Love Sucks - Vorwerk

I was the puppeteer on this great little advert from Smuggler for Vorwerk. The robot was built by Chris Lloyd.


Am Mosleh - Tales of Uncle Mosleh - حكايات العم مصلح

Am Mosleh - حكايات العم مصلح - Puppeteer Tony Sinnett

Am Mosleh - حكايات العم مصلح - Puppeteer Tony Sinnett

I was lead puppeteer and puppetwrangler on a new show produced by Baraem a part of Al Jazeera Childrens Channel . The show entitled  حكايات العم مصلح or 'Am Mosleh'  (Tales of Uncle Mosleh) was to be the first string puppet show produced by the Channel.

I was lead puppeteer but also spent a lot of time trying to get the most out of the rather basic puppets. I repaired, adjusted, restrung and repainted all of the marionettes at one point or another.

The show is about an old carpenter – Am Mosleh who works with a group of puppets to narrate captivating stories and tales from all over the world. The stories acted out by the marionettes are variations on classic folk tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood and Aladdin.

Marionette Skeleton Johnston for Paul Foot - Comedian

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In May Mr Paul Foot contacted me to discuss making a marionette for his next show - 'words'. He wanted me to build a puppet of the character 'Skeleton Johnston' and he wanted it to be as large as possible so it could be easily seen in the larger venues.

We discussed the best way to achieve this given that it would have to be sturdy enough to withstand travel around the country (and possibly abroad) without damage. It also couldn't be so big it was difficult to operate as you don't really want to have your arms at more than a 90 degree angle for long periods of time holding a larger marionette. The weight was also going to be a very key factor.


Carved Head of Skeleton Johnston

In the end we decided that the best option for durability - and ease of repair if it came to that - would be wood. I would have to make all parts as light as possible though given the size so this would mean hollowing out the head and ribs and thinning the arms and legs as much as I could.



The character would stand around 90cms tall (not including hair) and this would mean the controller would be just over a metre from the ground which worked out about right for Paul's height. So after a scale and then a full size drawing I started the carving. I made the skull first and was quite happy with how it turned out.

Hair structure with expanding foam

Hair structure with expanding foam

Next onto his hair, I figured the best way to create his crazy ice cream scoop style was with some hard foam unfortunately I had run out - as had my local store - and as this was an urgent project I wondered about using some expanding builders foam which I had on the shelf. First I inserted a long screw through the top of the head to give the foam something to bind to, then I squirted a good dollop onto his head. After letting it dry for a couple of hours I cut it with a hacksaw blade. It ended up with quite a few air holes in it so I wrapped the shape in masking tape, made a couple of small holes and squirted a good amount in again.

This seemed to work, filling all the voids and making a nice tight foam.  A little final trimming and it was read for the cotton hair to be stuck on the shape.

Skeleton Johnston - Carved ribs, arms and hands

Skeleton Johnston - Carved ribs, arms and hands



I created the ribs in two halves and hollowed the middle. Arms and hands were also carved from Limewood as were his shoes. I used some Idigbo for the legs and pelvis as this is quite a light weight wood but still sturdy. The legs were not shaped other than a little bit at the ankles, just in case his trousers were to ride up. I used 3mm rod for all metal joints and some elastic at the shoulders.

Skeleton Johnston at home

Once i'd made his trousers and braces, all that was left was the control. As you can see its a simplified rocker bar operating the legs, there is a wire through the top of the head for support and control. The jaw string can be operated with one finger on the holding hand.

The operation of the marionette is quite simple but even so can give a lot of movement and expression.

I delivered Mr Johnston to his new friend Paul Foot and spent the afternoon showing him the movements and giving a few puppetry tips. Paul was really quick in getting to grips with him and seemed happy that this would work really well in the specially created section of his new show.
 

 

 

 

Here is Paul Foot with Skeleton Johnston.

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Mike Marlin - The Murderer

Here is the video for Mike Marlin's song 'The Murderer'. It features my acting debut as the puppetmaker, not sure I'll be up for a BAFTA any time soon but it was a bit of fun. I also supplied a lot of the puppets and set dressing, with other props and puppets coming from The Little Angel Theatre and puppeteer Jessica Kay (http://www.jkpuppets.com/) Puppetry was mainly by Jessica as a lot of the time I was in shot or in make-up but I did do a few bits and pieces. You should be able to spot 'Paul' making an appearance.

The video was produced by Valeria Meng and Roman Knipping-Sorokin (http://www.eyesonthewall.net/)

 

Goodnight Lenin - Wenceslas Square

I was commissioned to build the two marionettes for this music video puppet love story. The characters were designed by Chris and Steven and I advised them on the sizing and jointing. To fit the small theatre set that had been envisioned we decided to make the marionettes as small as possible. The finished size was 32 cms in all with a large proportion of that being the heads which were more oversized than normal. 

The marionettes were made entirely from wood which was carved by hand and then sanded to get a smooth finish. They had joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, abdomen, hips, knees and ankles (boy only).

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The small scale made the joints and movements tricky, for the girl character in particular her lower limbs had such negligible weight that gravity wasn’t enough to overcome any slight binding of the joints and I had to add little lead inserts to her arms just to get some feedback when puppeteering.  


Stephen had decided that he wanted moving and blinking eyes and moving mouths but he knew that not only would this be expensive it would make the marionettes more difficult to operate. Being a animator and director he wanted to try a new technique of using CGI to overlay the eyes in post. To achieve this I had to shape the heads and eyes to which we would later fit tracking markers. 

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The shoot itself was done over two days at Second Home Studios in Birmingham, owned by Chris Randall.

I performed all the puppetry on the shoot and also instructed the band in how to use them for the close up shots of them with the controllers.


The video for the song is a love story of two marionettes trying to find each other. It’s always tricky to convey a story in such a short space of time and without words but I think it worked and all the effort put in by everyone shines through. 

Kirsty Almeida - 'Spider' - Video

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I constructed the skeleton puppets and oversaw the stringing of the spider.

The puppetry was mostly done on chromakey. I partnered with Sara Kirkpatrick for the puppetry on the shoot.

 

Puppets and puppetry by Tony Sinnett.