2.08.2006

Puppet Pieces

This week I'm thinking about puppets. Construction of. The little girl puppet that I used in my tests was made entirely out of plasticine, then cast in plaster, so that I ended up with two exact copies, one made out of clay, the other plaster. Then I basically took both apart, mixed them up, and put them back together. The parts I knew I would be animating (mouth, eyebrows, pigtails) remained clay, while the rest I changed to plaster. This gives me an easy place to grip the puppet during animation without fear of smooshing. Generally I like the concept, and the functionality of the mixed media, but for the Jenny puppet I want something different. The only parts of Jenny that I plan on animating are her eye, which will just spin in its socket, her mouth, which needs to open and close, and her arms and hands. Her torso, legs and head will mostly be animated on...seaweed sliming down, that sort of thing. But her body needs to be flexible, to pull herself over the pier, so instead of a clay-plaster mix, I am thinking about using
latex. Flexible surface, moldable, and best of
all, paintable, so I can really give her some texture. For Jenny's oversized arms, I sculpted in clay, made a plaster mold, and cast in latex. Then, using wire mesh and some armature wire, I sculpted her webbed hands, coated them in latex with a paintbrush, and attached them at the wrists. I'm going to give the webbing some wear-n-tear pre paintjob, but the animation test on the hands went great.
Next I did a little run test with the still-unfinished girl puppet. I painted up a forest-silhouette greenscreen, which will ultimately be used as a set background with the cabin, and animated in front of it. My setup is fairly ghetto, my stage consists of two chairs placed side-by-side...high-tech stuff. See, we (being my wife and I) have this whole, empty, spare room. We call it the Spare Room. Its actually a decent sized studio, which has slowly been filled and refilled with...stuff. It has come a long way in the last couple of months and is almost totally cleaned out, which means I will be able to set up stages, and sets, and lights...but for now, for the tests, I've got two chairs and a board.
In the pic above, I've got the light set up on one chair (unfortunately not enough light to provide a decent consistent tone for the greenscreen), the puppet, camcorder and greenscreen on another chair, captured through my hard-drive and visible on my computer's monitor. I only shot about 50 frames, maybe 2 sec. of footage. It's looped in the video test below.

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