Finishing trash

This is a post that I wrote over two years ago while working on the television show in Iceland. At the time, I held it because there was no way I could talk about this stuff without giving away that we were doing a circus episode. Well, the episode has been out long enough now that I can post.

So here you go, puppetry flashback.

April 26, 2006

I did loads of stuff with one of the puppets on a highwire. We had one shot that was really fun to do because it was hard. The puppet had to hold on to one of those bars that tightrope walkers use to balance. I have no idea what they are really called, but we called it the stripey pole. So, normally, you’d tape the rod to his hands and either have someone outside the frame holding the end of it, or you’d put a rod on it. In this case, an actor needed to take it from the puppet in the shot. Which we would normally do with live hands, but the way it had to be framed, there was no way to do either of these and make it look good.

So, I put on a greenscreen top, and used the wrist-entry left arm. (Maybe I should stop and explain that with live hands I have a choice of entering the arm at the elbow or the wrist.) I pulled the green shirt sleeve over the entry sleeve and they keyed my arm out. This mean that everything in green was invisible on camera–it’s very cool. So, it just looked like the puppet was holding the stripey pole and then we could pass it to the actor.

Maybe you have to be a puppeteer to know that this was nifty.

After that, it was more stripey pole action, but I just held the end of the stripey pole out of frame.

We finished the day with a trashcan shot. I know. I thought I was finished with trash too, but no. I was the periscope which had too peek up from inside a trashcan. They painted the fiberglass trash can today and it was still degassing. Mmm…let’s sit inside the container of toxic fumes.

I don’t think so. I requested and given a respirator. Because there wasn’t room in there for me, the periscope and a monitor, I also had to use the VR goggles, all of which were oh-so-attractive. The shot itself was fairly simple. I had to make the periscope peek out of the trashcan, look around, and then an actor had to jump on me. Great fun.

And just so you can see what a trippy, trippy episode that was to work on. Here’s the music video and the closing number.

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9 Responses

  1. Mike F

    Very trippy. I think that is why my kids like the show. It’s very colorful, and very active. I can’t remember his name, the guy in the blimp, was my son’s favorite. He used to jump around after he watched it. Now he tries to pretend he’s too old, he is six, but he watches it when I put it on for my daughter.

    I always wondered how they do some of those things with the puppets, I didn’t think of green screen.

      1. Mike F

        Thanks! I couldn’t get the video to work for some reason, but based on the image I see you have to work very closely with your fellow puppeteers. I never thought of that. I see why rehearsing is very important.

        1. Mike F

          Youtube! Why didn’t I think of that?Wow, a lot went into that show. After seeing that, it seems even more difficult than I imagined. Thanks, you didn’t have to go searching for all that.