributes to the uncommon ordinariness of the puppets, making them more relatable than movie stars. There's also the matter of their being puppets who aren't acting, but instead characters given this honest purpose. "They may not be faking it, these puppets," Kaufman says, sorting through the implications on the spot. "They might be having sex."
Several sets and some of Anomalisa's puppet "stars" will be on display at Museum of the Moving Image through March 2016. Click here for more information.