Sally Smart – Pedagogical Puppet Projects

I worked on the pedagogical puppet projects during September 2012 for about twenty days. Sally Smart was the artist in residence at the University of Connecticut. She was interested in making video and stop motion animation work so I stuck around to collaborate on this exciting project.

Everything was shot, both still and video, on a Nikon D300s and sound was captured on a Zoom H4n with some AT external condenser microphones in four channel surround. The video was shot in 720p on the camera, converted into Apple ProRes422HQ and then up-converted in Final Cut Pro into 1080p using the same codec. I’m quite happy with the results considering the obvious gear related bottle necks in terms of quality.

Sally was really interesting and it was a pleasure working with her. We both had rather maniacal coffee fueled work ethics which kept us busy both working and editing until hours before the opening. Sally and I would sit and she would try and explain her vision and ideas related to the six different projects. Then dancers, puppeteers, voice actors, etc. would come in and we would shoot videos, photos and photo animation sequences based on our discussions.

Once the media was captured we’d have another round of talks about what to do in terms of editing and the flow of the videos. I’d run away from the busy studio and isolate myself and put together a rough cut. Then we’d meet the next day, screen it and talk about what Sally did and didn’t like and she’d talk about what changes she’d like to see to get it closer to her vision.

I’d go away again and work on another version. This was both the hardest and most fulfilling part of the process. I had to review notes and conversations in my head and try and come up with a solution that worked for me in the world of editing and also came close to the vision Sally was looking for. I didn’t have the luxury of a narrowly developed story board to follow. It was sometimes frustrating, but it also gave me the ability to put myself into the piece while trying to create something that would match Sally’s direction.