File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 103

To: <>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2008 20:13:42 +1000
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Principles of Puppetry

I think we are missing the point here....again...... Mathieu is asking us to 
nominate some principles that guide us in our craft, I think we call them 
conventions. Id like to jump on my high horse and say that Im not bound by 
principles and protocols but I am! So here are a few that I utilise...not 
because they bind me but because communication is founded on agreed 
principles or conventions and the audience has learnt culturally to 
recognise these semiotics so it actually frees me. . . . .
I always use blue light to represent night. Any one not? Its a readily 
accepted convention or principle.Why? Why does red mean stop, green mean go 
and blue mean night?
My "cute" characters have large eyes and small mouths.....nearly every 
culture observes that convention as well as round faces, large eyes and a 
big mouth means a gregarious character.......why?
My mean characters have thin lips, sharp noses and narrow eyes..... for over 
400 years this convention has been observed in Commedia.
IMHO Proportionally correct characters dont read very well in puppetry...... 
I tend to make the head and the hands somewhat larger than the body and legs 
because to me that reads better....its a convention that I have 
When building sets I always exagerate the perspective and shorten the 
vanishing a set more depth in tight spaces.....
I often, but not always, borrow from the animators/cartoonists convention of 
only having three fingers or even mitten glove hands ie a thumb and a flat 
pad instead of fingers.......Jim Henson also borrowed this 
Plenty of other examples but I think most will be getting the drift.
Of course these arent absolutes...there are never absolutes but a compendium 
of conventions may...or may useful......well maybe for a 
beginner...or out of would be helpful to have an explanation 
of WHY we do what we do......



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Katy Lloyd" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2008 7:19 PM
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Principles of Puppetry

> I'm afraid I have to agree with Jim here. There are many students on my
> modelmaking course who are very knowledgable about SFX, but it doesn't 
> make
> them any better at what they do. The more talented ones just tend to get 
> on
> with it, being inspired not by study, but by simply whatever captures 
> their
> imagination, and having the common sense to to be able to honestly judge
> their own work. I get annoyed at those who obsess with their research -
> their work always looks like a rip-off of someone else's work (Jim Henson,
> Tim Burton, etc). It's good to be inspired by others, but I believe good,
> exciting work comes mostly from within.
> Anyway, puppetry, like any art, is completely subjective. You can't write 
> a
> list of rules for something which is different for everyone - if I had a
> personal list, number 1 would be "Be Original", yet it wouldn't make sense
> to tell this to someone who wishes to make traditional marionettes, 
> because
> they would have their own set rules to follow to recreate the 
> authenticity.
> Puppetry is all about visual communication, something which should come
> naturally to us, it is intuitive. At university, we had to take some 
> lessons
> explaining the theories of communication. Perhaps I am stubborn, but I 
> found
> these lectures tiresome and pointless - surely if you are in the business 
> of
> making models and puppets, one should already know how to bloody
> communicate! Else no amount of study will help you.
> Hope I didn't offend anyone.
> Katy
> -- 
>> Jim Menke wrote:
>> >Thinking of principals as we work and perform can take all the joy out 
>> >of
>> our profession. Sure we have to do good work but to obsessed by it can
>> ruin
>> it.  ----------
>> Jim, I agree that obsesssing over and anylising everything can ruin 
>> things
>> (been guilty of that), but as in most things, moderation is a must.
>> Without
>> studies, how can we rethink what we do, and make it better?
>> Some of us go at it very mentally, some do it physically, learning by
>> process.
>> I seek balance, and for me, it comes only with a bit of both: study and
>> doing.
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