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Practice 03

By Amy Harder

This article is 4th 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: Lean Off Me

It is important for a puppeteer to be able to think quickly, react and act appropriately. This game is another image reversal challenge, but it involves the interaction of two players. In this exercise, one puppeteer leads and the other must follow. By this time, you should be feeling a bit more comfortable with the image reversal concept, but keep playing until it’s second nature. And don’t forget to keep your puppet characters alive as long as they are on screen!

mid shot with leanSet-up. The framing for this practice should be a fairly wide mid-shot. One puppet should be seen from the waist up with a bit of white space on each side to allow room for the characters to lean to the sides from their waists.

Action. Puppet A enters and stands center screen, facing the camera. (Any type of “waiting” action is appropriate: checking watch, straightening tie, looking up and around, watching invisible people walk by, interacting with the unseen audience, etc.) Meanwhile, Puppet B secretly enters directly behind Puppet A and then leans out to the left or right (puppeteer’s choice). Puppet A must then react and lean the opposite way. Both puppets look at each other. Appropriate reactions could be surprise, disgust, fear, etc.

Now, what did we learn in Practice 1 about repetition? Don’t worry, I won’t repeat it here. But you will. Reverse roles, rinse and repeat.

Variation. This exercise is one that puppeteers tend to want to repeat over and over just to “get it”, but if you’d like something to change it up a bit, consider adding more characterization and improv practice by allowing the puppets to assume a character (pirate, rancher, jock, airhead, etc.) and move/react/interact as that character.

Wrap up. By now you should be getting the hang of this image reversal thing. If not, don’t worry. Just go back and play these games over and over. For encouragement, check out The Prodigy Myth article over at PuppetVision. Innate talent or determined practice? Hmm…

Now it’s time to change gears a bit and focus on, well, focus! Check out the intro to this next section, A Word About Focus, and then move on to the next exercise.


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