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Practice 02

By Amy Harder

This article is 3rd 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.

Reversed Image: Color Test

This exercise is to expand your image reversal abilities and check to see if you really are “getting it”. Again, you’ll probably not use this exact tool in your video performance, but you will certainly use this skill. Take the time to play with it. Mix it up. Try it again. When you have truly mastered the reversed image, you will be free to concentrate on your script, your characterization, and the other things going on around you. It’s worth it!

Set-up. Frame your shot fairly wide (a mid-shot) to start. You should see the puppet’s waist, but not your head. We’ll tighten up the shot as we go on to practice head/neck isolation moves, but give yourself some room to begin with.

Now you’ll need to place four different colors in the corners of your screen. You can do this by just sticking papers on the wall behind you, making sure each one is visible on screen. Or you can place the colored paper on the corners of your monitor. Either way, you want to be able to see the colors well. Just make sure you’re not going to damage your wall or the monitor when you stick on your papers. Post-It Notes are usually pretty safe. (An alternate method would be to use numbered papers instead of the colors.)

mid shot with colorsAction. OK. You’re ready to go. Bring your puppet to center screen. Have someone call out a color (or number). As quickly and accurately as you can, turn your puppet to look towards that color. It’s normal to hesitate while your brain tries to figure out which way to turn your hand, but a true test of skill is to work towards eliminating that delay and to rely on your newly acquired knowledge.

Variation. When you start feeling comfortable with this exercise and you are more accurate than not, it’s time to change it up a bit. One thing you can do is to rearrange the placement of the colors to make sure you’re really mastering image reversal and not just remembering to turn a certain direction for a certain color.

head shot with colorsThere’s another thing you can do to vary this exercise. Remember I said that we’d tighten the shot later on? Well, it’s later and it’s time to zoom in a little. Now, I can hear ya’. “What difference is a tighter shot really gonna make?” It’s simple. Close-ups require more control to stay inside the frame. This forces you to isolate your movements to just the head and neck of the puppet. Now you’re working on smaller, more controlled movements while still playing with the color quiz. Brilliant, eh?

Wrap up. Now, how do you feel about working with the image reversal after playing with these two practice exercises? Well, grab a friend and get ready to polish those skills, this time with the addition of character interaction! Check out the next exercise: Lean Off Me.


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