Jim Henson's Creature Shop producing 'Sid'

Series debuts Monday on PBS

Jim Henson's Creature Shop has produced 40 half-hour episodes of "Sid the Science Kid," all created using the company's new Digital Puppetry Studio.

The mostly CG series debuts Monday on PBS. The system provides immediate real-time performance of CG characters.

The heart of the process is Henson's Puppeteering Control System, a sort of puppet motion-capture system. The performances are captured on stage and applied to previously designed CG characters and environments in real time. Therefore, as if a live-action shoot, the CG shots come together in real time. The only post is some finessing, such as adding shadows.

"For 'Sid,' we had five characters at the same time and four virtual cameras capturing the images, all in real time," said Kerry Shea, head of digital production. "It's the speed and efficiency that makes it unique. Directing occurs as if it were a live-action sitcom."

Added digital effects supervisor Steffen Wild, "The spontaneity from a live actor on set can be achieved with the system."

Shea reported that Henson is developing another TV series, "Skrumps," that will use the production system. Discussions are under way for the technology's use in undisclosed feature and game projects.