Posts Tagged ‘video’

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Kermit

This is one of my favorite Sesame Street videos. The song totally sticks in my head.

Plus, at 1.01, if you watch the lower right corner of the screen, Jim Henson’s head flashes for a moment. First time I’ve seen that.

Cookie Monster on NPR

PuppetVision Blog pointed out that Cookie Monster was on NPR yesterday. There’s a long tradition of puppet characters appearing on radio, but we are lucky that the wise folk at NPR also made a short video of Cookie answering the famous Proust Questionnaire.

You can listen to the whole interview at the same link. “C” is for cookie. That’s good enough for me.

Vikings raid bookstore

I gave my nephew the first book in the Strongbow Saga and the moment he finished it, he made his dad go to the bookstore to get book two. He’s been whining, wondering when book three would come out.

Here’s the answer.

Repetative Dialogue

((Spotted at Genevieve Valentine’s))

You know you’ve read scenes exactly like this which were written in earnest. Cut the repetition and don’t say the obvious.

Unless you are Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry, in which case you are fintastically fintastic.

The Sinking of the Lusitania

When I was in college, we were shown this very early example of animation. Made in 1918, Winsor McCay wanted to show the horror of Lusitania’s sinking. I was talking with a friend about it and she’d never seen it so I hit the wonders of YouTube. Behold! I hadn’t seen this newsreel with making-of footage that goes with it.

Classic Christmas Puppetry From Richard Teschner

PuppetVision Blog pointed out this stunning video by Richard Teschner. There are a couple of things you need to understand before watching this short film. It was filmed in 1916, so it is very early cinema. It is also not stop-motion. Both of those things are cool. What is significant though is that Richard Teschner is credited with adapting Javanese rod puppetry for the western world. Before him, you saw marionettes and hand puppets but nothing else. His work was quite revolutionary. I’ve seen photos of his puppets for ages and have been captivated by the sheer artistry of them. This film is the first time I have ever seen them in motion. I would love to see a better print, because even in this the delicacy of movement is beautiful. Despite the lack of dialog, you can feel Joseph’s tenderness to Mary as fully as if he were delivering monologues. It is easy, oh so easy, to see why Teschner’s work changed everything for western puppetry.

Tempest build, Day Two

Hello, learning curve, my old friend.

El wire installedWe focused on the intestines today. Starting by inserting the El wire into our latest concoction and looking to see if we liked the way it glowed. Behold! Something that looks good with the lights off and on.

With El wire, unlitIn this shot, the El wire is lit, but we are under normal room lighting. The red comes from Festive Red Holiday Saran Wrap, which is a bad idea for food products, but makes great intestines.

Sausages?Jane gets all the credit for this idea. In addition to looking just disgusting, the saran wrap nicely holds the cotton batting in place, and gives the bubble wrap some traction.
Adding the bubblewrap
Jane cut the bubble wrap into strips and coiled them, making it easy to just wrap them at a diagonal around the giant coil. This part went pretty fast. The batting and saranwrap was slow.

UncoiledWe put the bubbles on the outside, which really catches the light well and looks all suction cuppy. Gross, huh?

The coil on the floor.  Big.The problem is that it’s huge. Ginormous. I don’t see how we are going to fit one of these under a skirt, much less six of them.

So far my only brainstorms of how to deal with this are not so hot, but maybe they’ll give you an idea.

1) We could have the coils preset under the stage floor and have them rituallistically attached to Ariel in a very sick and dramatic fashion — which totally breaks the idea that she has torn herself apart to become the harpy.

2) I just saw a giant inflatable puppet that Jane Catherine Shaw made. Huge. Twenty feet tall and entirely made of translucent plastic tarp. She had a hose running offstage to a fan, which was pretty quiet. The puppet really got whipped about and appeared to be durable. We could try inflatable tentacles.

Otherwise, I’m at a loss. These things are the size of a human torso.

Erica and I will keep building them tomorrow, just so they have something to rehearse with. I’ll also experiment with the inflatable option, just so you’ve got a choice.

With the Contra Here’s one with the contra, just so you can see it.
Tangle of wire
Look! Spring steel in a tangle.

I have some video of the boat, but am a wee bit tired so I’m heading to bed since I don’t have any direct questions about it. I really do need guidance on the tentacles though.

Talk to you soon!

Twelve Days of Christmas

I sometimes tell people that I had a Norman Rockwell upbringing. Our Christmas tradition explains it. For over fifty years, my extended family gathers at Woodthrush Woods, the house that my dad’s parents built, for Christmas dinner. The number of guests ranges from 20-35 people, and we hoot and carry on. First Robby (my namesake for Robinette), and now my mother cook a enormous meal and trot out the good china and set a fine table. Multiple tables, actually, at this point.

After dinner, we all pull our chairs into the living room, and sit in a big circle. One of the cousins goes to the piano, while we pass out songbooks. Then we sing. We sing Christmas carols and call out the page number of the ones we most want to hear. I tend to ask for The Holly and the Ivy, because it was Robby’s favorite, and I miss her. At the end of the night, the last thing we do is sing the Twelve Days of Christmas. Dad divvies up the parts, so each day is taken by a different group. We get sillier and sillier as the song goes on, trying to act out different parts of the song. The maids a-milking can get pretty funny, I’ll tell you.

Eric James Stone just pointed out this version of the Twelve Days. What do you think, Mom and Dad? Care to try this Christmas Eve?

Chattanooga Spaceship

In Chattanooga, when we go to visit my cousins on Signal Mountain, we always pass this spaceship. Seriously. Well, okay, it’s a house shaped like a space ship, but still.

There’s an article online about it, which includes this handy video showing the inside of the Spaceship House. I’d always wondered about it.

Clearly, I’m going to have to rewrite all my spaceship sf to include shag carpeting.

e-baby and the uncanny valley

This is beautifully animated, but there’s one detail which makes me go a little buggy. Watch the baby’s eyes. They are so real, compared to the rest of the figure, that it edges into the uncanny valley.

This is a problem that crops up in a lot of different forms of world creation, from set design, to animation to straight puppetry. If you have one element that seems totally real, it makes everything else seem strange. But if everything is stylized in the same manner, then you accept that visual vocabulary. For instance, no one complains that they can’t see all the fur on the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. But if a real dog wandered through the scene, the entire world would look flat and the dog would look strange. It’s uncanny.

More fishy stuff

Emily DeCola's design drawing for fish Emily DeCola has been hired to create puppets for the African Children’s Choir. She started with these design drawings and has hired me to help her build the puppets. My primary job on the fish is to take her drawings and translate them into patterns that can be quickly reproduced for the sixteen fish puppets we need to make.

Patterns for the fishThe patterning itself involves a lot of tracing and testing. Here are the patterns for the male fish in a neat pile. Even though I create these patterns through the process of piecing a fish together, I still won’t know if they actually work until I try to make a second fish.

Male fish, test This is the test fish. You’ll notice that a lot of the pieces are still represented by paper.

For a dress at this stage I would have used muslin for the pattern, but for this I need to make certain that the things I use for the “muslin” have the same properties as the final product. There isn’t a good substitute for the ethafoam (the blue stuff). But, see how the belly of the fish is black? In the finished puppet it will be brightly colored and made of a similar but different material. Since I had a substitute available, I used that because it is cheaper than what we’ll use for the final product.

Male fish, test 2 We had four people in the shop today and working together this is as far as we got. We had one male fish pinned together and…

Female fish, test
…one female fish pinned together. A lot of this time was spent figuring out patterns or cutting things out. These are fairly simple puppets but there are sixteen of them and that just takes a while, even if you think things are going quickly.

I’ve got some video for you to show how quickly things can go.