puppets

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Animation

Dozens of Expressive Puppets Encourage Kindness and Acceptance in a Series of Sing-A-Long Short Films

February 19, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Irish director and animator Johnny Kelly (previously) is known for his puppet-based films, most notably his 2011 piece for Chipotle titled Back to the Start. His most recent project, Right on Tracks, is a series of short sing-a-long videos for Cheerios. Kelly worked with the art collective Nous Vous and Andy Gent, who was also the lead of the puppets department for Isle of Dogs.

The catchy anthems have an inclusive message that focuses on building confidence in yourself while practicing kindness to all. Walter Martin of The Walkmen created songs such as Just Be You which teaches acceptance of your own quirks and unique traits, and It’s All Family which showcases a look at familial structures in a much broader light than we typically see on TV.

“We wanted to show diversity,” Kelly told It’s Nice That. “Nous Vous’ characters are so otherworldly and abstract that they could be anyone and everyone. It was important that people empathize with them too. With such simple designs, you can read a little more into their expressions, project your own loneliness onto a lonely character, or warmth onto a happy character.”

The cast of puppets are large, small, and every size in-between, with characteristics that range from colorful tufts of hair to necks that extend out like tree branches. You can take a behind-the-scenes peek at how Kelly created the four-part series in the video below, and view more of his short films on his website and Vimeo. (via The Kid Should See This, It’s Nice That)

 

 



Amazing Design

Handmade Paper Toys by Haruki Nakamura Spring, Fold, and Jump into Action

November 16, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Japanese paper engineer Haruki Nakamura (previously) continues to design delightful toys using simple materials. A friendly armadillo curls into a self-protective ball at the touch of a finger, and a sleepy boy emerges, ready to sleepwalk, in “Astral Projection.” Nakamura uses rubber bands and carefully held points of paper tension to spark the jumpy movements of his characters, and sells kits so you can make your own endless entertainment. The artist only sells within Japan on his website, but this Penguin Bomb toy is available on Amazon.

 

 



Animation

Asleep on the Train: A Puppeteered Music Video Explores the Wishful Daydreams Embedded in a Daily Commute

October 25, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Asleep on the Train is a puppeteered music video for musician Tom Rosenthal’s new single by animator and director Catherine Prowse. The stop motion short film follows a businessman as his daily commute gets wildly off-track, leaving the audience to guess if his adventure was real or only acted out in a wishful dream. A rich blue and orange color scheme is used in the design of both the train and the surrounding landscape, which stylistically connects the protagonist’s commute to the scenery he explores during his nostalgic escape.

Prowse explains that the video “speaks to our latent desires to escape the mundanity of our existence, and yet acknowledges the futility of our dreams in which we hide away from the world.” You can watch a behind-the-scenes teaser for the new animation in the video below, and see more of Prowse’s stop motion films on her website. (Vimeo Staff Picks)

 

 



Animation

The Pits: An Endearing Short Film Follows a Lonely Avocado Searching NYC for its Other Half

May 30, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

In an awww-inducing short film written by David Bizzaro and directed by Mike Hayhurst, a fuzzy little avocado puppet wanders the streets of New York City looking for its missing half and pit. Tinkling piano music and classic New York shots of changing leaves, fast-driving taxis, and charming parks lend a rom-com feel to this fruit-forward film about searching for one’s mate. (via The Kid Should See This)

 

 



Animation

A Stop-Motion Demo Turns Meta as the Characters Gradually Take Over in ‘Stems’ by Ainslie Henderson

May 11, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

In this meta animation, animator and director Ainslie Henderson (previously) seamlessly transforms a demonstration of his stop motion practice into a film where his miniature puppets take over. The rag tag group of figures break off from Henderson’s narrative to form a slapdash electronic band, utilizing scraps from his workbench to construct instruments from the same electric detritus used to form their own hands, faces, and feet.

“Puppet making often begins by just gathering stuff, like materials that I find attractive like wood, sticks, wire, leaves, flowers, petals, and bits of broken electronics,” says Henderson in the film. “[I use] things that have already had a life are lovely to have as puppets. And then from there you just start improvising. It’s like making music, you just see where it leads you.”

During the process of animating Henderson’s voiceover gradually fades and the viewer realizes his voice is simply a tape recording on screen, and has suddenly been repurposed as an instrument by his animated creations.

Stems has picked up numerous awards since 2016 including a BAFTA in Scotland. You can watch more of Henderson’s work on his Vimeo Channel.

 

 



Craft Design

Fun Paper Kirigami and Karakuri Puppets with Unexpected Behaviors by Haruki Nakamura

June 27, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Japanese designer Haruki Nakamura has a knack for creating all kinds of interesting paper objects from puzzles to kirigami toys. One of his best designs is this awesome squeezable paper puppet that reveals a sheep wearing wolf’s clothing. Also check out his penguin bomb, a type of automated paper puppet called a karakuri that has hidden inner mechanisms. Nakamura sells all of his designs in an online shop, but currently only ships within Japan. (via GIF87a, Grape)

 

 



Animation Dance

OSSA: The Unwilling Dance Performance of a Deconstructed Puppet

July 14, 2016

Christopher Jobson

OSSA is the latest stop motion short from director Dario Imbrogno who turns the bare essentials of an animation puppet into a striking dance performance. Much of the animation process itself including cameras, lighting, and even the hands of the animator are incorporated into the film, creating an unsettling vibe, as if the subject is being forced to perform against her will. If you haven’t seen Imbrogno’s film featuring creepy paper creatures, it’s also worth a watch.

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