Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Video update

So this may seem like a cop-out... but I assure you it's a real blog!
Like everyone in the world i've been busy recently, here is my attempt to get you up to speed with what is and isn't happening in the workshop right now. First of all I need to make an apology of sorts, which is best summed up in this video:

Things have calmed down a bit since making that video, but the Christmas break brings with it hectic activity too so I i'm taking a moment to enjoy the lull before the next storm :)

The annoying thing is I am working on a really exciting project which I am nowhere near being able to show to you all - and because it's very incomplete I can't really even talk about it which makes it worse! Anyway... all will be revealed soon I promise!

Last weekend my wife and I went on a weekend break in Barcelona. It's a great place and I certainly had some fun making videos as we were going around the Tourist sites. My video making habit is more tolerated than celebrated... but being a YouTube partner I feel a sense of duty :)

Here's a video from the weekend which I made in the Sagrada Familia:

LAST but not least - This video may well be of interest to some of you... please email me on united@kingdomfaith.com if what I talk about (in this video) interests you!

Take care and have a great Christmas - Dave

Saturday, 22 November 2008

EPMF - Festival report

So I promised a EPMF report a short while ago. Today is the day it has arrived! I have been helping to lead workshops at the EPMF for just over 10 years now, so it's become a old favourite of mine over the years. Below you can see me (in black with the red shirted puppet) leading a workshop at the Reading leg of the festival.
One of the great things about going to puppet festivals is meeting old friends and fellow puppeteers. Debra Fader (seen here with Vernon the Wolf) is a very talented puppeteer and puppet builder. Debra is based in Maine (USA) so it's more of an effort for her to attend then most... but Debra has become a favourite workshop leader and her classes are always packed.

Below is a picture for old times sake... This is me pictured with Harry Barret owner of One Way UK. When I first left college I worked full time with Harry for just over a year.

Something new for the EPMF 08 was the Puppet Academy Team. This was a new concept for 08, the team met applied online (one the One Way UK site) and met for 1 week in August. Then after that one week prep time they had to perform at both the EPMF festivals. Considering they only had one weeks preparation time they did really well. If this sounds like the sort of project you would like to be part of you can apply to be in the Puppet Academy 09 team online now.
Take care - Dave

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Recognition for Wannacott Wolf

Lots of puppet characters have made their way into peoples hearts and lives over the years... but few become fully adopted members of the family. Wannacott Wolf has recently been adopted by Wannacott.org as an official part of the Wannacott family. Take a look at the link to see for yourself :)

Take care - Dave

Monday, 27 October 2008

Puppet Festival Update

So the very first EPMF in Derby happened this weekend just past. It was a great time with about 150-200 puppeteers coming together to learn, compete and perform. I was teaching workshops on both the Friday and the Saturday, as well as judging some of the competitions so it was quite a tiring weekend... but it was fun! The venue was Derby Community Church which is almost opposite Pride Park, the home of Derby County Football Club. It was a lovely ground which looks to be very well kept and relatively new.
It was a positive weekend with lots of interest in the puppets that I took, and I am hoping to follow that up with some commissions and sales in the weeks and months ahead. I am looking forward to this weekend in Reading for the second installment of this EPMF double header... it's gonna be good.

If you're going - i'll see you there!
Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

European Puppet Ministry Festival

It's that time of year again!

That's right people One Way UK are hosting their annual European Puppet Ministry Festival in Reading (England). It's a great opportunity for puppeteers to get together and share ideas, learn and also watch some great performances. As the name of the event suggests the majority of the puppeteers who attend are Church based, or sympathetic to Christian puppetry. However the festival is by no means exclusive and other performers can and do come along to join in the activities.

This year however there is a twist - there is not just one festival as there has been over the past 15 or so years... for the first time ever One Way UK are running back to back weekends! One in Derby and the other in Reading. This should help more people from Scotland and the north of England to be able to come and join in. If you are coming, be sure to let me know and i'll keep an eye out for you.

I'm going to be leading workshops at both weekends and I'm excited to see what will happen. I'll try and get some good pics to show those of you who can't make it.
Take care - Dave

Monday, 6 October 2008

YouTube Partner Program UPDATE

So back in February of this year I wrote a blog about the Partner Program on YouTube. I stand by what I said, but there are a couple of points that need to be updated.
  1. YouTube is not designed to help you make money... but you can do it. As YouTube and Google optimise the Adwords adverts that get displayed in the box to the right hand side of your videos the more chance there is of you getting clickthoughs and ultimately that means there is a greater chance of you getting paid. I know this because in the early days I was receiving no clickthoughs (you can monitor this through the Google Adwords tool) but now I am ticking over with a few clicks a day, which has led to me receiving my first cheque from Google this morning! I am considering framing it... but to be honest I actually need it (the Lord moves in mysterious ways).
  2. So how do you get clickthroughs? Is it linked to views or content? surely the answer has to be both. My brother recently posted a video which was viewed by 70,000 people in a single day (not massive by "most viewed" standards, but very respectable really when the average video must only receive 1000 views I would imagine). That video generated half the number of clickthroughs needed to qualify him for a paycheck through the Adwords scheme. In that case I would say that views caused him to get clickthroughs... however I have received my first cheque from Google today without any stand-out success videos in my back catalogue. This means that my slow burning videos just tick along gaining a few views but they must be linked to adverts which are relevant to the videos. My vids normally get 500 - 5000 views total (there are exceptions above and below that) so how can it be that I am getting paid? It must be that Google's system for matching the advert to the video has improved. I am noticing a lot of Jeff Dunham's (Achmed the Dead Terrorist) adverts next to my videos... which makes complete sense. I am a puppeteer/puppet builder and Jeff Dunham is a ventriloquist. It stands to reason that people interested in my videos would be interested in him. Previously I have had gay dating sites and Reebok advertised next to my videos... neither are lifestyle choices I endorse!

This discussion makes me wonder whether slow burning videos or big overnight successes are better for you in the long run. Would you prefer 100,000 people to view you video overnight or over a year? You could argue that either is better depending on your point of view i guess. As for me I am beginning to favour the slow burner.

All the best folks - take care!


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

New Job!

OK so most of you guys know that I'm not a full time puppet builder... I'd love to be but for now that's not reality. However I have just got myself a new job which is the reason why I haven't posted a blog in a while. Two months ago I started to work for Kingdom Faith Church as a Community Development Officer - my main responsibility is looking after the United Bus, which is a mobile youth centre which travels around our district offering help, support, advice and (arguably most importantly) FUN to over 100 young people each week. More on all that another day, nut i thought I had better explain my absence.

Since my I-Fest reports were posted Blogger have enabled "following" on their blogs... so if you want to get updates of all the times I post a blog check that out!

As I haven't posted a workshop update for a while this video will bring you up to speed with everything that is happening at the moment.
Take care - Dave

Friday, 29 August 2008

I-Fest Inspiration, the final roundup!

OK so for those of you who didn’t go to I-Fest… or don’t have any intention of going I appreciate my last 5 blogs will have been of little interest to you. However I think the basic topics of the blogs could be applied to any puppet festival. For instance for the last two years I have been to the May Fayre (the celebration of Mr Punch’s birthday) in Covent Garden. I have been inspired and excited by puppets I have seen there… also I have met people who have inspired me and in some cases revolutionised the way I build and perform my puppets. So don’t get too hung up on the festival, look at the principals.

If I were to list my inspirations I may not be able to finish this blog post this week… so I will give you some potted highlights.
Dave and June Privett run Playsoup. They are both fantastic performers and Dave is a very talented puppet builder! Simply if you haven’t checked out there work you need to!
Todd and Amie Leibenow are the new owners of One Way Street. Todd is a great performer and he also voices many of the pre-recorded scripts released by OWS.
David Simpich wasn’t at I-Fest this year… but I have been fortunate enough to see him perform a couple of times. He is a marionette artist, and an exceptional one at that. It’s great to see someone filling theatres with an “out of favour” form of puppetry. I hope to see him perform again soon.
Christy Watkins (POWER Company) was the Dream Team director the first year I was on the Dream Team. She is a great puppet Director who adds a professional touch to any show. Christy retired from directing the POWER Company this year (the team that taught Todd Leibenow) but she plans to continue teaching at regional festivals in the US and hopefully the UK to.
I think it’s important that whoever you are and whatever you achieve you still look around you and allow yourself to get inspired by other artists and performers. I look forward to meeting more inspiring individuals in the weeks and months ahead!

Take care – Dave

Monday, 25 August 2008

I-Fest roundup 4 (only one more to go)

The thing that really makes experiences like I-Fest special is the people you meet and the friendships you make. As always it was great to meet up with friends from all over the USA who we would never normally get to meet up with. Dave and June Privett, Todd and Amy Liebenow, Paul and Christine Morley to name but a few. This year however we travelled all the way to Chicago and spent the majority of our time with a Puppet team from Essex! Essex is just an hours drive from home… so we certainly took the scenic route to meet up with Smile Puppet Ministry. John and Ella Havell lead Smile Puppet Ministry. There are a really active puppet team who perform all over the world. I am really looking forward to meeting up with John and Ella now we’re all back in the UK. It is one of those strange situations… I knew John and Ella before I-Fest, I think I first met them about 6 years ago, but I had never really worked with them on anything. John and I were both conference assistants over the week and really hit it off. John has an automatic head start in life – he is a Spurs fan!

Here you can see being very long-suffering enduring one more of my many stories. Hopefully within the next couple of months I will be able to bring you more about Smile, as we are hoping to meet up towards the end of the summer.

All the best – Dave

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Puppet Gladiators... I-Fest roundup 3

One Way Street staff Ryan Spittler and Branden Treu created a brand new event competition for I-Fest 2008: Puppet Gladiators!

The contest brought about some great drama and was really a great addition to the festival feel of the week. The two gladiator rod style puppets are equipped with a sword in one hand and shield in the other. As far as my memory serves me the joints of the hands, elbows, shoulders and necks are held together by magnets. The point of the game being once combat starts you aim to “disarm” or behead your opponent, whilst keeping your own gladiator in tact. Sadly I was leading workshops during the preliminary rounds of competition so I couldn't join in the contest, but it certainly looked like great fun!

I have tried to search the Internet for clips… I know someone who was watching the event would have put it on YouTube. Above you can see the best clip I could find.

All the best – Dave

Friday, 15 August 2008

I-Fest report 2

OK - yes I realise that there has been a long wait for this... what can I say? I've been kinda busy.
Right where were we?

So at the beginning of July I posted a blog from I-Fest, I can't honestly say if this was me writing up my workshop notes or me blogging... but this is certainly me on the computer at I-Fest! During the week I was working as a Conference Assistant and a workshop leader. I have lead lots of workshops in the UK and quite a few around Europe as well but I had never taught in the USA before and for some reason I found myself to be very nervous. I think this was because I-Fest has played a huge part in my puppetry career and many of the "defining moments" I can think of in my puppetry experience all happened there.

I am pleased to report that the workshops went a lot better than I had expected them to go. By the end of the week the "Getting to grips with Arm Rods" class I lead went so well I would rank it alongside some of my best ever workshops... which was nice. This pic shows me mid flow in the workshop ...it was really fun. I had prepared this workshop just for I-Fest and actually turned out so well it will be a workshop that I will teach more often.
For some reason when I first said I went to I-Fest some people emailed me saying "but aren't you English?" ...Well yes I am, but my wife and I travelled out to Chicago specially for it. BUT if you are in the UK or Europe and you would like to be part of something similar to I-Fest with great puppetry teaching and lots of resources available I recommend you make an effort to get to the European Puppet Ministry Festivals in either Reading or Derby this year! I will be teaching at both and we are expecting to have a great time. Check One Way UK's website for details.
Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

I-Fest report number 1

I'm gonna have to do a couple of these to try and explain how the week went. It was a great time and I want to try and share different aspects of the week with you.

Firstly it was great to take Pierre and the gang outside and see them in different surroundings. Here you can see Pierre hanging around on campus. I also managed to get some photos of the other puppets we took out and about (see bottom of post)

My wife and I were invited to take part in the performance on the international evening, this was a fantastic opportunity to share our style of puppetry with the whole festival crowd. There were about 35 people at I-Fest who were international guests so it was nice to have been one of the three teams chosen to perform. You can see a picture of Pierre on stage on Puppetgirl's blog. After the International evening there was a reception for all the international guests... this was a great chance to meet other puppeteers from all over the globe. Possibly the most bizarre thing was meeting another couple from the UK who are full time puppeteers who I had never met before! Funny how these things happen.

More to follow, but that's all for now.
Take care - Dave

Friday, 11 July 2008

Checking in from I-Fest

I'm sitting here in a computer room in the College where I-Fest is being held... and i've just found Internet access so I thought I would post a quick blog on here.
It's been a great week so far with loads of great feature performers and lots of workshops and competitions to join in. It's great to meet so many other performers and share ideas and experiences (there are about 750 people here). I really look forward to getting home and down loading my photos so I can share some of the experience with you a bit better.
Last night was the blacklight (UV puppetry) competition and there were 10 entries! all in the competition took about 2 hours to get through... that's a lot of blacklight! I didn't even try to get any photos as using flash photography spoils the effect and sadly they all get camera-shake unless the puppet is standing perfectly still (which isn't going to happen).
We leave on Sunday so we will probably not be posting anything up until about Tuesday when we have recovered, but photos will follow that's for sure.
Take care - David

Friday, 4 July 2008

I-Fest here we come!

I have mentioned before that I will be going to I-Fest this year with my wife Shelley. It's going to be a great time and we are really looking forward to it. I have just got home from visiting the local post office to pick up some US dollars in anticipation of picking up a bargain in the exhibits hall. As I was picking up the money I had a bit of a think back to all the visits to I-Fest I had made before when I was younger. I went 5 times between the ages of 16 and 21... it was great, it was a really good place to watch and learn from very experienced puppeteers who were happy to help and encourage you on. I will try and take lots of photos over the next week so I can share some of the moments with you all... and i'm sure there will be time for a quick video at some point.

If you're going to I-Fest, i'll see you there!
All the best - Dave

ps Happy Independence Day to all across the pond!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Parrot Puppet

I was contacted 2 weeks ago by someone on facebook and was asked to build them a parrot puppet. I based the new character on the previous birds i have designed, but i decided to make this one a bit more flamboyant.

As you can see here whilst the finished Parrot is still small it makes a big impact with the Mohawk and bright coloured markings. Although you cannot see them in this picture i hand dyed some ostrich feathers and glued them into the Mohawk. They are dyed to match the colour of the eye surrounds. I will be shipping the Parrot tomorrow so i am writing this blog post as a way of enjoying it while i still have it.

On a completely different note for all of you puppeteers and puppet builders out there who have not yet signed up to Puppet Hub, i recommend it!

Take care - Dave

Thursday, 29 May 2008

On Tour

Last week I had a bit of a whirlwind week... but it was great. I am working on a touring show at the moment. It is great to be performing in theatres again, I have spent lots of time more recently performing for video and building puppets so to be out and about on the road again it's great.

I am very fortunate to be working on a really well known show, partly because it's great experience... but also because the set and puppets are really fun to work with. I hope to post some pics next week. In the mean time below you will find a video blog I made whilst in my hotel room last weekend.

Take care - Dave

Monday, 19 May 2008

Unimog Wheelie and Car Crush

Some of you will know that in my spare time I like to DJ... this past weekend I was DJing at a great event called "Ultimate Car Ultimate Life?". It was organised by my local church and is not at all what you may expect a church car show to be like (if you even think a church would organise a car show).

The highlight of the day for me was definitely seeing the Unimog wheelie and then crush two cars from the vantage point of the scaffolding tower I had been DJing from.
Check it out, take care - Dave

Friday, 16 May 2008

Horse Puppet

You may remember the Horse Sock Puppets I made last year. They're not real "sock puppets" as you can see... but the idea for them came to me when I was thinking about sock puppets and what a large puppet in the style of a sock would look like. Basically if you were to turn the puppet upside down you see the colours are broken down into the shapes of a classic sock. It's a bit of fun.
I was asked to build a Horse puppet last week for someone who was interested in the Horse Sock Puppets but wanted to also see a more "realistic" horse as well. I enjoy making cartoon style characters so I didn't go very far down the realism route but I did make another character again using roughly the same pattern. You can see here that basic shape remains the same but all the playschool colours have gone and instead fur fabric takes its place. I kept the eyes much the same because I like the open cartoon eyes and I think they are a key part to making this character style so friendly. The new style horse wound up being called Smoulder because for some reason I burnt my fingers a lot on the glue gun finishing him off! Despite this I am pleased with the outcome... I hope you like him too.
Take care - Dave

Monday, 12 May 2008

The May Fayre

You may or may not be familiar with the good old English tradition of Punch and Judy. If you'd like to find out more about the history and tradition of Punch and Judy there's plenty of info out there - Google it! I don't think I have got what it takes to be a Punch and Judy professor... saying that i've never tried it (it's a safe bet though to say i'd be rubbish at it).

But there is more to the May Fayre than Punch and Judy shows, there was also a mini gathering of puppeteers from the Puppet Hub website. Some of the puppeteers I met yesterday included: Phil Fletcher and Carl Chadd (of the Gluvets), Ronnie Le Drew (of Zippy fame), Warrick Brownlow Pike (Oucho from CBBC), Darryl Worbey (the list is endless) Justin Tai, Tony Sinnet and Jan King - all great puppeteers please check out their sites!

It really was a good day out. For the most part I completely forgot I had my camera with me, but I did make a short video on my phone about the day... check it out below.

Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Muppets Rick Rolling!

You may or may not be familiar with the internet phenomenon of Rick Rolling. If you don't know what it is never fear you're in good company... YouTube managed to Rick Roll about 7 Million viewers on April Fool's day!

If you're sitting at home wondering what Rick Rolling is - Google it!

In a new twist on this old trick the YouGotRickRolled channel on YouTube have released a fantastic Muppet version of the video. Check it out for yourself below:

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Puppet Update

I was experimenting with some new techniques the other day so I thought the best way to work out if they were successful was to make a new character... so ladies and gentlemen please give a warm welcome to Konk!
Konk is made almost entirely from antron fleece. His arms are long pile fur fabric. His head is made completely from reticulated foam for extra durability. I carved his nose out of a block of square foam, and dyed it to suit the rest of the character. Konk is all complete and I am pleased to say I am really pleased with the results. If you would like to take a closer look at him you're more than welcome, in fact he's sitting on ebay at the moment waiting for someone to collect him :)
All the best - Dave

Friday, 11 April 2008

Kite Surfing

It's a long standing Hellyer family tradition to visit Worthing beach. Worthing is about 25 minutes drive from where we live and my family have been going to that beach for generations... in fact my Grandma lives in Ferring which is right next door to Worthing. Grandma Helen is a living legend, she turned 100 last summer! Needless to say that was the cause for much celebration in our family. Check out the video below if you want an insight into what went on that day:

However back to the main point. Following in my family's footsteps my wife and I made the short drive down to Worthing this evening. Today was a very windy April day and the Kite Surfers were out in force! I counted 8 of them in a 200 metre stretch. We sat on the beach and watched them for a while - they were very entertaining. Video below... apologies in advance for the quality, I shot this on my phone so it's not quite broadcast quality :)

Take care - Dave

Monday, 7 April 2008

Thank You!

OK this is just a quick note to say thanks to all those of you who do read my blog. It seems the majority of visitors are just interested in my blog on the YouTube Partner program and how much it pays... but my google analytics tells me that's not all thee traffic. I would like to hold an impromptu awards ceremony for blog views!

The countries which have spent the longest average time viewing my blog are:
  1. Morocco
  2. Ukraine
  3. Bolivia

The countries which have explored the blog the most are:

  1. Belgium
  2. Turkey
  3. Romania

and the countries with the most page views are:

  1. USA
  2. UK
  3. Canada

I know this will be of very little interest to many of you... but it kinda tickled me. Have a great day! - Dave

Monday, 24 March 2008

Puppet building bonanza!

Over the last few weeks since returning from holiday i have gradually been getting more and more busy. This past Easter weekend saw the activity hit an all time high. I'm working on a project at the moment that requires lots of characters all of a similar size and shape, as a result i am patterning universal body parts wherever possible. You can see in this photo a pile of arms ready to be glued into shape. I don't normally "mass produce" anything, I guess I prefer the personal touch, but it has been a fun learning curve.

It's been an extraordinary project in many ways. Today i have dyed more fabric than ever before... two hours were spent slaving over a boiling dye pot! It's not easy work let me tell you, but it's very satisfying knowing that you have created something from scratch, even down to the hand-dying the fabric. I am at the final stage of construction before the first character is finally ready to be covered, work on that will start in a couple of hours once the fabric has dried out. Here is the blank head of the character "Naymlap". I hope to have him completed tomorrow, I will be posting pictures once he is finished.

I hope you've have a good rest over the Easter holiday period, take care - Dave

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Is it just me?

Is it just me or is this year flying past? I keep on meaning to write updates on here and whenever i get the chance i check the date of my last post and i am shocked it was so long ago.

I mentioned before that I have been in talks with the Museum in Peru about building some characters for them... that's all still in progress. I am building prototypes for approval at the moment. It's nice to be involved in a project which is challenging because it is completely different from the norm. Normally people want cartoon style characters with lots of stand out features etc, but this job is different. The museum quite rightly has a very clear goal of what the want to see made, and it's a great challenge to work towards this. Apart from anything else it's a great discipline!

This summer I will be attending I-Fest for the first time in 6 or 7 years! It's really exciting and I hope to learn a lot. I am excited to be teaching my first ever workshops out there this year, which is a great honour for me because I am someone who has learnt so much at I-Fest workshops down the years. I have been fortunate enough to be on tow puppetry Dream Teams at I-Fest in the past so I have some very fond memories of that particular puppet festival and I am really looking forward to meeting some old friends while I'm out there. I am planning to travel with Harry Barrett from One Way UK, so it looks like it's shaping up to be an old school reunion!

Have a great Easter - Dave

Sunday, 9 March 2008

The Peruvian Connection

So I must apologise for being slack in posting recently... I have been really busy and honestly haven't had a chance. I am hoping for things to calm down a bit in the next week or so.

Before I went away on my holiday I received an email out of the blue from a gentleman in Peru. This in itself is not completely out of the ordinary as i have been fortunate enough to receive emails from people all round the world saying how much they enjoy Pierre's videos etc. However this email was different, whilst he had seen Pierre's videos that wasn't the point of the correspondence. He is a representative from the National Sican Museum of Peru, and he has commissioned me to build the puppets for the Education Centre at their museum. This project is not going to be a small one, and will probably be the subject of many more blogs in the future. It is a real honour to be allowed to be a part of this project. I will be creating some really unique characters for the museum over the next few weeks and months, and i will show them to you as and when they are complete. The concept sketches that have come through look great so i am really excited about turning them into reality.

I'll keep you posted.
All the best - Dave

Monday, 3 March 2008

The Happy Hamster

I've just got back off my holiday and I will be updating you with all the latest happenings very soon - but first I have to share this video with you. This afternoon we popped round to my parents to say "hi" to Mum (what with it being mother's day and all) and my Dad introduced us to his new Hamster!

All the best - Dave

Sunday, 17 February 2008

YouTube Partner program explained...

When did you first use YouTube?
  • 2005 possibly if you were really quick off the mark.
  • 2006 is quite likely... Myspace was expanding rapidly at that time and the video hosting it offered was rubbish. As a direct result YouTube profitted hugely by enabling people to use the "embed code" to place their videos (hosted by YouTube) on their Myspace pages.
  • 2007 saw YouTube firmly establish itself as the market leader in online video, now with many people starting to call online videos "YouTube" videos regardless of which site actually hosted them.
Well for the old school fans amongst us you will remember the days of the YouTube "Director account". This was a scheme run in 2006 to try and reward the well behaved content producers by giving them some extra rights and customisations on their channel. Typically this included the ability to upload videos longer than 10 mins or 100MB. It also allowed them to display a logo alongside their videos. There was no money involved until the very end of 2006 when several YouTube directors were approached by YouTube to create Christmas and New Year videos. This was the very beginnings of the YouTube Partner Program. Mid 2007 being a Director lost all kudos because the program was opened up to everyone and is now simply achannel type in a drop down menu that you can select... whereas before you had been made to apply and be approved. The hangover from the good old days can be found HERE, the old "/director" page on the YouTube site which is now a graveyard channel which serves only as a reminder of what once was :)

I have recently been approved as a YouTube partner on both my YouTube channels. Almost exactly a year after i was approved as a YouTube director. 1 year on the benefits of these programs are pretty much the same. I will not make any money out of the partner program (it's not actually possible to) the point of the partner program is to give people the ability to customise their channel pages and feel more involved in the site. I have to say that the added features definately improve the look of the average channel page and I think it may well roll out to all channels in a years time (much like the old director channels are now open to all).

How do I know i won't ever make any money out of the partner program? Simple really, I don't receive anywhere near enough views. Top YouTubers like Nalts, LisaNova and Renetto can reasonably expect to get 10,000 - 20,000 views per video regardless of what it is, with some getting far more! Views is the key thing here. BusinessWeek reported this week that click-throughs on social networking sites are significantly lower than that recieved on other sites (4/10,000 rather than 20/10,000). This is significant because the partnership that YouTube offers is one that shares revenue with you from funds raised by GoogleAdwords. A friend of mine recently started a website and has advertised using GoogleAdwords as they are extremely effective. He pays something in the region of 15p per click-through. This means that even if i were to get Renetto's views i would only ever recieve at most 60p per video (assuming YouTube passed on the whole 15p to me - which we both know they wouldn't). Well we all like getting pocket money don't we... any revenue sharing under the current partner program on offer would definately be pocket money. Except YouTube clearly state in their T&Cs that they will not pay out any money due to partners until it reaches $100.00 (£50.00)... that's a whole lot of 60p videos!

So how are people like Renetto and Zipster08 able to talk about geting regular Money off YouTube? The original partner program is a pay-per-view deal. For every person that views their videos for more than 30 seconds they get paid. YouTube claim these partners are able to take home around $1000.00 per month.

So where does this leave you and me? Feeling exactly like we did with the Director channels a year ago.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day folks :)

Ever since the Muppets stormed onto the scene puppetry has been a romantic affair... Miss Piggy constantly chasing the affections of Kermit, and Gonzo with his chickens. It certainly is a far cry from the wife beating antics of Punch and Judy.

So today for all the "lovers and dreamers" out there... here is the crex81 channel's valentines day offering:

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Loch Ness Monster!

For many years people have argued over the existance of the Loch Ness Monster... nobody honestly knows if it is real or not, However you can be sure that if it was real it would probably look nothing like this:I was sitting around in my workshop last week playing with ideas in my head and sketching them out everynow and again... for some bizarre reason i couldn't shake the thought that i needed to build a Loch Ness Monster puppet :)

Well one week later here is Nessie! I hope to make some videos with him for the crex81 channel but that all depends on the time i have over the next week or so. Nessie is my playful interpretation of the Loch Ness Monster, in a classic tourist syle. I visited Loch Ness about 15 years ago now, but i still remember the tacky tourist ornaments of Nessiethat you could buy. This is my attempt to bring one of those ornaments to life.

All the best - Dave

Friday, 8 February 2008

Puppets on sale

This past week has been a busy one for me so unfortunately i haven't been able to post much. A week ago today i was busy filling out forms for my YouTube partners application. I managed to make it through the three rounds of the application process successfully, i am now approved as a Partner on both my crex81 and hellyersonline channels.

Billy the emo Kid sold on ebay! He went to one of my youtube friends mbpearce76... if Mike does a video recieving the puppet i will link it to this page. I was planning to put the purple monster on ebay this week as well, but unfortunately for anyone who was eyeing him up (i had had a couple of enquiries when i posted his pictures) I have already sold him! I met with Harry Barrett from One Way UK this week and he bought him as soon as he saw him! I will work on some more characters for ebay soon.

In other news... I attended the Super Bash on Sunday night at Battersea Evolution. It was NFL UK's Superbowl party. Having watched the Giants beat the Dolphins at Wembley late last year i was delighted to see them go on to win the Superbowl. This links nicely to the hot news topic for this week. The Premier League have announced this week they wish to play regular season games outside the UK just like the NFL trialed last year at Wembley. The suggestion has recieved a mixed reaction. I think it is sadly just a tool to get the rich clubs even richer, the clubs with a big enough global appeal will be the Liverpool, Man Utds and Chealseas of this world - not the Derbys and Readings.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Progress in the Workshop

I am recovering from Superbowl Sunday... i went up to Battersea Park to the Super Bash hosted by NFL-UK. It was a great night with a turnout of 4,000 people. Following the Giants win at Wembley last year over the Miami Dolphins the majority of the crowd (myself included) were rooting for the Giants. What a fantastic game... two really important plays from Eli Manning turned the game around. A famous victory for the underdog!

Anyway back to puppetry - Billy the emo Kid is on Ebay and going to be sold on Wednesday. Check out the video below to see him. Newbie the purple monster will be going onto Ebay once the sale of Billy has finished. My partnership application with YouTube got approved on saturday. Having read all the small print i doubt i will make any money off it, but at least i have now got control over the banners on my page! I'll be posting more progress soon.

Take care - Dave

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Upstaged - take a bow

Unfortunately i am having to bow out of Upstaged before it has even started. This is due to a combination of prior work commitments and late notice on their part. If i have really pushed i could have made it work, but to be honest it wasn't worth the effort. What makes this early exit even more annoying is the BBC just activated their rating system today and i was ranked 19th overall out of 150+ contestants.

On a better note YouTube have released their partner program in the UK and i have cleared the first two stages of approval for that... so who knows i may yet become a YouTube partner!

Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Take home a little piece of the workshop

Some of you will remember that i started this puppet a while ago but never finished it. Well good news is here! I found myself with some unexpected free time yesterday and i finished him off. And even better i am pleased to announce that he is on ebay as of NOW!

If you are a puppeteer or you are a collector and would like to own a "one-of-a-kind" 20inch boy puppet then bid away :)

It's the first puppet i've ever sold on ebay... so i hope somebody sees it who likes it. If it goes well i will be putting more characters up there for sale.
All the best folks - Dave

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Newbie Tuesday!

Last night i was very excited to put the finishing touches on my first ever character with a moving eyebrow mechanism. I learnt a lot about what to do and what to avoid... in all the character had 3 sets of eyebrows made for him until i was finally happy with the result. This is a landmark character in a couple of ways really, firstly due to the eyebrows but also because of the fur. I bought this purple fur fabric in a tiny fabric store in Brighton last summer, it's about 4 inch long pile. This is the longest fur i have ever worked with... it was great fun but very messy (despite my best efforts to be tidy!).

"Newbie" as he is known at the moment (it's a phase they all go through) is a single handed human arm puppet - made specifically for a solo performer. This means there is no second hand hanging around waiting for a second puppeteer. Newbie is made for a right handed puppeteer.

Take care folks - Dave

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Upstaged update

Things are moving on slowly with the BBC3 Upstaged project. There are only 90 contestants so far (correct at time of writing) yet it takes forever to get your material approved on their web site. Needless to say this has been frustrating for many of the performers who are waiting for their content to clear. Those who were fortunate enough to get their videos cleared first are receiving good viewing figures on the site... whereas those whose videos took longer to clear are receiving very few views. It strikes me that the BBC didn't do too much research of other video hosting sites as because the video content is actually quite hard to navigate. There are three options for filtering the videos: newest, top rated and most viewed. That will only serve to propel the people with lots of views even higher up the chart... but hey, that's life i suppose. I guess as a regular YouTuber i take for granted the many search options: most viewed, most discussed, most rated not to mention the fact that you can filter by sort (comedy, entertainment, travel, blogs, education etc etc). The thing that made me laugh most was i posted my pitch video on YouTube the same night as on Upstaged, it took 14 hours to clear on Upstaged and only 14 minutes on Youtube - lol

Brand new characters will be coming to you from the workshop very soon... i am working on a very exciting project at the moment. It's my very first character with animated eyebrows. I will post pics in the next couple of days.

all the best folks - Dave

Friday, 25 January 2008

UPSTAGED pitch video

Well the UPSTAGED website is live and lots of people have started uploading their pitch videos etc. Well i am no different, please take a minute to check out my pitch below.

I am not holding out much hope of getting through to the next round because nothing in me wants to go round begging for people to vote for me... it just seems tradgic. If you want to check out BBC3 and the UPSTAGED project please do, but if you don't i won't be the least bit offended :)

take care - Dave

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

BBC3's Upstaged

I heard about a BBC3 show called UPSTAGED which is happening online on the BBC website and their TV channel BBC3. Basically it's a talent/popularity contest where the winner wins £10,000. It seemed like a good enough idea to me so i signed up today. If you want to check out my profile on their site you will find it HERE! I will be uploading a pitch video shortly, but i need to decide my final plans before i do that.

That's it for today really, check out the site if you get the chance...

all the best - Dave

Friday, 18 January 2008

Diddy is Finished!

The sewing machine was fixed yesterday and in no time at all Diddy was completed. I'm really pleased it all worked out so well despite the unplanned interruption in the middle which could have really knocked me off course. Diddy is the smallest puppet i have made at only 12 inches in height, but he makes up for it in having bundles of character. I really like his colourful and open face.

I made him based on a couple of photos i found on the internet... but having learnt from my lion puppet i remembered not to worry about being too lifelike but to concentrate on the key features. For me this was made easy by using a simple technique which we all used to use at school - tracing! I loaded the photo into Microsoft Publisher (don't ask why i use it... but i use it for everything) and used the line art tool to trace the basic shape of the Puffin. This automatically edited out any complex and unnecessary features (shading etc). It was a great way of working out the essence of the character without going into too much detail and making the project too hard. You can see here the sketch that i made up is realistic but quite cartoony.
I am pleased to have him finished and look forward to showing him off in future :)
Take care - Dave

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Brief Techy Update

Hi folks - really sorry i haven't posted in the last week. I will probably be posting this weekend with pics from my latest project. This is just a brief update to say that i have added two new features to the blog. Firstly the YouTube video bar in the bottom right. This video bar automatically updates with my latest crex81 videos, so if you're not the sort of person that uses YouTube you can catch all the latest vids here instead. Also "Hello" to all the Facebookers out there! I have added a live update from my Facebook page. This is just a bit of fun, but if you're a regular reader and you have a Facebook why not drop me a line - it'd be great to hear from you! (same goes for Myspace - the link's in the side)

That's it for today, the puffin is 90% complete so i will post pictures soon.
Take care - Dave

Friday, 11 January 2008

2008 has been a crazy year... and it's only the 11th!

My year started on a bad note - my trusty sewing machine decided to break again! It's with the menders at the moment and i am chomping at the bit ready and waiting for it to return so i can finish off my latest project (a puffin). I have been talking to people about it and they all ask - "why a puffin?" to which the only honest answer is "why not?". Whilst they are loevly birds i have no particular emotional tie to them... i just liked their colourful beaks i think so i decided to make one. Below is a video i made in the heat of the moment about the sewing machine.

I will pick up the sewing machine next week if all things go well. Since then my week has been fantastic. I have recieved some really encouraging emails from people who have been watching my YouTube videos as well as having been contacted by two TV networks who are interested in using my puppets on their channels! So even though i have only lived 11 days in 2008 i have already decided this is gong to be a good year!

all the best folks :) Dave

Saturday, 5 January 2008


Vernon is the name chosen for the new character. Check out the video below to see him in action. I'm just checking in briefly today to say whilst i have started another new character i have managed to break my sewing machine yet again so it amy be a week or so before it gets finished unfortunately. I will of course keep you posted with any updates.

All the best - Dave

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Out with the old...

...and in with the new year!

Happy New Year to everyone (and anyone) who reads this! So in a mad dash of creativity before 2007 ended my wife and i decided to make one last puppet. Because time was against us we decided to make another wolf but in a totally different colour scheme and with different furs. It was a great challenge which was very enjoyable and kept me up until 2am 3 nights running but Vernon is now complete! You can see his head here (on the left). I had managed to pick up the beige fur really cheap in the local market by chance about 3 weeks ago so i was thrilled it turned out so nicely and also that i got a chance to use it. You can see from my expression i was pleased with my achievement... this photo was taken at about 2am Saturday morning and i hadn't got to bed yet - i'm not sure if i was more pleased at having finished the head or the fact that i was finally going to get some sleep. The next photo is a full body picture of Vernon, he is a human arm puppet.

2007 was an amazing year for me... full of highs and lows. However i can't help but be positive about the steps forward i have taken in the past year with my puppet building. Characters like Vernon were the sort of character i used to aim for but never achieve, but times have changed and thanks to help from some great friends (Dave Privett, Phil Fletcher and Harry Barrett to name a few) i have realised my ambitions! This one triumph is of course not the end, but it is a great first step along the way. I look forward to a fantastic '08 and hope to be bringing you more great characters very soon!

All the best - Dave