Ostrich puppet head

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An original prop used in the production of Willow, the 1988 fantasy picture starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer under the direction of Ron Howard.

This puppet head was created at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) during the production of the visual effects work for the pioneering morphing sequence which sees Willow (Warwick Davis) restore Fin Raziel (Patricia Hayes) from a goat to her human form. The sequence proved extremely difficult to achieve as various seamless transformations were required between the creatures which included a goat, ostrich, turtle and tiger. Several traditional methods were considered for the sequence including stop motion animation and optical tricks but with visual effects supervisors Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett and Michael McAlister keen to produce a truly revolutionary effect a new and groundbreaking approach was adopted. Ultimately puppets were created which could be operated and photographed against bluescreen with the background being digitally extracted and inputted to a software program developed by Doug Smythe which was able to process the images and morph them seamlessly in to continuous footage. This breakthrough in computer generated imagery would prove to be instrumental in the widespread use of CGI for special effects and saw Dennis Muren, Michael McAlister and Phil Tippett nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

This puppet head was created during the production for use in the morphing sequence intended to serve as the under skull for the ostrich puppet. The head is constructed from fibreglass and features a separate functional jaw with a hand built interior mechanism of brass secured with filler, this operated by a cable which runs down the neck which is a fully poseable armature hand built from plastic around a brass rod with numerous cables which could be used to puppeteer the movement of the head and neck. Also included with are a collection of four vintage 5" x 3.5" stills taken at Industrial Light & Magic in January and February 1988, the first of which shows this very puppet head at ILM during the production, these are believed to be unpublished.

The puppet measures approximately 18" in length and remains in excellent production used condition, very fine.

A highly displayable special effects artefact from the groundbreaking morphing sequence of this cult fantasy classic.

Movie / TV Show Willow