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A Personal Update

3 03 2008

Back in June I posted a few pix of puppets I had been working on for I-Fest. Well, here we are eight months later and I finally got the caricature puppet in the same room with his inspiration. Whaddaya think?

Phil Vischer and puppet

The man is Phil Vischer. He’s the puppeteer (and brains) behind the silliness on the wildly popular web series, The Jelly News; he wrote the book that I puppet-ized last summer–for which I made this particular puppet; oh yeah, and Phil created a little thing called VeggieTales.

Phil was kind enough to drop by the Chicago Puppet Festival last weekend where I was able to introduce the two Phils and snap this picture.

Thought I’d share. :)

TMBG in Puppets

12 01 2008

For the benefit of the uninformed, They Might Be Giants (TMBG) is an American alternative rock band known for odd songs and a unique sound. Their fans span the globe and have been labelled “cult-like”. Their album Flood debuted when I was in high school. I’ve been a fan ever since.

So you can guess that I was thrilled to find a recently launched TMBG video podcast for kids. But I wasn’t prepared for the cutesy, crocheted faces (strange yarn-and-felt representations of band founders John Flansburgh and John Linnell) that popped into my screen to introduce the animated segment of the podcast.

TMBG album coverTMBG John and John puppets

Ha! They’re puppets. Kewl.

The puppetry isn’t stellar, but it sure is gosh-darn funny to have John and John puppets intro their new songs for kids. Check out podcast info on their downloads site, or just go right to the details on iTunes.

So, enjoy some puppety goodness while I get back in the groove of posting puppety inspiration. Will be back soon. Really.

Making It Match: Part 1

14 11 2007

No, not “making A match” as in “matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a…“, or “striking a match” as in “only you can prevent forest fires.” Today we’re going to discuss creating an appropriate visual connection between your puppet’s (specifically mouth) movements and the sound it is supposed to be creating. Hence, Making It Match.

Aaah sheepIn a previous post, we looked at mouth movements in regards to lip syncing with prerecorded tracks. Today let’s look at the nuances of mouth movements and the incredible variations that can (and should) occur when our puppets open their mouths to speak.

AAAAAaaaaah! Read the rest of this article »

The Art of Misdirection

18 10 2007

Last week I took my kids to see The Greatest Show on Earth. Besides being overwhelmed with the sights and sounds, the talent and technology, the fun and fears… I found myself wishing that I could pack it all up, replay and freeze-frame certain elements to puppet team directors and performance planners.

Magicians practice hour upon hour to learn how to misdirect your attention so that you don’t see what they’re really doing. Similarly, this three-ring circus did some serious planning to bring the audience focus away from the darkened areas where they were setting up for the next big act. It was spectacular and masterfully done.

[the greatest magician ever]

So what’s that have to do with puppets? Read the rest of this article »

Tales from the Bayou

20 08 2007

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.


Read the rest of this article »

…it’s been a long, long time…

19 08 2007

behind-the-scenes Phil-in-a-tubeWell, my busy summer is just about over and I’m finally home with a little chance to breathe before getting back to school schedules, fall festivals and the rest of life as we remember it.

The last few months have been filled with puppet design and building, video shooting and editing, teaching and performing and, sheesh, I can’t even remember what else. It’s been fun, but boy am I glad it’s over and I can get back to really important things… like PuppetryLab!

For those of you who were wanting my lecture notes and links, sorry it took so long. Here they are (click on the nifty little icons for the PDF or del.icio.us tags): Read the rest of this article »

A Personal Note

26 06 2007

See the whole picThose of you who have been following this site over the last few months may have noticed the recent lack of posts. Well, I thought I’d show you what I have been working on…

See, I’ve got this little performance in a couple of weeks at I-Fest and–glutton for punishment that I am–I have been building all the puppets and props for it. Like this guy to the left… my first true expedition into the wonderful world of reticulated foam and Antron fleece. VeggieTales fans may recognize the caricature. He’s gonna be the narrator for my puppet interpretation of “47 Beavers and the Big Blue Sea” which will incorporate an interactive video background. (Hopefully… I’m still getting that together!) By the way, do you like the guitar? It’s modeled after a ukulele that my mom got in about 1954 when she went off to summer camp. But this one is MUCH lighter… it’s carved from insulation foam. Kewl, eh? Read the rest of this article »

Pix from Denver Fest

2 05 2007

It’s been a couple weeks since the Denver Regional Puppetry Festival, but I wanted to share some highlights of this year’s conference. I was not on the teaching staff at Denver this year, but since the festival took place just a few miles from my house, I decided to crash the party and just enjoy the weekend instead of having to work it. (Yippee!)

African masks

Friday night’s puppet song competition brought some fun ideas and interesting creations like these singing African masks. Read the rest of this article »

Day of Puppetry in Denver

28 04 2007

Puppets on Display

Today was the 8th Annual National Day of Puppetry. Fun puppet events took place all over the country, but I got to take in a few of the activities sponsored by the Mile High Puppet Guild that took place here at the Englewood Public Library in Englewood, CO. Read the rest of this article »

Funsies on the Web

28 04 2007

This morning I awoke to a feedbox full of goodies, including some nice puppetry finds. I thought I’d share since I’ve been kinda slow in the posting department this month.

  • screenshotsPuppetBuzz.com shares a rare behind-the-scenes Muppet video featuring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Michael Frith. The vid is way too short (9min), but it includes some fun Muppet Show clips and great discussion about character development, angles, focus, and more that would appeal to any puppeteer, not just a Muppet fan.
  • Michael Sporn is an animator I’ve been following lately. His blog is full of interesting art pieces, long-forgotton but amazing storyboards, how-tos, you name it. And he does such a fabulous job describing it all. Well today’s post is all about a puppet show, but not just any puppet show, Macbeth in marionettes by the Compagnia Marionettistica Carlo Colla e Figli. Talk about amazing pictures… the costumes, the sets, the puppets… holy cow. I would love to see this show! Check out Michael’s post for a little inspiration and humbling.

Then, of course, if you haven’t been to Jellyfishland in a while, go check out Cap’n Pete’s new segment this week on etiquette. It’s fun. Nice sets, nice writing, nice puppetry… gotta love it.

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