Kate Bush’s cool shadow puppet animation, Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe, was made to accompany a segment of the track Lake Tahoe on her new album 50 Words For Snow. In a note about the animation on her site she credits Robert Allsopp for the beautiful puppets.
The newly released Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet video game has a shadow puppet aesthetic and beautifully realised alien creatures and environments. Gaming Irresponsibly’s video review and the first 15 minutes of gameplay gives a longer introduction to the fluid, multi-layered, highly detailed imagery and the gorgeous mix of organic and industrial.
Developed by Michael Gange (who previously created Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets) and Joe Olson, it is described as ’a side-scrolling adventure that is a fusion of art, classical animation, and captivating gameplay’ and is developed by Shadow Planet Productions (Fuelcell Games and Gagne International).
(Hope it comes to iPad someday!)
Shadow Monsters by Philip Worthington is a wonderful interactive and digital form of shadow puppets, in which the programming generates fantastic and playful extensions to the shadows of participants bodies and hands, and quirky and wild sounds. (There are more YouTube videos).
The Shadow Monsters grew from a brief about technological magic tricks. I was looking at optical illusions and Victorian hand shadows particularly interested me as a starting point. The subtlety with which a character could be created was already very magical and I wondered if there was room to experiment with these techniques. Looking back to my own childhood, I remembered the feeling of casting huge shapes in the light of my father’s slide projector, creating monsters and silly animals. I enjoy working with simple intuitive things; playful feelings that touch us on a very basic level.At the same time I was experimenting with some software for vision recognition so slowly the monsters evolved. At first I made a puppet show with coloured pencils that had hair and eyes… and this slowly grew in complexity until I had a system that could go some of the way to understanding hand posture. The rest is history.
(photo: Sidat de Silva)
Looking for a Monster is based on an original puppet play written by a thirteen year old boy, Hanus Hachenburg in the Terezin concentration camp in 1943, shortly before his transportation to the Auschwitz Death Camp. In 1999, puppeteer Gary Friedman discovered the play in a Jerusalem archive. It was performed for the first time in 2001 and has just been filmed in Sydney for inclusion in Gary’s documentary film about the life of Hanus Hachenburg. Gary has a slideshow of photos taken at the shoot in the sidebar of his blog, Puppetry News, and you can also see individual photos in this gallery.
Incidentally, Gary is running another Puppetry for TV course starting in June.
Take a look at Professor Litmus Lenticular III’s photoset of wonderful zany shadow puppet characters.
The Sydney Morning Herald today talks to Raymond Crowe, a self-described ‘unusualist’ – ventriloquist, magician and hand shadow puppeteer from Adelaide – who, after 26 years in the business, has found at least temporary fame on YouTube with his Helpmann Awards shadow performance of Louise Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World:
Sean Kenan, another Australian hand shadow puppeteer, also has a presence on YouTube, and has recently been invited invited by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop to perform at the World Performing Arts Festival in Lahore Pakistan later this year.
Kim Carpenter’s highly regarded Theatre of Image has a new production called Lulie the Iceberg, an international collaboration featuring the shadow puppetry of shadow puppet masters from Tokyo’s Kagebushi Theatre Company. You can see a cool behind-the-scenes video of one of their development workshops if you take the ‘teachers’ link on their site. (Sorry, it’s not possible to give a direct link.)
The show is running at the Riverside Theatre Parramatta, 22 February to 3 March, and there are early bird deals and associated exhibitions and demonstrations. More details here at Unima Australia.
The Gothia Gazette is reporting that The Mysterious Geographic Adventures of Jasper Morello, nominated for Best Animated Sort in the Academy Awards, will be screening on SBS on this Friday 10th March at 8.00pm. The DVD of Jasper Morello, including a ‘making of’ featurette and other award winning films by director Anthony Lucas will be in shops on March 15th. Don’t miss it!
Another winner in the recent Australian Film Institute Awards was The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, which picked up Best Short Animation, and Oustanding Achievement in Craft in a Non-Feature, Production Design, for the director, Anthony Lucas. It caught my attention not only because it looks cool, but because it’s another example of the exciting work going on with shadow puppetry and new technologies that I mentioned in a couple of previous posts.
Back in October, Ward was really enthusiastic about seeing Jasper at the Ottawa Animation Festival:
Omigosh, I absolutely LOVED the next film… Is it stop-motion? CG? It’s a little bit of both and it looks entirely amazing. Harking back to the very first animated film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), Jasper is done in silhouette, like an elaborate shadow puppet play.
You can get a feel for film by looking at their wallpaper downloads. There is an interesting mix of silhouette and photographic detail. And I like the whimsy of the imagined world and the gazette; some of it is quite pointed. Too bad Jasper not going to be screened here in Canberra.
Anthony Lucas is from 3D Films, which specializes in clay and stop-motion animation for TV commercials, station IDs and special effects. It’s an interesting site to take a wander through. There are some precursors to Jasper. For instance, there are stills and making details of the SBS Station IDs that were done with silhouettes and organic materials to give them a handmade look, as well as a quick time movie of one of them. And the selection of images from their film Holding your Breath are great. I like the look of Bad Baby Amy, too.
Lucas‘s Jasper Morello has been nominated for an Oscar in the best short animation catagory.
A review in The Age.
A short video clip from Jasper Morello.
Jasper Morello will be screening on SBS on Friday 10th March at 8.00pm.
The DVD of Jasper Morello, including a ‘making of’ featurette and other award winning films by director Anthony Lucas will be in shops on March 15th.
(Photograph: Julian Crouch)
PuppetVision recently referred to The Modern Shadow where Michelle Zacharia is exploring combining Indonesian Wayang Golek puppetry and video and digital production techniques, and thinking about western influences in Indonesia. It reminded me of a production here called The Theft of Sita which was commissioned by the 2000 Adelaide Festival of Arts and received acclaim both here and overseas. It was a modern retelling of the Ramayana using shadow puppetry, and involved a remarkable collaboration of artists, puppeteers, makers and musicians.
The piece was written and directed by Nigel Jamieson (AU); music composed by the Australian jazz musician Paul Grabowsky (AU) and Balinese gamelon artist I Wayan Gde Yudane; designed by Julian Crouch (UK); and the puppetry directors were Peter J. Wilson (AU) and Balinese master I Made Sidia (who both performed in the show).
This Ramayana begins conventionally, but quickly explodes into a metaphor of the tumultuous events surrounding the overthrow of Suharto. Computer-generated images and photographic projections of demonstrations coexist with giant shadow puppet logging beasts. There are white water rafters and withering paddy fields in Bali. And Langka becomes a futuristic city of gleaming steel and glass towers, and of rubbish tips. Giant screens lift and disappear, perspective shifts from screens at the front to screens at the back of the stage. Shadow puppets emerge on tiny screens in the middle of the space and then shift again.
Robin’s article is worth reading in full, as is Peter Wilson’s account in his book ‘The Space Between: The Art of Puppetry and Visual Theatre in Australia’, where he describes The Theft of Sita as a transformation of the ancient tale into a modern allegory of environmental politics.
Unfortunately I didn’t see The Theft of Sita, but I have seen a TV program that was made about it.
The designer, Julian Crouch, has a gallery showing some of the wonderful shadow puppets and scenes from the show, including the one above. His other galleries have some gems in them, too. Just a couple of examples: a dog, some huge figures, and some rather beautiful arresting star faces.