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October « 2007 « Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories
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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Episode 11 – The Truth Behind Halloween

Episode 11 is here! This week, Mac and Cheese and Bottle Monster investigate why people go trick-or-treating for candy on Halloween on Puppet Kaos’ own newsmagazine 50/50. Do ghosts even like candy? Don’t vampires want blood instead? Does this tradition even make any sense? Let Puppet Kaos tell you the truth behind Halloween!

If you can’t see the embedded video,
Click here to watch it on YouTube.
Or download Quicktime movies here:
m4v format (80MB)
mov format (31MB)

The music is News Sting by Kevin MacLeod. It’s licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

And this video used lots of graphics generously licensed by their original authors through Creative Commons licenses. There are so many that they deserve their own table:

Graphic Usage Author License

colourscapebg3.jpg
50/50 background Jonny Baker CC Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

My First Jack-o’-Lantern With Ian
Truth Behind Halloween title picture Tze-Her Su CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

Machampane Wilderness Camp
Moostifer walking background 1 Ralph Pina CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

San Gorgonio Wilderness
Moostifer walking background 2 Randy McEoin CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

desert view
Bobby walking background 2 Jon Sullivan CC Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

A Picture Share!
Loose tooth picture Jenny Levine CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

At the Dentist
Dentist picture Seth Werkheiser CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

#4 – The Tooth Fairy
Tooth fairy picture Kaptain Kobold CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

I just got my new green screen from my friend Fiona, because my apartment-mate lost the mailbox key so I had to mail the greenscreen to a friend who lives nearby when I ordered it. Thanks, Fiona. I’ve been using the new greenscreen backdrop in this episode. I’m still getting used to it. Some of the focus and lighting conditions were not ideal since I’m still experimenting, but it does give me more freedom simply because it’s bigger than my good old green piece of paper.

Creative Commons License

Halloween-y theme

I just realized that the color scheme of my blog is already very Halloween-y even without extra decorations!

Hm, maybe I’d decorate it a lil bit if I have time. (That kinda depends on when I finish making this week’s episode though.)

What inspired me to write each episode (6-10)

Here’s a summary of what inspired each episode. It can get quite long so I’m breaking them into two posts. The first part is here.

Episode 6: Dance, Dance, Dance
What inspired this episode? Well, I thought it would be fun to have the puppets dancing. It was nice that I didn’t have to write lines, but it’s also very time-consuming to edit. But it was entertaining to watch nevertheless.

Episode 7: Big Dipper
This was inspired by this little tutorial on how to identify stars and constellations in the night sky. It was fun for me, and I thought, what if I do an episode about the night sky? After some brainstorming, I decided that it’d be fun to bring back Bottle Monster’s mom, Mr. Robottle and iBottle. It was tedious to dig out all footages but for me, the callback is worth it.

Obscure UCLA Facts You Didn’t Know
When Rick email me and told me that he liked my videos, I was pretty happy because I’ve always been a fan of his performances and humor. So I started to drag him into brainstorming with me, hehe. And this was around the time that school was about to start so we thought it’d be interesting to do a video on it. This was the episode that’s not really written. We just improvise things on the spot because improvising is actually very natural to us.

Episode 8: Nobody’s Watching
When I was meeting with Rick we came up with a few ideas for upcoming episodes and some of them don’t work that well with the question-and-answer format. I knew at some point, we’d be changing it up a little bit, so this episode is sort of setting that up. And this is another one of those “if you don’t know what to write, then write about not knowing what to write” cases. This is also kind of similar to the first episode where I just make puppets do what I do as a writer with the brainstorming… except that they have the luxury of dramatizations and I can only write on a piece of paper. Also I thought it would be fun to do one of those previews because it’s fall and every channel is doing it for the new season. And it would be fun to do one of those trailers with that deep announcer voice.

Episode 9: WordCraft
This post is inspired by the word “lexicon”. I have no idea why I was talking about that word at work with my co-workers, but I was saying that lexicon is a convention for Lexus cars. It was quite a stretch, but then I thought, hey, maybe I can come up with more words like these. So I came up with a bunch. This was also the first episode with materials written by Rick.

Episode 10: Silent Sneeze
I thought it would be fun to do a silent episode. It would be awesome because it’s a new genre to try and I like trying out new things. Also, I figured that I wouldn’t need to write that many lines so I can have the same length episode while not writing that many lines. It turned out to be a lot of work though, because you have to time the lines and actions to the music, and the motions have to be designed better since there’s no sound involved and there’s a delay in when the captions actually show what they are saying. It’s a very good learning experience though. I had to give Bottle Monster an excuse to not be able to sneeze. First I decided that he cheered for his team too hard so he lost his voice (this was around the time for Major League Baseball postseasons), but later I thought, sneezing would be a more interesting excuse and I can involve the fact that Bottle Monster doesn’t have a nose. It was partially inspired by the “Where is my Hairbrush” song from Vegetales that someone once sent me.

Edit: You know, I wrote this post last night and didn’t bother to read it over until today. What I realized is that I give “would be fun” as the reason for writing the story for most (if not all) of the episodes. I guess that’s what it is. It has to be a fun idea for you. That’s how you write, especially with comedy.

Related post:
What inspired me to write each episode (6-10)
Episode 6: Dance, Dance, Dance
Episode 7: Big Dipper
Obscure UCLA Facts You Didn’t Know
Episode 8: Nobody’s Watching
Episode 9: WordCraft
Episode 10: Silent Sneeze

What inspired me to write each episode (1-5)

We’ve reached episode 10! Ten is not that big of a number, but hey, it’s a milestone. Some of you (or maybe most of you) have wondered how I come up with these ideas for the episodes… well, maybe you can get some clues from this post but in general, a good thing to keep in mind, is: If somebody said “dude, it’d be so funny if so and so happens” or you have an idea that goes “hm, I wonder what it would be like if … so on so forth”, don’t just let it slip away. If you think about it some more, it just might develop into a story!

Here’s a summary of what inspired each episode. It can get quite long so I’m breaking them into two posts.

Episode 1: Making a Podcast
Well, this episode is really a set-up for the rest of the episodes. The purpose was to introduce the characters: Mac and Cheese who is the one that’s interested in putting together a podcast, and Bottle Monster who is the one that comes up with different ideas. Mac and Cheese is the sane guy that’s in charge of running the show smoothly, sort of a homage to how Kermit is the one holding the Muppets together, although it was not intentional. Bottle Monster is the whimsical one that has crazy ideas. To a degree, they are both my alter egos. :-) This episode also sets up the format for the subsequent episodes, which is them answering viewer’s questions.

Episode 2: iBottle
This is written when iPhone came out and created buzz everywhere. Now, Bottle Monster’s original character design was that he solves every problem involving bottles somehow, so that was written into the story here. Today’s technology seem to have a tendency to want to integrate everything into a small device, so I was thinking, what if you have this really simple piece of item that can be used for many purposes too? And so, iBottle was born.

Episode 3: Crazy Names
This is the first episode that’s based on a question sent in by a real viewer. Sometimes I use real letters and sometimes I just make them up… whichever is easier to make the episode entertaining. I know I’d talk about why they are named so at some point, and this was a good opportunity. Bottle Monster’s childhood story was inspired by a Japanese folklore Momotaro-san which involves an old couple that picked up a giant peach from the river, cut it open and found a baby inside, and raised the kid who eventually became a hero in Japan. In fact, the Momotaro-san song was actually one of the very first song that I learned how to sing. My grandma’s generation lived through a period where Taiwan was governed by Japan so she taught me some Japanese songs when I was little, but this was the only song I remembered. I can still sing that song today. Ah, she was such a loving person. :-)

Episode 4: Mr. Robottle
I drink a lot of water when I am at work. It not only keeps my hydrated, but also helps me think, so there are often quite a few empty bottles on my desk. One day I thought, hey, why don’t I build a robot out of the bottles? So I did. And then a few weeks later I thought, hey, I could use this guy in one of my episodes! And so it happened.

Episode 5: Amazing Grass
Bottle Monster, Bobby and Moostifer were originally built for the show The Elephant Room put on by LCC Theatre Company. I wrote a sketch called “Accent Elimination for Animals” and part of what Bobby Moostifer did in the sketch was singing to the tune of “Amazing Grace”. The lyrics go as follows: Amazing Grass, how sweet the lawn. It’s the food I like to chew…” When Myha wrote in a letter about losing weight, I thought it would be the perfect chance to introduce the two characters that like to talk about eating grass all the time. The original design was that they are the experts for everything that Mac and Cheese and Bottle Monster go to when they don’t know something, though that device is really not used that often. When you are writing episodes week after week, it’s easy to deviate from your original design, but hey, that’s also part of the fun!

Related posts:
What inspired me to write each episode (6-10)
Episode 1: Making a Podcast
Episode 2: iBottle
Episode 3: Crazy Names
Episode 4: Mr. Robottle
Episode 5: Amazing Grass

Episode 10 – Silent Sneeze

Episode 10 is here! This week, Bottle Monster keeps wanting to sneeze. Mac and Cheese, Bobby, and Moostifer try to help him find a cure through the power of… silent films.

If you can’t see the embedded video,
Click here to watch it on YouTube.
Or download Quicktime movies here:
m4v format (33MB)
mov format (11MB)

The music is Improbable by Kevin MacLeod. It’s licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

I considered using a sepia effect on the silent film part, but later decided against it. Also I tried rolling the credit for the first time instead of using still ones. It’s kinda cool. I discovered the rolling credit tool when I was editing. Otherwise I was considering possibly animating the rolling motion myself, but that proves to be unnecessary.

Oh yeah, and I was sneezing every now and then when I was making this film, but once I’m done, I stopped sneezing. Man, the human mind is powerful. Okay, maybe it’s just me.

Creative Commons License

The power of thoughts / mind / suggestion

Spoiler about the upcoming episode ahead.

I was writing a script about sneezing (and yes, that’s the next episode of Puppet Kaos), so I started reading about it. Of course, the first stop is Wikipedia. I read about it a little bit and then started reading other sites about sneezing too. And guess what, after reading for a lil bit, I let out a sneeze. Oh wow, I didn’t know you can do that!

The next morning, I was still sneezing. I know many actors can cry on cue, but hm, I wonder if anyone can actually sneeze on cue. Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe it was my mind. But start sneezing when I read about sneezing is just an interesting experience.

So, yeah, check back soon for the upcoming episode about sneezing!

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