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

The Full Band in Start A Band Video

In the Start A Band music video, I have this shot where the full band of five puppets are playing together:


But did you know this is done by just one puppeteer (me)? How is this done?

The short answer: Film all five puppets seperately in front of a green screen and composite them together.

The long answer: It’s possible to just film all five puppets together in one take, instead having one puppeteer do it five different times. However, to do that, I would need five puppeteers, and also a really long green backdrop which I currently don’t have. That’s why I decided to do it this way. Theoretically, you can apply green screen effects an infinite number of times, because the green parts are going to become transparent in post-production, and you can layer them however many times you want.

The order is important, however, because whichever footage that’s on the top layer will be the one in the front in the final video. And that’s why the background should always be in the lowest layer, as shown in this picture:


From the top to bottom layer, we have footages brad play 2.avi, bot play.avi, mac play.avi, bobby play.avi, moost play.avi, and home2.bmp. So in this shot, you see Bread Parsley (the human puppet) in the front, and then Bottle Monster, Mac and Cheese, Bobby, Moostifer, and then the background in the very back. (Some of them don’t overlap each other, such as Bobby and Moostifer, so the order of those two doesn’t matter. However, if two characters overlap, such as Bottle Monster and Bobby, we need to have Bottle Monster’s footage in a video layer above Bobby’s to make sure that Bottle Monster will be appear in front of Bobby.) This screen cap, in which the green screen effeect is turned off, is used to show you that the five characters are from five different video footages and also to show you how they overlap:


The green in the background is of irregular shapes, because I also used a garbage matte effect to cut out the unnecessary parts from the footage to make my green screen job easier. Without the garbage matte and green screen, this is what the original footage would look like after being shrunken to the sizes I want and layered on top of one another. Notice that you pretty much only see the character in the very top layer.


Is it a lot of work? Yes. Do I like the end result? You betcha!

Related Posts:
Start A Band Music Video
How to do a green screen effect
How to do a garbage matte effect


  1. April 19th, 2009 | 2:59 pm

    What a great idea! It reminds me of how musicians (like Moby) lay down track after track until they have the whole thing…done by them alone.

  2. April 19th, 2009 | 10:05 pm

    Oh yeah, that’s definitely one way of doing it. I have also read some musicians prefer to have everyone rehearse (if not record) their parts together because they think the music will come together more. They actually dislike that track by track approach. I guess it’s a matter of preference and has their own pros and cons.

    As for this, actually, if technical aspect isn’t an issue (like if I am part of a big TV production that provides me with all the appropriate lights and sets), I actually might prefer having all the characters perform at the same time. This way they can have better interactions with one another. I mean, it’s fun to see band members interact too, isn’t it?

    Different approaches definitely produce different flavors!

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