I just figured out the armatures, and made a robot guy to try them out. I was very pleased with the movement i got. very natural. I find that the animation features in blender very much resemble a complex puppet controller. parenting a path to a path for instance is very much like having a sub-controller on a controller. You see, a real marionette, or mechanical puppet control is a fairly complicated thing. I wish I could provide a couple of examples, but the problem is, people who design such things are usually very careful to keep them hidden from those who would attempt to emulate the design. Just imagine a largish lattice with an array of sliding extensions, subcontrollers hanging off it, and the odd trigger, or rotating bar. If anyone saw the John Malcovich movie, note that the controller pictured was definately NOT the controller used for the complex scenes, but a very common type of european controller. Somewhat obsolete. In fact, a very large and unique controller was fabricated, due to the directors demand that the puppet do back flips. haha. There is a lot in terms of theory, that 3D character animators could take from puppet theory. Here are a couple of pointers for starters:
In general, during graceful movements, the feet are very light on the ground. In solid movements, the feet are firmly planted.
Generally, the movement of the head precedes all other movement. example: I my 'puppet' is going to turn and walk in the other direction, it goes, first - head, second - neck, third - torso, etc. Strong movements come from the hips.
When a person/puppet walks, remember, they are falling forward and catching themselves. Not shuffling, and not stamping. Check out 'The Human Figure in Motion --- Muybridge.
When possible, keep movements paced, and simple. Too much fast or spastic movement gives the impression that the puppeteer is not in control of his puppet.
Be aware of the puppets center of mass.
Signing off for now