Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Don’t put yourself at the top of the Christmas tree!

Both as an individual and as a puppet builder (or puppeteer) you should never put yourself at the top of your Christmas tree!

What do I mean by that? Simply this: you need heroes, role models… or at the least people you respect and look up to. If you live your life thinking that you are the “bee’s knees” and that you are untouchable you quickly develop a truly abhorrent arrogant streak in your personality. If you want to move forward as an individual or in your art you can never allow yourself to rest on your laurels safe in the knowledge “I am it”. The old phrase says “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive” – you need to keep a goal ahead of you in order to move forward.

At Christmas time many people start to think about the holidays and some people even discuss what the reason for the season really is. I believe Christmas is a chance to take a look around and see what other people have done and allow ourselves to be inspired into action. Jesus was born in a stable, not a Hilton. He came to give his life for people who often despised and rejected him. He did not come for the rich and the wealthy – but rather associated with the broken and needy people. It’s inspirational stuff. It’s completely the opposite of what we would do if we were to plan how to “save the world”. I would remind you - don’t put yourself at the top of your Christmas tree. Always have someone to look up to!

Even if you’re not celebrating Christmas this year, the motto still rings true for you too! Look at the work of others that you admire… don’t allow yourself to become over-proud of your own achievements but instead prefer others. Look up to other people who inspire you and let them spur you on to greater things.

Do I have any puppetry heroes or people that inspire me to build better puppets? Of course! I know my limits and I am constantly seeing other people’s work and being amazed by it. Here are some neat links which will help blow the lid off your comfortable world of shop bought puppets!

Dave Privett – Fantastic puppet builder… first inspired me to build puppets over 10 years ago.
Phil Fletcher – Great puppet builder and performer! Helped me take some massive steps to improve my puppet building.
Philip Hatter – Another great puppet builder who keeps turning out puppets that make me say wow!

Lastly, I saw this video online last week from Furry Puppet Studio – it was a bit of an inspirational moment for me… so here it is (enjoy):

Take care – Dave
Happy Christmas!

Geoff the Parrot's view of The Great Adventure

Here's a quick back stage tour of The Great Adventure... This video isn't going to change the world, but you won't understand my next video unless I upload this one :)

Take care - Dave

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Geoff the Parrot puppet!

Regular readers will know that I have been working on a project called The Great Adventure... you will have seen already that I helped to design the cooker for the show, which I was responsible for animating. However the cooker was not my main reason for working on the show - no no... the main reason for me working on the show was Geoff the Parrot!

You can see here that Geoff is a friendly looking parrot who has movable wings. My challenge with Geoff was to build a parrot puppet whose wings could flap, but without any visible rods.
What I ended up doing was creating L shaped wire skeletons for the wings which pivoted at the edge of the foam body of the puppet. The short end of each L shape has a to rod attached to it which hangs down the inside of the puppet's body. This enables both wings to flap either together or individually depending on how you pull them down.

This is all made possible because the body is is quite simply huge! You can see from the photo of the cast below the size of the completed puppet. The puppet wasn't simply large to fit in all the mechanics, practically speaking it needed to be large as The Great Adventure was performed in a 600 seater auditorium stuck right at the back of the stage... Geoff needed to be large just to be seen!

I am pleased to say Geoff was a huge hit with the live audience - I hope you like him too!
Take care - Dave

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Great Adventure - cooker update

So last time I told you how my good friend Steve had built a cooker for our Christmas production called The Great Adventure. Here's a short video of the cooker at work. It worked a treat in the show... it looked really smart and got some good laughs!

take care - Dave

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Great Adventure

So i've been building the Parrot for The Great Adventure lately... and I also have to build a stove that is animated. Well I use the term "I" in the loosest possible sense here: Steve have actually built the thing, as I have been on Paternity leave for almost t
he entire construction process. I have however graced him with my presence to offer some friendly advice and cut the odd piece of wood here and there.
So here's the artists impression of what we had to build. A kind of "beauty and the beast - esque" cooker which we needed to bring to life with bubbling pots and pans etc. Steve has built the whole body of it and finished it off brilliantly - I am just tinkering with the finished product and giving it some visual interest by animating parts of it.

Here you can see our progress so far:
The window in the middle that you can see is the "wood burning" section of the cooker. This will have a false fire in it which I can show you when completed. The pots and pans on the top of the cooker will bubble and jostle on the top of the stove to indicate a real live cooker is on stage. The small rectangular shapes you see resting on the top on the cooker are the door fronts for the cooker... these will be loosely fixed so we can "leak" smoke out of the doors o show that it is working hard.

This photo shows you how much work we still have to do... we open next Thursday! However we are confident that this will be an excellent asset to the show ans we're looking forward to seeing it completed!

Take care - Dave