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

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Ah, I love Christmas. I like Christmas music. They make me feel happy. I like Christmas decorations. They are festive. I like Christmas specials – mostly the classics like the Charlie Brown one, Rudolph, Frosty and all that old stuff. It’s nice to see all these whimsical things.

I’ve been home with family, and away from my video making equipments. I had a few things written and some voice recorded, but I didn’t have enough time to actually throw together a Christmas video. Maybe I’ll finish it up in January but that’s kind of lame. Or maybe I can save it for next year? We’ll see what happens.

For now, here’s a little video I made last year titled “All I Want for Christmas is U”.

Been Busy

Some of you know that I work as a mobile game developer / computer programmer as my day job. I usually would like to put my job title as “bounty hunter” though, because that’s what we do… We are informed by our clients about which bugs to track down. We hunt down the bugs, kill them and then collect bounty. Yep, that’s what we do.

Anyway, we’ve been assigned all the things we need to finish by the end of 2007, so basically, the sooner we finish all the work, the sooner we go into vacation mode. And if we don’t get it done by Christmas, we might end up doing some work over the “break”. So yeah, recently I’ve been pretty busy and spend most of my days (the parts in which I am awake, anyway) working. Hence the lack of episodes lately. One has been written though. It’s tentatively called “tofu” and it’s about tofu. I haven’t had time to actually shoot the video. Nowadays, I always have a lot of random ideas in my head but I don’t necessarily have time to produce the video shorts every week. But yeah, I really want to finish this episode by Christmas. We’ll see if that happens.

Ah, busy busy. Wouldn’t it be nice if I am get to make puppet shows full time? :-)

Sesame Street videos online

Sesame Workshop has recently put a lot of Sesame Street videos online. I’ve been spending a lot of time watching these videos. It’s nice that they are all in one place so I don’t have to look around for them. I am watching mostly Cookie Monster videos. I did not know there’s this version of C is for Cookies. But I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise. There’s also Cookie introducing each of the 26 letters. And all the Monsterpiece Theatre clips. How I love that silliness. You can watch Cookie Monster eat cookies, pipes, a house, and other miscellaneous things. Ah, I wish the new Sesame Street still has that much Cookie Monster. Elmo is so over-rated. Cookie Monster is awesome because he eats everything with such passion. You’ve got to love that.

You can use the tags as well as the search box to find the videos you want to watch. You can also click on the characters’ pictures on top and all the videos with those characters will come up. These are probably mostly older clips. For example, when I searched Abby Cadabby, nothing came up. Anyway, I think it’s awesome for them to have all these videos up. On a somewhat related topic, I also think it’s smart for networks to stream some of their shows online. They get to have a say in how their contents are distributed and draw people to their websites. It’s a good thing.

I am off to watch more Cookie Monster… and sometimes other characters too. :-)

Via PuppetVision.

Case Study: Putting a Character into a Car with Green Screen and Garbage Matte Effects

We now know how to do the green screen effect and garbage matte effect; it’s time to combine them. Here’s how I put Moostifer into a car in Episode 12: Daylight Saving. Again, I used Adobe Premiere Pro but you don’t have to for this to work. This is the final result we want:

First we need the raw footages. The first picture is the car. It’s a still picture, not a video. The second picture is a video that we filmed in front of a green background for green screen effect.

Now, resize both images so the sizes match up. And then remove the green background using green screen effect. Notice that there are some green parts on the corner that we didn’t do a good job removing. Also Moostifer is sort of hanging in the air because the bottom of the video is lower than the driver’s window frame. That’s fine because we’ll soon use a garbage matte to fix it.

Now, apply the garbage matte. When you draw the matte, make sure this shape is approximately the shape of the car window. This will create an illusion that Moostifer is actually sitting in the car, because he is being blocked by the windshield, the car door, etc.

And that’s pretty much it. Moostifer is now sitting in the car! Now just a little bit of fine-tuning: I adjusted the colors a little bit to add a red tint to match our background graphic. I also adjusted the brightness of the picture to make the character darker since this is supposed to be a night shot. And here’s, again, the final result:

And there you have it!

(Of course, you can always get the puppet into a real car and then film it. I didn’t feel like going through the trouble of finding a location for just one shot though.

Related Posts:
Editing Trick: Garbage Matte
How to do a green screen effect: the theory
How to do a green screen effect: a case study
Episode 12: Daylight Saving

Editing Trick: Garbage Matte

What is a “garbage matte”? According to the all-knowing Wikipedia:

A “garbage matte” is often hand-drawn, sometimes very quickly made, and can be used to exclude parts of an image that another process, such as bluescreen, would not remove. The name stems from the fact that the matte removes “garbage” from the procedurally produced image. This “garbage” might include a rig that is holding a model or the lighting grid above the top edge of the bluescreen. Garbage mattes can also be used to include parts of the image that might otherwise have been removed by the bluescreen, such as too much blue reflecting on a shiny model (“blue spill”).

In this case, we start out with this raw footage, designed to be a green screen shot:

It is filmed in front of a green background so we can apply the green screen effect to replace the background:

Notice that on the left edge, there’s a little bit of green that wasn’t removed very well. And then there’s that black thing on the lower righthand corner…. that would be my head (more about my head later… or not). Those are the two things that we do not want to see in the video.

So what do we do? Garbage matte comes to rescue!

With garbage matte, we can define an area that we want to keep in the final picture and leave out the rest. In Adobe Premiere Pro, this is done by first finding the garbage matte effect under Video Effects => Keying, and drag it into the Effect Controls Window:

And then in the Effects Controls Window, you can start changing the coordinates of each of the four corners that defines that garbage matte region:

And if you had “Garbage Matte” selected (highlighted), you can just drag the four corners to define the desired region. Now we see Bobby, who’s within the trapezoid-shape region we defined, and we no longer see the two things we were trying to remove!

Garbage mattes have other uses too. For example, in Episode 12: Daylight Saving, I used the trick to put Moostifer into a car. More about that later…

Related Posts:
How to do a green screen effect: the theory
How to do a green screen effect: a case study
Episode 12: Daylight Saving

Deviating from Schedule…

Hi guys. I am going to deviate from my original set schedule of releasing an episode every Wednesday. What I realized is that sometimes I am trying to rush things out by Wednesday night and I end up dropping certain shots that’s harder to do. And sometimes I have an episode idea queued up just because I can’t possibly finish everything within a week. (And by a week I mean one or two nights… what? You don’t expect me to work on these videos every night, right? Nobody is paying me to do this full time. :-P)

So yeah, I will keep on releasing new episodes, but not at such regular intervals. Having a deadline has its benefits though. It really keeps me thinking about possible sketch ideas all the time so a lot of ideas come to me nowadays. (They are not always good ideas but some of them are.) So since I already have that going, having a strict deadline becomes less important.

Thanks again for supporting this podcast. Oh, did I mention that there won’t be an episode tonight? :-p

PS. I am thinking the next episode would be tofu-related.

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