For being no more than a puppet and a voice, Yoda became one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe. However, that puppet was so beloved that when Yoda was transformed into a CGI character is the prequels, many fans cried foul. However, one person that apparently wasn't too upset was actually the guy who controlled the puppet. Frank Oz said that Yoda needed to serve the story, and the things that George Lucas wanted Yoda to do in this particular story simply couldn't have been done with a puppet.
As a filmmaker, George needed to tell a particular story. And this story that he needed to tell was a big fight with Yoda. And he could not do that with a puppet. It was impossible. To he had the choice to either dump the story or stay with the story--which he felt strongly about--or change Yoda. So he did what any storyteller would do.
While Frank Oz is probably best known for his work with the Muppets, he himself is a filmmaker in his own right. He's directed numerous films including What About Bob?, The Dark Crystal, and Death at a Funeral. As a filmmaker, Oz clearly knows something about what he's talking about. He's probably had those situations where he was forced to choose between making a change to the story, or the way he told the story. His comments to Screen Rant make perfect sense. He's also not wrong. A massive fight scene with a puppet Yoda would have been something very different at the very least. Oz says it wouldn't even have been possible.
While the decision to change Yoda from a puppet to a CGI character in between the first two prequels was a controversial decision, seeing the Jedi Master in an actual lightsaber battle was a highlight of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones for many people. It certainly required a different approach to making it possible.
Of course, one could argue that Yoda could have remained a puppet for the majority of his scenes in Episode II and they still could have used CGI to animate the fight scene. You rarely get a good look at Yoda during the battle, so the fact that the character shifted between puppet and CGI wouldn't necessarily have been that noticeable. Though, in the early 2000's CGI technology was such that maybe that wouldn't really have worked.
What do you think of the decision to turn Yoda into a CGI character in the prequels? Was it the right call under the circumstances? Let us know in the comments.