Monday, February 21, 2011

Old + New = Spellbinding

French animation master Michel Ocelot has made a new film - Les Contes de la Nuit (or Tales of the Night) - featuring "...six freshly conceived fairy tales that are rendered instantly timeless."

The film is presented in 3D, which " Ocelot's distinctive two-dimensional look a pop-up book feel..." - or as I prefer to imagine it, a kind of toy theatre depth!

Tomtom Boy: A boy trains to master a magic tom-tom drum that makes  everyone dance
The Doe Girl: A doting young man sees his beloved turned into a doe by a  jealous
sorcerer; she will stay that way unless he can find the touch that will change her back

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Puppet Heap

Click to see Video...
Puppet Buzz posted today about a delightful series of videos that I had to pass on.  They are highly amusing and just plain fun.  Lots of hard work and love obviously went into their production, and it shows!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vaudeville "Music Hall" Theatre

The above video shows an animated toy theatre. It's animated physically, not digitally. It's your standard paper toy theatre, but the characters and props are all jointed so in addition to sliding them around the stage, they can also be manually manipulated to perform actions.  To be more exact, "...they are string-pull puppets, working along the same principle as jumping jacks, so they can be 'remotely controlled' by a puppeteer."

The theatre is called "Vaudeville", but is also known by some as "Puppet Music-Hall", and it was created by Pete Brown.

Pete, a boat builder from Ireland, shared with me that he enjoys puppetry as a hobby, mostly large-scale for parades.  However, the idea of the music hall characters were "...just knocking around inside my head", so he felt he had to create something out of the premise.  This toy theatre design, and the book that followed, is the creative, innovative, and fun result!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Animation Resource

I ran across what I thought was a traditional toy theatre, but soon realized it was virtual.  "Whatever created this, is good," I thought.  I asked the website's creator to share a bit about the software used...

iClone is a 3D animation software. Up until now that sort of 3D software was expensive and slow. It took days or even weeks to build up the frames needed for a final animation. It had to place each and every pixel on the screen and work out how to bounce each and every ray of light off the scene. But iClone does all that instantly, because it uses a videogame engine and the user's PC gaming graphics-card to do all the heavy-lifting required to make a 3D animation. It's affordable too, and very usable - a lot of its content is drag-and-drop. My Alice Theater can be animated quite easily. There's a free version of iClone, iClone Ex, if people want to try it out.
Still from "Alice" toy theatre animation, created with iClone

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Exhibition Feedback

"The Wedding Supper", somehow I want to call it the "Last Supper"!
How many celebrities can YOU identify?
[Click to enlarge]
I recently wrote about an exhibition that uses toy theatre in a very fun, inventive, and stimulating manner. It opened last weekend.  One of the individuals behind the exhibition, Bren O'Callaghan, wrote to share some images from the exhibition (see below) and these kind comments...
Dear Trish

Thanks so much for getting in touch about my exhibition, apologies it has taken until now but I was consumed with the final few days of preparation and then had to take a few days off!

Please find attached two images of each theatre should you wish to use these on your site.

Thanks also for the lovely blog post, you seem to have the hang of the purpose behind the work - building upon the seed of an idea first proposed by TV comedian Harry Hill, actually the alter-ego of artist Matthew Hall. I picked up the baton of the earlier challenge so to speak, and decided to interpret Cruikshank's mammoth painting by selecting key vignettes from within the larger whole. I wanted to retain the sense of caricature and retreating fields of depth, which is why I turned to the form of toy theatres, and I glad I did because I've loved every moment of this project - even though it was hard work at times!

Best regards,


David Bailey

Laura Barnard

Charlotte Gould and Hannah Gibson

Simon Misra

Gemma Parker

John Powell-Jones

The exhibition is ongoing through February 27th.
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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Toy Theatre Bicentennial

A website devoted to the small stage has declared 2011 the bicentennial of toy theatre.

Actually there has been talk about 2011 being toy theatre's bicentennial year before.

I'm not sure how 1811 has gotten momentum as the chosen 'year one' of toy theatre; many will posit that toy theatre existed before then in one form or another, but as regards the classic form that is associated with Victorian England, I think it can be argued to have its roots in that general time frame.

The question now is, will the toy theatre community at large acknowledge this?  Will it be embraced, and used to celebrate and publicize toy theatre far and wide?  I think it would be a great opportunity to do so...