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November « 2009 « 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

Sesame Street Characters Interviewed on Rocketboom

nomnomCookie Monster, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby were interviewed on Rocketboom. Some readers of this blog already know that my favorite Sesame Street character is Cookie Monster, because he eats with such passion. While I am not going to eat like that, his passion is still quite inspiring. In this interview, I learned that the term “nom nom nom” that people had been using on the internet to express their desire for something yummy (literally or metaphorically) came from the noises Cookie Monster makes when he eats. How cool is that? Got to love Cookie Monster.

Some people said that they think it’s great that Cookie Monster is now teaching children to not just eat cookies all the time and that a cookie is a sometimes food. He is telling viewers that it’s good to have a balanced diet with lots of veggies and fruits. On the rational level, I can understand that. I guess, as part of the cast of an educational program on PBS, he has a responsibility to say those things, but it just seems totally out of character to me. It’s like making a movie about how Jesse James sits down with his enemies to talk about their differences peacefully, sort things out and make out with one another. It might be sending a good message about peace and talk, but that’s simply not what Jesse James would do.

Enough of my rant. Enjoy the interviews here:
http://www.rocketboom.com/sesame-street-cookie-monster/

Puppetry Classes

TV Puppetry Workshop With Michael Earl (U.S.)

Date: Six Saturday mornings starting November 14, 2009
Location: Los Angeles, California (More specifically, Sherman Oaks, which is right next to North Hollywood)

This is the class that I’ve been writing about for the last few weeks. Michael Earl is an Emmy-award winning puppeteer/writer that had worked on Muppets, Sesame Street and numerous other projects. He has been puppeteering for 31 years now, and of course, that’s lots of experience and knowledge on this topic. The beginning class will run for six Saturday mornings starting November 14th (this weekend). The class is for Muppet-type puppets. You will be taught to perform for the camera, while the monitors give you instant feedback on what the performance looks like. You will first learn the basics, like how to stand straight and how to walk. You will be taught different exercices for different aspects of the performance. You will lip-sync and dance to songs. And you will also do some improv. Very fun class. Everyone learned a lot. If you are interested in puppetry and are in the area, I highly recommend this class. For more information, check out the website at http://www.puppetschool.com.

P.S. In addition to the Los Angeles workshops, Michael Earl will also be doing a whole-day workshop (10am-5pm) on January 8, 2010 in New York City. Info about that workshop is on his website as well.

Puppet-Building with Naomi Guss (Australia)

Date: Six Saturdays starting January 23, 2010
Location: Melbourne, Victoria (More specifically, Northcote)

Want to learn how to build a puppet? Puppet builder Naomi Guss of Puppets in Melbourne will be teaching a puppet-building class in January and February of next year. You will learn to make the head and body (out of foam), cover it (making the skin) and dress it. You will also get your own copy of the pattern. And of course, at the end you can all play with your puppets. This is a class that I would’ve signed up for if I were in the area (but as you can probably tell, I am in Los Angeles), but if you are in that area and interested in puppet-building, take a look at the info on the website regarding the class. Check out http://www.schoolofpuppetry.com.au

TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 4

Ah, the fourth (and final) week of the intermediate class… and the tenth week overall if you count the beginning class too. It was also the most tiring class of all these weeks. Let me explain.

This week we were not only going to film our performances on camera, we would also be given the DVDs of the recordings at the end of the class. We’ve been taping our practices and playing them back for commenting, but those were not kept after we watched them. This time the video footages would be saved and given to us, either to study, to use for our reels, to satisfy future nostalgia, or to watch for the heck of it. This was the time that we were trying our best not to screw up.

I never knew that trying not to screw up would be so tiring.

Normally we would try to get our heads out of the shot as much as possible, but it was only practice so we didn’t care as much if we see a head or two every now and then. However, this time we were all consciously trying to have no heads at all. Also, in the past three weeks we were still tweaking the choreography, but this week, we wanted everything to be perfect since it would be filmed (and there’s no next week!).

Watching out for everything all the time was very tiring. I certainly sweat a lot more than the previous weeks and I was sure that was the case for my classmates too cuz we asked for more breaks to get water than usual. Also, normally we would get more breaks while the teacher demonstrated things, or pause to discuss choreography. This week we basically already had all the choreography down, so we just kept doing it, doing it, and doing it, over and over, for all the songs. We only had three students in this class so we were always on camera with nobody sitting out. It was quite a workout.

We ended up having several takes of each song. The instructor said usually the first take had something magical, the second-to-last take would be the best one and the last take would not be as good cuz you would be getting tired. You know what? I agree. So, at the end we all got our DVDs. I think I’ll share some of the videos once I got my video editing stuff set up. I am having a bit of a sound issue at the moment.

Ah, the class was over. It was lots of fun and we all learned a lot. What’s next? Well, I got my Saturday mornings back (for sleeping). That’s a good thing too! I’ll definitely recommend this class to anyone interested in TV puppetry. :-)

TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 3
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 3
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 4
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 5,6

TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 3

For the first time in nine weeks, I can say that I didn’t really learn anything new. Of course, it wasn’t to say that the three hours were wasted. We still got some good practice in, and kept improving on what we already knew. It was more like polishing stuff than making things from scratch. At this point, we are about to wrap up what we have learned. Although this class was relatively short (only four weeks), if you add up both the beginning and intermediate classes, that would be ten weeks total. My courses back in my college days were ten weeks long too, so I am pretty used to this pace.

Next week will be the final class. We are going to tape some of the things we do, and each student will get a copy of the DVD. Something we’ve been working on throughout this intermediate level course are our own routines/choreography. In our first class, we each picked a song. The person would be the lead singer in that one and the two other people would be the back-up singers in the background. We were working on these things throughout the course, so by this past weekend we pretty much already had all three routines down. We were just working on little details and they were really coming together. And we’ll be filming the final product this weekend. Sure there is no final exam, but this feels like the big project, big paper, or big presentation at the end of the school year. It even feels like a little showcase / recital even though there’s no live audience besides the teacher. I am looking forward to it. I think we would feel like we’ve accomplished something.

This also feels like getting ready for a show. Right before you get on the stage, you have that rush and anticipation. Speaking of which, LCC Theatre Company, the college group that I was an alumnus of, will be putting on a show next Tuesday. Check the website for more details if you are interested.

Also, if you are in the Los Angeles area and interested in taking this course, Michael Earl will be teaching the beginning level class again starting November 4. It will be six Saturday mornings, just like the one I took. Also he will be teaching a one-day intensive workshop in New York in January. If you are interested, check out more details on his website. I highly recommend it!

Related Posts:
TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 3
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 4
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 5,6

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