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Practice 11

26 02 2007
This article is 15th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Boundaries: Everybody Loves A Parade

It’s almost time to move on to our next section. But before we do, let’s explore one more practice tool in this frame/boundaries study. For those of you that have actually followed these lessons sequentially, you’ll recognize this exercise as eerily similar to our previous game, Memory Lane. We’re going to take that basic idea and expand it–allowing you to play more with character and acting–while continuing to work on the core skill of knowing your screen frame boundaries. So, grab a friend and get ready to have some fun!

Set up. For this game, you’ll need to have plenty of room on the screen in which to move around. Set your camera to a wide enough shot that 4-5 puppets could stand side-by-side on screen. If you are in tight quarters, just go as wide as your space allows. You’ll need to work with a partner on this one and you’ll both need to work to keep the illusion alive through good puppetry and video skills. Here we go! Read the rest of this article »




Practice 10

13 02 2007
This article is 14th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Boundaries: Merry Pop-Ins

A skilled television puppeteer will not only know the boundaries of the screen, but he will also be able to use them to his advantage. In this lame-name exercise, we’ll play more with our boundaries and challenge our accuracy at the same time. And, unlike the last game, this one will be a little more interesting to watch on screen. As a matter of fact, it has the potential to be particularly humorous. Don’t get so caught up in the details that you forget the character that is on your hand. Let the personality of your puppet show through and have fun! Read the rest of this article »




Practice 09

16 01 2007
This article is 13th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Boundaries: I’m Invisible!!!

This exercise is aptly named because, if done properly, your puppet should not appear on screen. Really. And this IS going to help you learn your boundaries. Honest. Remember the last game? After you walked your puppet across the screen, you dropped him down and went back to your starting side off-screen. (What? You didn’t do the last exercise? Sheesh. Go back and do your homework before coming to class.) Read the rest of this article »




Practice 08

10 01 2007
This article is 12th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Boundaries: Memory Lane

For television puppeteers working with monitors, it is vitally important to know where the off-screen boundaries are AND be able to get there fast. This silly exercise helps puppeteers discover where this magic line exists and how to work around it. (By the way, the game was named after Gonzo’s classic Muppet Show performance of the song by the same name. If you’ve seen it, then you know what we’re going to be doing.) Read the rest of this article »




Learning Boundaries

10 01 2007
This article is 11th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

In television puppetry, no traditional puppet proscenium is necessary. The screen frame becomes your stage and provides you with new boundaries all around to consider and utilize. What some may see as limitations, I see as wonderful new opportunities with a wider range of possibilities than any traditional stage performance. Puppets can stand just off camera and lean into the shot. They can drop in from the top and appear to be hanging by their knees. And, since puppets can walk right into a scene, there’s no need for those sometimes awkward staircase entrances that are seen so frequently in traditional stage performance. We like television puppetry. Read the rest of this article »




Practice 07

14 12 2006
This article is 10th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Focus & More: Me…No, Me

This is the last exercise in our focus section. (And there was much rejoicing.) Grab a friend and try to remember what we’re working on here… focus! This is a good game for adding drama and characterizations so have fun and ham it up. Just don’t get too violent. We cannot be held responsible for your foolishness. (Puppeteers? Foolish? Come now.) Read the rest of this article »




Practice 06

13 12 2006
This article is 9th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Focus & More: Exit Stage Left

Here’s a game that provides more practice training the left/right reversal as well as increasing your ability to focus on the camera while moving. Characterization is also an important element in the variations listed below. Don’t forget that you have a personality on your hand while you’re working on the specific skills. FYI: The Exit Technique post is helpful for a little movement theory as you get into playing this game. Read the rest of this article »




Exit Techniques

13 12 2006
This article is 8th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Before we get into the the next game, we need to spend a few minutes with a little puppet movement theory. But don’t go grab a cup o’ joe just yet. First, do this: stand up, turn to the left and take a few steps, then come back. Are you back? Wait. Did you actually do it? Come on. We need full participation here. Try it. Stand up, turn to the left, take a few steps and then come back.

Now, think about what you did. In order to turn to the left, you had to shift your weight onto your right foot first… right? (If you don’t believe me, try it again in slow motion.) This is the basis for an important movement principle that I first learned from Andy Holmes, “Go left to go right, go right to go left.” Read the rest of this article »

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Practice 05

11 11 2006
This article is 7th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Focus: Harrumph Harrumph

This exercise takes the last game to the next level. Now that you’ve got the basic action down, let’s add some more characterization and attitude. And instead of a tight shot and simple head movements, this game utilizes a wider shot and the movement of the entire puppet body. You’ll know you’ve “got it” when you can be anywhere on screen and snap right back to focus in a split-second. This one is definitely worth it to master! Read the rest of this article »




Practice 04

11 11 2006
This article is 6th in a series on learning to use video monitors for puppetry. So if you’ve just linked in here, you might want to check out the Video Monitors lesson index to get the whole picture.

Focus: Harrumph

OK. So we know that focus is important for any performance, but it’s an especially valuable tool in video performance. (If you don’t know this, you must have missed the last lesson. Go back and do your homework!) This simple exercise is designed to allow the puppeteer to get used to how it feels to focus right at the camera. Take your time with this one. Remember, you’re training your brain and that takes time. Just as a musician will practice scales over and over, puppeteers need to practice the basics as well. Read the rest of this article »







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