Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day #61: Raccoon Prototype and Cool Torso/Spine Mechanism

A lot has happened in the studio today -- but it's a lot in the sense that you can look at an ocean and only see the top. Most of what we've been doing has been under the surface. Under the surface of the puppet, so to speak.

A fun character in this show is the raccoon. We need some very specific movements from this puppet. Well, OK, we need very specific movements from all of our puppets, but the raccoon is a standout sort of character. The raccoon needs to do a lot. Walk on all fours, stand upright, sniff, wiggle its backside, and swish its tail a bit, for starters. It might not seem like a lot, but we've been working on the torso of this puppet and have come up with an interesting way for it to function.

As with most of our prototypes, we use random stuff like cardboard, tape and plastic bottles.

I must give Melanie Johnson credit on this one -- she and I have been working on this concept together, but she is the one who has been doing the assembly work. (Thanks, Mel!)

I must also give credit to Rey Mehlhorn for working up so many great concept sketches!

Working on the raccoon...
First, the raccoon is a rod puppet. It will be operated by two puppeteers for part of the show, but can be operated by just one puppeteer for some segments. The "spine" of  puppet has a spring in the middle of a dowel rod. The puppeteer holds the dowel rod with the spring segment, giving the back and torso a great deal of articulation. It looks like we can also control the backside wiggle, too!

Hmmm...this is where I was going to insert the picture of the torso/spine mechanism...but it seems that ever-diligent Melanie has absconded with said puppet mechanism. I think she took it home to tweak it some more...and I guess I  will just be thankful she's doing that and post the picture in the space below when she brings it back!

[Insert Photo]

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