30 November 2005

Evolution of a mime

Originally uploaded by scrapsflippy.
Just because the horse I'm beating on doesn't quite feel dead enough yet ...

Here is a pictoral history of Mimey.

Mimey is a mime, but he's no pansy. He has a short fuse, but is a very loyal friend. As a mime, he does not speak out loud (although his silence is often communicated to the audience with subtitles). This leads to Mimey being misunderstood, which then fuels his short temper. Mimey lives with Pupsumoto, his best friend.

(More on Pupsumoto next time.)

All about the puppets - Mimey

Mimey Expressions
Originally uploaded by scrapsflippy.
I built Mimey one day as a gift for my wife. I had all this felt, pipe cleaners, etc. left over from the International Day of Puppetry. (In an historic display of "puppet nerdism" I thought it's be "cool" for me and some of my puppeteer friends to sit around and build puppets all day.) I gave Mimey to Pamela and she loved him.

Since he's a mime, Pam doesn't have to worry about lip sync. She thought this was really funny. Later that night, she called me into the living room from my home office and sang a duet with Mimey. "Sun and Moon" from Miss Saigon. Pamela sang Kim's part, and when it came time for Mimey to sing his part...

Pamela's so damn cute, it really was roll on the floor funny.

The next evening, our neighbors (who absolutely hated us for some unknown reason) yelled at our dogs. Pamela ran to the back window with Mimey and let Mimey give them a (silent) tongue-lashing.

So Pamela has pretty much cemented the character. An absolutely ridiculous mime with a very short fuse, who is completely and totally dedicated to being a mime.

The picture above is Mimey as built by Russ Walko. Compare to my earlier prototype and gift to my wife (see below entry.)

The Felties
I am digging deep into my personal journals for this entry. I guess I was inspired a bit by Michelle Zacharia's blog (found via Andrew over at Puppetvision.) Michelle is working on a shadow puppet project, and her blog reveals a deep and personal passion for what she's doing. So I've decided to pluck up my courage and get personal.
So here are some of my early thoughts about The Felties.
* * *
Treat Felties as a web-comic. Same type of humor, site-gag & "punchy" verbal humor. NOT puppetry sketches. Serialized comedy.
This means HIGH FREQUENCY of "webisodes." But -- short webisodes. I DON'T want people to have to download FOREVER.
The overall look of the project
  • Primary and secondary colors (felt squares - duh!)
  • Any patterns are simple patterns; "kindergarten" simple.
  • SIMPLICITY - I want people to see it and think "I could've done that.!"
  • Not "cartoony" but simple. Like Picasso's drawing of a bull. Minimalist - but minimalist like a circus poster. Simple, but ALIVE and QUICK AND EASY TO GRASP.
  • No real attempt to be "edgy" or "hip." Just letting the property BE what it wants to be -- letting it evolve naturally.

The look of the website

  • All of the above plus: No need for bells & whistles (i.e. Flash animation). Those can come later if needed.
  • IMPORTANT: I have limitations as a web designer. I need to use my limitations to my advantage. This is a SIMPLE idea, and doesn't require much in the way of presentation -- the CONTENT is KING.



Should be short. 2-3 minutes.

Low bandwidth - download/stream QUICK.

* * *

That's enough self-indulgence for now.

22 November 2005



One author who I constantly refer to (for inspiration if nothing else) is Rick Schmidt. His books Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices and Extreme DV at Used-Car Prices are both textbooks and manifestoes written by a doer, not a talker.

In Extreme DV there is a chapter entitled "Guerilla Promotion: A Quicktime Movie Player at Every Web Site." Although this chapter is more about launching an independent film into festivals and ancillary markets (video stores, cable TV, etc.) it got me thinking about the posibillity of skipping all that nonsense and just taking your production straight to the audience.

There's a subheading in that chapter: "Your Own Internet Six-Plex Movie Theater." Imagine that! If, like I pointed out in part one of this mini-manifesto, The experience of going to the movies is getting smaller, and the experience of watching television is getting smaller, then why not? Why not become the Loews or AMC of the internet? What's required? Is it even doable? What do you need - a powerful enough server, a PayPal account, and content.

The very same technology that the "Hollywood Establishment" and the MPAA fears -- the same technology that makes video piracy possible -- is going to make some smart entrepreneur very very wealthy when he realizes one very simple thing: There is no end of content out there. I forget the exact figure but the order of magnitude of short and feature-length films that get made in Los Angeles alone numbers well into the thousands each year. It's a buyer's market.

For me and my scrappy little puppet show, all this means one thing: I don't need to ask anyone's permission. I can bootstrap this thing, shoot it, edit it, and distribute it. There are no external stops anymore!

I can have my own television network!

(So can you!)

11 November 2005

Very interesting posts recently over on Seth Godin's blog.

To an artist, point "C" on Seth's graph is very familiar. It's the up all night, throwing stuff across the room, avoiding your landlord part of the creative cycle right before the big breakthrough that pushes your game to a whole new level.

I think about Walt Disney. How the man "hit the wall" so often, usually after some big breakthrough. The temptation is to do more of the same. Bigger! Better! Snow White II: Double the Dwarfs, Double the Action!!! This is what was expected of him after the huge success of his animated short "Three Little Pigs." So the story goes. Walt was asked "So, when can we expect the follow-up to Three Little Pigs?" Walt's response: "Never. You can't top pigs with pigs."

From an artist's standpoint, the safe thing to do is to try and top pigs with pigs. The brilliant thing is to top pigs with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

I only hope I can be so brave.