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Practice 04

By Amy Harder

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.

Set up. The puppet should be in a fairly close head shot. This will allow you to get a good look at your puppet’s eyes. You’ll really know if you’ve got a good focus on the camera or not. As you play with this, feel free to wide out your shot and get used to practicing focus in wide shots as well.

harrumphAction. Bring your puppet to center screen. Take your time to focus directly into the camera. When you have achieved good focus, imagine that the camera has just offended you. React with a great big “Harrumph!” and turn the puppet to the side with his nose in the air. Then, look back at the camera. (Don’t go on until you have nailed that focus!) Do your Harrumph again, this time turning the opposite direction. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat again. Keep going until you can snap that focus right back to the camera.

Wrap up. Are you getting the feel of good focus? Swell. Now it’s time to play some more with this Harrumph idea. Try the next eerily similar exercise, Harrumph Harrumph.


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