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Practice 09

By Amy Harder

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.)

Set up. Set your camera back at the fairly wide mid-shot that you used for the beginning of last game. The shot should be wide enough for about three characters to be on the screen at once.

Action. Bring your puppet up so that he is standing just to the right or left of the screen and out of sight. Now, drop him down and pop him up on the opposite side of the screen, just out of sight. (Ahem. We don’t want to see arms flopping into the shot. Control those appendages, please.) Now, drop down and go back to where you started. Repeat this motion again. And again. See how close you can come to the edge of the screen without coming into the shot. Repeat again. Now faster. How quickly can you get from off-screen, stage-left to off-screen, stage-right without being detected by your video audience?

Now, have fun with it. Forget the mechanics and bring your character to life. Let him enjoy sneaking around just off-camera. Have him tiptoe across the bottom of the screen–without being seen, of course. This can be loads of fun. Well, for you and your character, that is. If you really have a video audience, they might be a bit bored.

Wrap up. OK. You should be getting comfortable with your new “stage”. Now that we’ve explored the limitations and have a good working knowledge of the boundaries presented by the particular camera shot, it’s time to move on and experience some of the fun possibilities now available when you know your parameters. Try the next exercise, “Merry Pop-Ins“. (I know, lame name. So fire me.)


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