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August 20, 2007

Tales from the Bayou

Posted in: General Puppetry

OK, so I mentioned that I’ve been working on some video projects. Most of my summer video production has been for personal projects, but last week I got to go play in Huntsville, Alabama and work on a new Christian kids’ series called Believer’s Bayou. Hoo-doggie, it was a lot of work, but tons of fun!

believer's bayou

Ryan Spittler (ol’ Cover Boy himself) and I were brought in to handle most of the puppet parts, but even the director, the camera guy, and various other folk were roped into helping for some shots.

Me!Ryan

This was my second experience in the bayou. The folks there are wonderful, but there’s always some interesting challenges. For one thing, the sets are not designed for video (nothing is raised), so we end up squished, contorted and even laying on top of each other just to get the shots right. But also, the live characters have to interact with puppets whose voices are prerecorded. So the audio guy (aka Mr. Incredible-with-Pro-Tools) has to sit at the computer and hit the cues at the right time while the puppeteers have to follow, listen, and make the puppets look like they are actually talking and acting. Whee, fun.

laying down on the jobthat's not a dune!

Above left was a typical scene for poor Ryan (and Norm, and Matt, and…) as the puppeteers got to lay down on the job. (Don’t it look relaxin’?) But hey, what did they have to complain about? They got the big 20″ monitor out there! Nice. Above right is another fine example of one of our more awkward shots. In the foreground is the camera’s display so you can see what the end shot looked like, but in the background you can see the fun we had getting it to work. See that sand dune with a fig leaf? That’s Ryan. Heh heh heh…

Over the course of about four days, we shot four 30-minute episodes. While we took a bunch of still pix, there are some experiences I just don’t have to share with you pictorially… like the soaked shirt I got from performing Pierre the Catfish out of a barrel with real water, or the burn Ryan got from saving a toppling stand light, or the way we had to contort to get that duck to ride the giant ugly fish, or the laps that got sat upon for the sake of a shot, or the many poses of Pappy thanks to the tech guys with too much time on their hands.

nighttime scenesame scene with puppeteers

I’ll leave you with one last scene story. This was a fun one. Just me and the guys. Here, Norm Hewitt is on the blue rabbit and frog, I’m in the bear with the live hand, Ryan is doing his cute “Mikey” character he made, and Jason was on the ugly possum (just above Mikey) but he was also doing my right hand (and a lovely job he did, too!) By the way, I don’t want to hear any puppeteers ever complain about puppetry being too hot or too hard or anything else. YOU try getting four adults in a tiny space crouched below a too-short fence while wearing a big hunk of fur on your head and arms in the humidity of Alabama!

OK. I’m done.

Well, almost. No shoot would be complete without a mascot, right? Especially a cute fluffy one who dressed for the occasion!

Ginger the Wonder-Fluff


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