Friday, February 25, 2011

Muppeteer sketches

In 1983, during the pre-production of Fraggle Rock, Muppet designer Caroly Wilcox prepared a memo to illustrate the key aspects of the Muppet style of puppetry. The memo addressed such factors as the use and awareness of the monitor and how much the camera will display, physical position and using mics and arm rods, and other details. Wilcox indulged her sense of humor by remarking that the head is "often in the way;" that for being a Muppeteer, a beard is "much preferred"; and illustrating the "ideal Muppeteer (a three-armed person with head at the bottom to better watch the monitor).

Figure 1: Typical Muppeteer Muppeteering
- mouth line
- arm wire or rod
- 6' playboard ground row height— Bottom cut off (usual)
- Beard (much preferred)
- Headset— with mike positioned in front of mouth
- Head—often in the way. Watch out for furry animals 1" up above camera cutoff
- Head set cable
- Small monitor
- Sandbags or braces
- Helps to have people to dress the mike cables as needed if performers are moving around
- Monitors need repositioning in each new scene location.
- All puppeteers should have vision of a monitor

Figure 2: "Ideal Muppeteer (We Don't Quite Have Them Yet)"