26 May 2006

The Felties: Set Design part one

The Felties have a very simple design, and the world they inhabit should be an extension of that simplicity. As much as I'd like to set a puppet show in the Okefenokee Swamp, or backstage at the Moulin Rouge, I realize that most folks will be watching this thing on a two-and-a-half inch display. If the picture is cluttered with superfluous detail (or if the background has too much texture) the main action will get lost. Also, the more complex the picture, the bigger the file. The bigger the file, the longer the download, and the longer the download the greater the chance my potential audience member will click on through to something else.

The pilot episode takes place entirely in Mimey and Pupsumoto's apartment. (Yeah. It's another puppet series set primarily in an apartment.) The up side is, I can build a "box set", basically three walls that surround the action diorama style. Very simple. The downside is, box sets are boooring.

Curiously, although there is a wealth of information available online about how to build puppets, there is very little regarding how to create environments for those puppets to inhabit.

Any Henson geek knows that the way you build sets for puppets is to build them "up" (see first illustration.) Also, couches and chairs should be built without seats (see the second illustration) and "built up" to match the lower edge of the set walls. In fact, any set-prop that would normally sit on the floor has to be put on stilts, as it were (coffee tables, televisions, etc.) And now you know why you never saw Bert and Ernie's shag carpet!

The first illustration is a thumbnail sketch of what Mimey and Pupsumoto's apartment is going to look like. Like I said, boooring! The challenge is to extend the fun, zany design of the puppets to the environment around them. The answer lies in something called "stylistic consistency" and that has everything to do with the principles of design.

To be continued . . .

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