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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Editing Trick: Cropping

We are now going to talk about cropping. In a way, it’s similar to clipping, except it’s so much more useful. In last week’s editing trick about clipping, I mentioned that you can clip out the stuff on the edge that you don’t want people to see, such as a puppeteer’s hands. The result would be a letterbox kind of effect, and it works well for Episode 1: Making a Podcast because it’s only one shot throughout.

But, what if you have a few different videos that you are going to cut together (like in Episode 2: iBottle), but they each have different edges you need to clip out? It would look really dumb to have one video footage missing the top, and then three seconds later, another video footage that’s missing the right edge. This is when cropping become very useful because you can hide that fact that some parts of the original footages are missing. No weird letterbox-ness here!

Now let’s talk about how to get this done (in Adobe Premiere Pro, that is, since that’s what I use to edit these videos). First, this is the footage we want to fix. Notice that the green backdrop is not covering the right edge and we want that gone so the whole background just look green.

First, under Video Effects => Transform, find Crop. Drag it into the Effects Controls window.

Now we want to tell the program which part should be gone. In this case, we want the right-most several pixels to be gone. So under Crop, find the property Crop Right and set it to a value big enough to cover up what you don’t want to see. In this case, it’s 5 pixels. You can see that the non-green part on the right edge is now gone.

But wait, how is this different from clipping? The difference is you have this option called Zoom. Now go ahead and click on it.
And… the program magically stretched the remaining image horizontally so it covers up the whole visible area.

Now, doesn’t that stretch the image and make the character look “fatter”? Well, it does, if you compare the third and fourth pictures carefully. However, this is very subtle and I doubt that anyone would’ve caught it. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I weren’t the editor myself.

That’s one editing trick that I’d probably use over and over every time I have a bad footage. Of course, the best way to have good footage is still to be careful when you are filming, but if you are already done filming, this is a very useful way to avoid shooting things over again when the video footage is mostly good and you just have a little complaints about a tiny bit of pixels on the edge.

Useful/Interesting puppetry websites to look at

Here’s a list of sites that have been useful to me. Some of them have to do with puppet building, some puppeteering techniques, and some are just fun to look at. Maybe there are even better sites out there, but they are of no use to them if I don’t actually visit them, right? So here are the sites that I actually visit regularly. You can also find them (and more) in the links page.

PuppetVision Blog
This site is updated daily with lots of information about puppetry. The author Andrew posts up a lot of links that’s worth checking out, including interesting puppet videos online, puppet building tips, puppetry events, puppeteer interviews and more. Many sites that I regularly read and am recommending here are actually found originally via his blog.

Puppetry Lab
Puppeteer / puppeteering instructor Amy Harder posts many puppeteering tips on this site. The most useful thing on this site I found are the instructional videos. For example, there’s a video showing you how to hold the arm rods. I’ve seen a lot of introductory puppeteering articles simply say form the rods into an X but this is really vague to many people until you actually see a video showing the puppeteer’s hand in action. There are also other helpful tutorials on how to make your puppet swim, and how to utilize the camera, etc. It’s a site worth checking out.

The Wippets
This is a podcast by self-taught puppeteer Ron and his gang. It’s the home of Barff, Spafford, and more recently, Jimmy and Phil. I love their wacky episodes and it’s certainly an inspiration in terms of how much you can do when you are self-taught and armed with imagination to make something experimental at home. Check out their videos!

Expert Village
This is a site that has a lot of instructional videos. I learned how to build simple puppets from this video. I do it somewhat differently (for example, I do not use rubber cement and I do not use foam) but I build puppets using methods that are variations of these videos. There’s also a good summary on puppeteering basics. Both sets of videos are done by puppeteer Paul Louis.

Puppetbuilding Dot Com
As the name suggests, this is a site about puppet building. The show covers a lot of puppet building techniques and tutorials written by puppet builders. A lot of these refer to more professional puppet building than the stuff I do. For example, some of them use different types of foam that’s only sold in large quantities and I simply don’t have access to them and won’t bother. The concepts are still worth checking out though, even if I don’t use the same materials.

There are other links to sites that are worth checking out but aren’t directly related to puppetry. Check out the links page for more!

Episode 3 – Crazy Names

Episode 3 is here! This week, we are answering questions sent in by YouTube user SendTrash and viewer Julia. They asked where Mac and Cheese and Bottle Monster got their crazy names. Mac and Cheese gave a brief explanation while Bottle Monster told his story via another dramatization. Watch to find out where they got their names!

If you can’t see the embedded video,
Click here to watch it on YouTube.
Or download Quicktime movies here:
m4v format (35MB)
mov format (12MB)

I am really proud of the editing I did for this episode to get two characters into the same shot. In this video you can actually see three different techniques to put two characters into the same frame although there’s only one puppeteer:
1. Putting one puppet in each hand.
2. Using a green screen.
3. Accomplishing split screen effect using a matte.

I’ll probably talk about the editing later, but for now, enjoy the show and keep writing in!

PS. Did you know that we are on iTunes? Go to the iTunes store and search “Puppet Kaos” to find us!

Editing Trick: Clipping

I tend to use a bunch of editing tricks on my videos. Sometimes it’s to make the videos look better, and sometimes (a lot of times) it’s to fix bad footages. In puppet shows, we use the edge of the screen a lot. Sometimes we accidentally include something on the edge that we really shouldn’t have (like puppeteer’s hands) but didn’t notice it while we are filming, for one reason or another. Here’s a technique to help you get rid of those unwanted things on the edges.

I use Adobe Premiere Pro. If you use other software, you can probably figure out how to do the same thing in whatever program you use.

Let’s start with this video. Noticed the yellow/white-ish thing on the upper left hand corner that’s not covered by the green backdrop? Yep, that’s the thing we are trying to get rid of:

What we now want to do is open the Effect window. Under video effects => Transform, find “Clip”:

Next step would be to drag it into the Effect Controls Window. You will then see “Clip” under “Video Effects”. Since we are trying to cut out a few pixels at the top to create a letter box effect, change the value of “Clip Top” from 0 to 3 (or whatever value necessary to cover up what you want).

And then last, adjust the “Clip Bottom” property to match “Clip Top” so the letterboxing looks balanced.
Clipping 4: matching the bottom

So that’s how you do clipping. Notice that this works for Episode 1: Making a Podcast because that episode just has one shot throughout. This technique will not work if you have multiple shots that need to work together, which is why in Episode 2: iBottle I used a technique called cropping instead of clipping. We’ll talk about that one soon. :-)

PS. By the way, Episode 3 will be released this Wednesday. Check back soon. 😉

Episode 2 – iBottle

Episode 2 is here! This week, we are answering a question sent in by Captain Jack about whether pirates should get the new iPhone or not. Mac and Cheese and Bottle Monster suggests getting the iBottle instead.

Or download Quicktime movies here:
m4v format (41MB)
mov format (14MB)

The editing for this video is, obviously, a lot more complicated than the previous episode. In addition to the multiple cuts (as opposed to the one shot throughout method), I also used a lot of cropping and stretching to fix bad footages (which cannot really be seen since I already fixed them but I will write about them later). And there are more sound effects used. I even recorded a lil bit of music myself. Anyway, have fun watching the episode. Write to with questions for the puppets to answer!

New episode coming soon~

Just a few brief announcements:

– Episode 2 will be released on Wednesday
– Future posts includes puppet making tutorials, editing tricks, bloopers, etc.

Come back soon!

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