Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Behind the Scenes

When I was puppet director for our church puppet team, I added a special performance to our general offerings. If our team was performing for an audience without children, which we did on occasion, we would perform one song twice - the first time as usual and the second without curtains. For those who aren't familiar with puppetry, the curtains hide the puppeteer. We used two sets of curtains, higher in the back for the tall puppeteens and low in the front for the shorter ones. I wonder if I can post one of our videos here. I wonder if I have one of our videos. We were quite something. Hmm.

Without fail, the performance without curtains got the most attention. I chose our "coolest" song - the one with all the puppets, all the signs, all the special effects - the song that people generally loved and talked about afterwards when performed as usual. But seeing the behind-the-scenes of that song brought a whole new understanding to our viewers about puppetry, and hopefully a whole new appreciation for the skill required.

My father was a hobbyist photographer. We have many beautiful pictures of skyscapes he took while on the islands. One picture is of another friend, Don, lying flat on his stomach in a field of grass, camera aimed as sweat pools along his back under the tropical sun. What could Don be going to all that trouble to capture?

Turns out - nothing. We have Don's picture from that time. It is of grass. Not even interesting grass. Now, maybe whatever he was trying to photograph wandered off while he was getting ready, but the two pictures tell very different tales.

I love the SPFX shows from the 80's and the special features of today's dvds that give back story to the movie. I love to know how the monsters work, and the inspiration for the various wardrobes, and how the actors get into character before filming.

I am curious, but not about the kinds of things most people find interesting. I don't care how old your children are, or where you went on vacation (unless it was the moon), or what kind of car you drive. I want to know how FV programming works, or why words mean what they do, or how that guy inside the giant cloth slinky makes it move like that (you've seen the youtube video. I know you have).

TT: Oddly enough, this does not translate into a desire to know how magic tricks work. Yes, I'm weird. Get used to it.

This blog is my behind-the-scenes. Here you will glimpse what goes into that story you hopefully enjoyed so much. Maybe knowing how I struggled to write Elementals will make it more special for you. Maybe knowing my writing process will help you find your own. Maybe just knowing there is someone weirder than you in the world is worth the price of admission.

I have no other reason for writing here, really. If it doesn't work out, I can always go back to puppeteering. I was pretty good.

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