Thursday, November 24, 2005

Project Experiment

Yes, the puppet you see is of Darth Maul from the Star Wars Trilogy. No I will not be selling him (or any other character that I do not own copyrights for). He is a part of an experiment that I have undertaken for fun. A while back and new company called popped up on my radar.

The company offers professional quality puppet patterns with easy to follow instructions. I liked the look of the puppets and I thought it would be a good idea to buy a pattern or two and try them out.

But how should I use them? I enjoy building my own puppets and creating my own paterns, so I knew that I wouldn't be using the patterns to make puppets to sell. I was struck with an idea. Make Star Wars characters for my own enjoyment.

I have recently received a few Star Wars gifts (video games and DVDs) and I became preoccupied with the Star Wars universe. It seemed only natural for me to try to use these patterns to make some of my favourtie Star Wars characters.

Since Project only has three puppet patterns currently, it offered me enough of a challenge to change these basic patterns in to identifiable characters.

Here is my first attemt. Darth Maul. I used the Rotondo pattern and made a few interior design changes. I lined the inside with foam and fabric to create a nicely fitted glove for the hand. The puppet has amazing control and comfort.

I also decided to not use reticulated foam (which is propably one of the best materials you can use for these puppets) and I used basic poly foam. Why you ask? Well two reasons. First, I find working with poly foam more difficult to hide errors and thus more challenging. And second, I know most people starting out may not have access to the reticulated foam (although Project does sell it here) and I wanted to show people what can be done with basic materials like poly foam.

I simply added plastic dome eyes, used electrical tape for the pupils. I used acrylic paint for the painted details and ployester fleece for the costume. Other than that, I just followed the instructions.

I am very pleased with these puppet patterns. I would recommend them to anyone. Needless to say there will be more Star Wars puppet characters coming (as soon as I have more time to build).

"May the Force Be With You".

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Chensational Muppet Audition!

Well it was very interesting indeed this audition that I went to. Recently there was word about auditions being held for The Muppets Holding Company. The specifics were unclear, like exactly what the successful candidates would get out of it.

I decided to go anyways at least to see how my puppeteering skills held up in an audition. I don't claim to be a master impersonator, but I have always played with a few Muppet voices. Kermit and Pepe seemed to feel the most natural for me. I am a huge fan of Muppeteer Bill Baretta who performs most of my favourite Muppet characters.

So I went on audition day and did my paper work then waited around for instructions. I spoke with a few people and then then started to call in people in groups of ten. I was in the third group. We did some basic lip sync using our bare hands and ping pong ball eyes, to a rock song that was pretty fast. I don't know the name of it.

After that, six people in our group were dismissed and four were asked to stay. That group of four then went on to use the monitors. I was one of the four, so I had a turn at the monitor. It was cool because in front of us was Kevin Clash who performs Elmo (Kevin is the one on the right) on Sesame Street. The four of us were invited to the Sesame Street "workshop". I don't know what that means, but I assume that it is a chance for us to work on puppetry skills, who knows?

Anyways, I made it past the first two parts and I was asked to stay for the afternoon to try my character voices. If they liked your voices they would ask you to come back the next day and the if they didn't you would be sent home. After lunch, I went in and did a few voices; Statler, Waldorf, Kermit and Pepe (okay!?).

I guess they liked at least on of my voices, because I was asked to come back the next day.

The second day of the audition was crazy. I got to see and perform using actual Muppets! I used Kermit and Pepe. Plus I got to see a whole bunch of other Muppets. The day was a real blur. We were told at the end that they should be in touch with us in about a month or so to let us know what they decided. I am not sure what will come of all this, but it was a good experience.

I will try to keep all posted about what comes next.