Back drop

This is the place for Technical Tips, Questions and Answers.

Back drop

Postby CvdC » 28 Oct 2006, 09:16

I have just finished a booth and this is the backdrop.
Image

It is in three sections. The two side panels angle out towards the front of stage. This is for hands-above-head frame. The idea is based on the Piccini booth in that puppets can be brought up behind the side curtains and poke out at the front.
I realise this is the antithesis of having the background black but ... what can you do?
Image
User avatar
CvdC
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 1032
Joined: 12 Aug 2006, 01:02
Location: Antipodes

Postby Miraiker » 28 Oct 2006, 10:25

It's a very nice painting Chris.
Bob Wade always taught me that sceneries should be painted in soft tones, no bright colours or bold markings. The reason being that the scenery should not distract the audience from the puppets.
But... what can you do?
User avatar
Miraiker
Big Banger
Big Banger
 
Posts: 295
Joined: 08 Aug 2006, 19:28
Location: Claydon, Suffolk

I suppose I could tone it down a bit

Postby CvdC » 28 Oct 2006, 11:02

I could give it a wash to tone it down a bit. But I figure once the puppets are moving and talking it all adds to the colour. I mean you don't want it boring. Restrained and artistic is not what Punch and Judy is all about I figure.
But the idea I am trying to get across here is that the sides can be incorporated into the backgound creating a kind of diarama effect.
There are a few oportunities for the puppets to poke out of unexpected spaces. From below the stage, from either side of the booth and in this arrangement from behind the side curtain. Each time this happens during a peformance it adds to the mayhem.
User avatar
CvdC
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 1032
Joined: 12 Aug 2006, 01:02
Location: Antipodes

Postby Miraiker » 28 Oct 2006, 18:43

I don't think a softer scene makes it boring - only a bad show does that.
I have seen 3 sided sceneries before. Brian Davey painted a lovely one for John Pulson. He works hands in front and likes the continuation of the scene. - a bit trickier to put up I believe but I'm sure it's worth the trouble.
I have seperate side pieces but don't always use them as I have flaps in the sides of my booth for puppets to appear out of and I find the side pieces get in the way of these.
Still, it wouldn't do for all our shows to be the same would it?
User avatar
Miraiker
Big Banger
Big Banger
 
Posts: 295
Joined: 08 Aug 2006, 19:28
Location: Claydon, Suffolk

Postby Chris » 29 Oct 2006, 20:56

I don't think the idea of a subdued backcloth is to be restrained and artistic - its to make sure that people can see the puppets properly. The golden rule of good puppet design is that they should be designed for the audience not the puppeteer.

Bob Wade's advice shows that he had the right idea - but its not really a case of soft or hard colours only - its a question of focus and tone. In photographic terms it is a question of depth of field. If you want a figure to jump out of a photograph then the figure in the foreground must be in sharp focus, and the background slightly out of focus.

Therefore Bob was right to avoid hard lines and to go for a softer look - but also the tone in the background must contast with the foreground. Things in the distance begin to lose colour, lose saturation - to go more towards monochrome.(Remember those blue mountains in the school art class?)

A good test is to set up a puppet against the background, stand a good distance away, and squint through half-closed eyes, or view through a couple of pairs of sunglasses. If the tones of puppet and backcloth are too similar then the the puppet will totally blend in.

I've faced this problem on the marionette stage - and rather than repaint an area of 6 square metres I'v had partial success by overspraying the entire cloth with a dark, near black paint. It requires several layers of light misting.

By the way Chris, I think your Punch could do with corrective eye surgery.

But this answer is general advice re. backcloths, taking up Miraiker's points. In actual fact your Punch stands out beautifully against this cloth - but would a puppet dressed in more subdued colours?
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

yes of course

Postby CvdC » 29 Oct 2006, 21:18

Yes I understand all that. The dulling back I mention was the same thing as you mention by spraying a mist. What I meant by restrained was that to me Punch is about colour, noise and movement. Gayly decorated booths, bunting, a backdrop and colourfully dressed puppets. A lot of the art puppetry I have seen is dark, slow and meaningful.

I hope by eye surgery you mean to correct the fact that one eye looks in one direction and the other in another direction. Because that I do on purpose. Otherwise I have made a mistake and you'll need to be more specific so I can perform the required surgical procedure..

The main point I tried to make here is that by having the sides angled in towards the back of the booth you have a gap in which to bring the puppets up and to the front. This means you can still have sides and poke puppets out through the side of the booth or they can appear from behind the side curtain as you see in the Cruikshank illustrations and is used to good effect in the scene with the Servant.
It means the backdrop needs to be about 8inches shorter either side than the width of the booth. It allows for the sides to be incorporated into the design to make the diarama effect.
It is but an alternative.
User avatar
CvdC
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 1032
Joined: 12 Aug 2006, 01:02
Location: Antipodes

Going down on Punch

Postby Chris » 29 Oct 2006, 23:06

Because you do it on purpose doesn't mean that you can't be making a mistake.

I haven't seen any Punch shows that are dark and slow and meaningful. But I do agree with you that there is a lot of such puppetry about - mostly to cover the fact that the perpetraters can't work puppets.

Yes, its great fun to experiment with scenery - on the puppet stage. Not so much on the Punch stage where all the action should be on the puppets. Punch scenery which is there for the action - widows, doors etc. - is usually hinged to come into view when needed, then flip out of the way. Practical, but totally illogical, and only really acceptable in the peculiarity which is the Punch show.

Re. Cruikshank illustrations - remember that his job was to make attractive pictures, - not an accurate instructional blueprint.

Personally I tend to think we waste too much time on backcloths (myself included). It's mainly self-indulgence - not for our audiences. Remember where our audience sits. Put your booth up folks, go sit on the floor where the kids sit - and just see how much of the backcloth you can actually see.
In the case of Chris's attractive cloth, will the average 6 year old be able to see the top of the shops' windows, to read the signs? I doubt it very much - especially as Chris says this is for hands above head use.

Going off the backcloth topic - but really on the same point. A couple of years ago I watched some of the PJF Grand Inquisition judging potential Full members. They all did their judging from a standing position. They judged shows from a viewpoint twice as high as the eyeline of the audience? And then there was the hurried pencilling when some performer raised a doll too high and revealed a touch of bare arm!!! But the audience members (the children) couldn't see the arm could they?
To judge properly those judges should have been on sat on the ground, seeing what the children saw.

We can all learn a lot from having our show videoed from audience level.
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Postby Tony James » 30 Oct 2006, 00:27

This reply of Chris's really should go in Hints and Tips. He is so right. Two thoughts.

Back in the 70s I painted a beautiful Punch backcloth - village pantomime scene - and it really looked the business. Got someone to check it out and it was fine. I was working in Spain at the time.

My old mate Billy McComb can out working, saw my shows and loved the backcloth, except - it didn't work. He said you couldn't see the puppets clearly enough against the backcloth. I had checked it from 12 or 15 feet but by then I was pulling crowds of 300 or 400 each night so many were further back. Billy went inside and waggled two of the figures and he was right. They showed but lost something. They lost a lot. Not easy to follow. Heartbreaking. I kept that backcloth for twenty years before I slung it.

Which is why I still use a plain background.

Second point about perspective. When I was buying children's magic for my shows (I reckon I have enough to see me out now!) I used to sit on the floor to watch a dealer dem. Not at conventions but in private at dealer's studios. I remember Harry Stanley asking me what I was doing. It was perhaps the only time I would see the effect from a child's view. And seeing it fresh. It's sometimes surprising how different is a child's eye wiew from that of an adult.

There are things a seated person will see that someone stood will not and vice versa.
User avatar
Tony James
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 664
Joined: 08 Aug 2006, 21:22
Location: Cheshire UK

Missed the original pictures

Postby Sean Keohane » 07 Dec 2006, 21:35

Sorry to have missed the pictures Chris vdC had originally posted, as it would be good to see the back drop, and the sides. If it isn't too much trouble, might they be reposted, Mr van der Craats (or of course you could simply email them to me)?

Not having seen the picture, I can't make any comment about the wall-eyed Punch that Chris refers to, but I've always liked that slightly 'off' eye in some Punch figures myself. I not only have a Punch that Chris vdC made, but a wall-eyed Judy which I've transformed into a Polichinelle to tour with a French script. That Judy/Polichinelle was sold in England, and its eye was no doubt inspired by the Picinni drawings, as was the wandering eye in Chris vdC's puppets. I have heard two negative comments about the Polichinelle's eye, though most people seem to think the puppet looks great. One woman said she found the skewed eye confusing, and even disturbing, and another puppeteer said because of it the character's focus seemed wrong.

Now, the second comment was really probably a needed critique on my manipulation, but when I mentioned it to a third puppeteer who had also seen my show, he said, "of course the focus is off; your Punch has a dead eye, and that's fine." It wasn't entirely encouraging, but at least that fellow, who didn't mind the dead eye, has booked me, and my wall-eyed Polichinelle, for a gig next month.

But that eye, it may bear watching.

Sean K.
User avatar
Sean Keohane
Beefy
Beefy
 
Posts: 55
Joined: 09 Sep 2006, 18:32
Location: Spuyten Duyvil, NY, USA


Return to Punch Workshop

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron