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Practice 05

By Amy Harder

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!

mid shotSet up. Frame your puppet in a mid-shot with plenty of room on each side. You should already feel a bit comfortable with the focus thing, so a tight head shot is not necessary for this one. Besides, you’re going to want to see your whole puppet this time.

Action. Puppet enters center screen and focuses just like last time. However, for this game we’re going to turn our puppets completely away from the camera when we Harrumph. (If you skipped the last game, ya’ better go back and figure out what we’re talking about.) So, this time when you Harrumph, have your puppet turn his back on the camera in one almost-pivot move and add some great attitude by folding his arms and tapping his toes. If you’re having trouble with making the spin believable, do it yourself a few times to see what the action should be.

Then turn your puppet back to the camera in one move and focus. Now do your turn Harrumph again but try turning backwards the other direction. Did you stay in your shot? Ooh. That’s a hard one. Most puppeteers will find one spin direction easier than the other. Practice both ways! You never know when you’ll need that skill. Besides, it makes for a good variation on this exercise. Keep repeating this game. Turn away. Return focus. Etc.

Wrap up. OK. So far we’ve played with the quick turn snap-to focus. And we’ve played with the reversed image. Are you ready to combine the two in a new game? Watch for the next exercise, but first take a moment to think about a little puppet movement theory concerning Exit Techniques.


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