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

It’s a California Christmas

I’ve made Christmas videos the past three years. Guess what? Here’s the 2015 video, making it four years in a row!

This one was… quite a lot of work. It was also the first of many things for me. It was:

1) The first of my Christmas video where, in addition to the lyrics, I also wrote the music myself!
2) The first time using a keyboard controller in Garageband to arrange and record music.
3) The first time using a sketching app on the iPad to draw all the backgrounds instead of building them out of construction paper.
4) The first time to include an animated character.
5) The first time to use swipes, and lots of them, because, you know, Star Wars is on my mind.
6) The first time to have (fake) camera panning instead of cutting back and forth.

I have a lot of fun bringing these projects from just an idea in my head to a complete video. I enjoy having a chance to delight friends with a video around Christmas. And some even told me that it’s become something that they look forward to each year. I am glad this annual project is still continuing! 😀

Oh, Christmas Tree! Merry Christmas!

So, here you go. This is the Christmas video for this year.

Sure, I didn’t finish it until an hour before actual Christmas (in California, anyway), but hey, it’s done. I guess having done it two years in a row encourages me to keep the tradition going.

Enjoy! Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas! Deck the Halls!

Been a while since I posted anything. But hey look, a new Christmas video!

Last year’s Christmas video was pretty well received among my friends, so I’ve decided to make another one. Enjoy!

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Bottle Monster Unboxes an iPad

I got an iPad.

I bought it either because I had fun trying one at Best Buy, or because I am an iPhone app developer and need one for work purposes. It was probably a little of both, but anyway, I ordered one and got it in the mail last week. So, I proceeded to open it. But after I opened the outside packaging, I thought, wait, I should make one of those unboxing videos, like what you see many people unboxing the iPhone, XBox, Wii, etc. on Youtube. But my will have a puppet in it, of course! So here we go:

About the device

So, did I like the iPad? Yes, I love it. Even though so far I’ve mostly just used it to browse the web and watch videos (something that I normally do on my computer), somehow using a touch screen to do so is quite an enjoyable experience for me. The battery life is excellent. I got it on Monday and did not charge it at all until Thursday night. Of course, when I was watching videos instead of just browsing the web, the batteries would not last as long, but I could still go without charging it for the whole day. Compared this to my laptop that would only last less than two hours or so, that was pretty good and freed me from being close to an outlet. Also, it stays cool instead of heating up like my laptop, so I appreciate that as well. It is a little heavier than I thought, but is still significantly lighter than my laptop. Therefore I prefer using the iPad when I am in a situation in which I don’t have a desk in front of me.

Now, the downside. There is no multi-tasking so I will need to quit one app if I want to start another app. However, if the app is well designed, it will save its state before it exits so you can resume from where you left off. I mostly just use the web browser anyway. It just means that I won’t be checking my IM or Twitter all the time. I guess it also make you focus more on one thing instead of going back and forth. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a different mentality. Also it doesn’t support Flash. It means I will have to wait till I get back on a regular computer if I really want to see that content. As a computer programmer, I believe it’s a good trade-off. It makes the whole device more stable and keeps the battery from draining. The Youtube videos still work anyway, because they have their own dedicated app, and have recently switched to HTML5 for the mobile version, which is supported on iOS devices anyway.

So, overall, it’s pretty nice, but is still a luxury item, in my opinion. At this point, it cannot completely replace your regular computer, but maybe it was not meant to anyway.

About the video

I actually already cut the outside FedEx box open before I made the video, so I just taped it back. My camera isn’t high def, so you can’t tell anyway unless I tell you, which I just did. What you might be able to tell, if you are really observant, is that some parts of the video are fast-forwarded because the puppet hands are really clumsy at doing things. To remove the plastic from the box, I had already cut a slit on the back (hidden from view) so it’s easier to tear. I actually struggled to remove the plastic from the actual iPad, so you saw me bring it to the side of the screen. What I was actually doing was taking one hand out of the puppet so I could actually peel it. Of course, this was fast-forwarded because it took me a while. (I think that particular part was playing at 13x normal speed.) For the introduction where I had the puppet talking, I actually did several takes, but for the actual unboxing, I knew that I could only do one take (or make it an excuse to buy another one? Hm). That was interesting in trying to get everything right in one try.

New Video! (With New Puppets!)

And… here’s the new video! I built four new puppets for this project, so together with the old ones, there are 8 total in this video. This is a music video that I made in January to enter the Brad Paisley’s “Start A Band” green screen contest (which I didn’t win, but whatever, enjoy! :-) )

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here to see it on YouTube.

The premise of the contest was that they provided the green screen footages of Brad Paisley singing the song, and you can use the footages in your video any way you like. I was glad that I participated, because I’ve always wanted to try these things:

  1. make a music video
  2. purchase and learn to use a sewing machine
  3. build more new puppets
  4. build puppets that are humans (as opposed to “monsters” and animals)
  5. build puppets that have shoulders made out of foam and cloth them
  6. build puppets with hair made out of yarn
  7. try out new lighting set-up
  8. enter a contest
  9. overlay several different green screen shots

And somehow making this video has all those elements! Of course, that’s also because I consciously attempt to try out a new technique every time I make a new video, but so many of them at once? That hasn’t happened before. So yeah, it was definitely a good experience. And I hope you all have as much fun watching it as I have making it!

Episode 17 – Chet for President

In this episode, Bottle Monster can not decide between Barack Obama and John McCain. And that’s when he discovers another candidate – Chet.

If you can’t see the embedded video,
Click here to watch Chet for President on Youtube.
Or download Quicktime movies here:
m4v format (29MB)
mov format (10MB)

Now, why would I release a video on election day when everyone is watching news coverage of the election turn-out? Good question, I don’t intend to answer it.

Is Chet a character that I’ve recently created? The answer is no. Chet and these other characters in the Chet 2008 campaign ad are part of the Bubbleboy Films, which is another online series of puppet videos. It’s created by Paul Hokanson and is my favorite online puppet series at the moment. I’m a big fan, so thank you, Paul, for letting me use your footages. To see more of Chet and his friends, check out Bubbleboy Films. I’ll probably write more about it later.

Update: Yes, I just voted.

The background music is Eternal Hope by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

Previous episodes:
Episode 16: Insomnia
Episode 15: Godfather Nightmares
Episode 14: Tofu

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