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Fuzzaboom -- A Youtube Kid's Show

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by DerpSandwich, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    Hey, all! I spent the last year developing (aka: raising enough funds for) a kid's show, and recently I was finally able to launch it. If anyone wants to check it out and tell me what you think it would be way awesome. Any and all feedback is hugely appreciated!

    Here's one of the latest episodes:


    I created the series with the internet and modern viewing habits in mind. My goal is to cultivate a large, ever-growing playlist of short episodes that can be enjoyed in little bits. Right now it's a little bare-bones, but I want to eventually bring in more characters and create more interesting backgrounds. I'm forced to use much of the same background music over and over unfortunately, as it's very hard to find good music to use for free. The green screening isn't great either. I'm unfortunately learning that most furry puppets are just not good for keying (and believe me, I've tried everything you're about to suggest). But certain background colors help, and while it's not what I wish it was, it's better than nothing, I suppose. Lighting is also an issue in such a small workspace, and avoiding neon colors was another lesson learned too late.

    Right now this is a one-man operation; all voice work and performing (apart from the occasional right handing) is done by me and edited together to make it look like multiple characters are interacting with each other.

    So let me know what you think! :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014
    Muppet Master and MikaelaMuppet like this.
  2. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    I think its fantastic! The visual and sound quality is great and its a solid lesson for kids.

    We struggle with all the issues you mentioned and have learned to accept most of them for the time being. It's fun...and thats what's important. Until Nick Jr. is giving either of us a big budget it's enough to just put on a show with heart and the best quality we can muster.

    cc
     
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  3. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    Can I ask what kind of equipment/camera you're using.. mainly because i enjoy talking shop...hahhaa
     
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  4. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    Right now I'm using a Canon t3i. I bought a Canon XF100, but I need to learn how to use it better before I start using it for the show. It's pretty frustrating, actually. The t3i has a pretty terrible resolution; it's technically 1080p because that's what the file it creates is, but the picture is fuzzy and low quality when blown up to full screen. I haven't had any luck shooting in raw, which for some people is a fix, but to me it just seems like more trouble than it's worth. I can't even get it to work with my SD cards, which are pretty decent ones.

    The XF100 is sharp and beautiful, but the color is dull and awful, compared to the t3i's gorgeous color right out of the camera. I've fiddled with color profiles and grading with no luck so far. I can't even come close. But I guess I just need to keep at it. But anyway, enough rambling about my issues, haha.

    For sound I'm using an Audio Technica AT875R with a Zoom H4N. I'm very pleased with the results there.

    I can't remember the brand, but for lighting I'm using six softboxes with four bulbs each. They're cheap, but they're doing an awesome job for what I paid (like a hundred-something per set of three) and lighting my small studio room wonderfully.

    I'm still using the crutch that is the mirrored display on my camera, but once I decide to bite the bullet and start learning how to properly monitor myself like a puppeteer, I've got an ancient portable DVD player that surprisingly makes a fine monitor.


    So that's my modest setup. Thanks for the kind words! I still haven't gotten around to dipping into that other thread with my experience and thoughts so far. It would be cool if they made it a sticky (or pinned it, whatever you call it), actually. A constantly open discussion for kid's show creators would be cool.
     
    crazy chris likes this.
  5. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    Well i think the results are wonderful! We shot our first episode on a canon 60d but i recently picked up a Sony fs100 which we will be shooting on from now on... my greatest frustration was the way our monitors screen displays squashed every time we hit record... its a weird thing that some dslr's do...

    I meant to ask... when you said above "avoiding neon colors" what did u mean? just curious

    cc
     
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  6. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    That zoom is a nice piece of equipment... i went a little cheaper with the tascam d40 because i had to buy 2 of them (fellow voice actor and co creator lives 4 states away now...lol) We use a Blue Yeti pro for our studio voice recording and a Rode ntg 2 for the studio boom.

    We record all the puppet stuff beforehand and perform it to sync.... but our live performer requires the shotgun mic.

    matching those 2 variations in sound was our biggest hurtle... still not sure if we were successful... but its not bad enough to flare up my OCD...so im cool with it...hahhaahhaaha

    cc
     
  7. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    I think the sound turned out great in your show! Sound quality is way more important than most people realize. It doesn't matter how awesome a video is if the sound is terrible!

    When I mentioned neon colors I meant in my puppets. I had two puppets built for the show, one a vivid neon orange and the other a similar green. If I had a bigger studio and real lights that could be set up farther back it might help, but right now I have a huge problem with overexposure. The light just reflects so sharply off of their fur that I've got to lower the exposure or I get a washed out image, but then that makes it dim, particularly in the eyes. You can see in the video I just posted how Lyle's fur is so bright you can barely make out any detail, but then his eyes are dingy and dark. It's a constant battle, unfortunately. Another puppet I've got, Georgie, is a darker fuchsia color, but it's still neon and reflects the light crazily. No matter what I do he comes up fuzzy and either overexposed or really dark. The XF100 makes for a better picture in this regard, but then as I said, the color thing is an issue.

    Now I know why basically every Muppet character is a subdued, non-reflective color and doesn't have any long fur! But lessons learned, I guess. Someday maybe I'll be able to afford having my characters rebuilt.
     
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  8. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much!! I agree about sound... there are so many puppet series on youtube that have so much potential...but the sound ruins it for them.

    As for your issue with the neon puppets... something you might want to do is invest in a variable ND (nuetral density) filter.

    I picked up a tiffen for around 150 bucks... they fit over the front of your lens and work sort of like wearing sunglasses on a super bright day... they allow you to open your lens iris all the way and then control the brightness with the filter... they are amazing for creating that wonderful depth of field without being overexposed.... u might do some youtube searches for nd filters and see if its something u would like...

    cc
     
  9. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    I've thought about that actually, but I haven't made a move yet. I'm trying to find out how cheap I can go without compromising image quality. (After buying the XF100 I'm hesitant to spend much more, haha.) But I definitely need to give it a try.
     
  10. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    Well... i wouldnt recommend those super cheap ones they sell on amazon for 10 -20 dollars... i hear they cause image issues. I honestly feel that i went a bit cheap with the tiffin... but i , like you, was tired of spending even more money...lol... it sucks doesnt it... you buy one thing and need to buy a dozen more things for it all to work...

    cc
     
  11. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    I hear you brother, it never seems to end! Too bad some things you just can't cheap out on. I've been learning that over the last year, and I'm glad, because now that I've allowed myself to invest in the show I've got a pretty good-looking product. The old me would have scoffed at the money I've spent.
     
  12. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    Absolutely!! We are also lucky to live in an age where a 1000 dslr puts out a better looking product than the first season of sesame street. lol... imagine if we had to pay what they paid for equipment.

    cc
     
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  13. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    Oh my gosh you're SO right! The things we've got available to us now are just unbelievable. The fact that I could start even a simple a show like mine and potentially distribute it to the entire world for only a couple thousand dollars is just insane. It's a great time to be in the entertainment business, that's for sure!
     
    crazy chris likes this.
  14. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I think the video is pretty good, especially for a first time!

    The technical problems you're having with picture quality are not because of your camera, it's because you're not using the camera's settings and exposure controls properly.

    My suggestions:
    • Ditch the blue/green screen for now. As you've discovered, keying fur is really annoying and since you're working with a plain backdrop it's unnecessary. You can buy a roll of photo backdrop paper for around $30 and it will work great.
    • Use fewer lights. You seem to be having trouble with overexposure and you don't need six lights to light a simple two puppet set-up. A key light, a fill light and a light for the background should be plenty for something this simple.
    • If you still think your lights are too bright you can try bouncing light from them on to your subjects using sheets of white foamcore. You can also try using diffusion paper in front of the light, or a neutral density filter on the camera to reduce the amount of light reaching the camera's sensor (honestly, I don't think I've ever seen a situation where it was necessary to diffuse soft boxes if the camera's exposure was set correctly).
    • Watch Tom Antos' YouTube tutorials. They will teach you everything you need to know to get started with DSLR filmmaking, including how to best set-up lights and use exposure controls.
    Both of the cameras you have can produce great video if used correctly. Generally, you should shoot using a flat picture style, then grade your footage in post production. That creates more work, but it also gives you more control.

    I suspect shooting RAW on the T3i with $2,800 worth of incredible lenses you will produce better images that what you'll get with the $2,800 XF100. Also, when the XF100 is obsolete in a year or two you can still use your awesome lenses on the next camera you buy.

    Also, just FYI, one disadvantage of the T3i is that it records in .mov format, which is a bit lossy and not ideal for shooting green screen or blue screen elements. The XF100 is probably a much better camera if you keep using green/blue screen.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014
  15. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member


    Thanks for taking the time to give me some feedback! I really appreciate it!

    Unfortunately ditching the chroma key isn't an option, as it's the only way to actually have multiple characters onscreen at once. I have been thinking about getting some backdrops for when there's only one puppet featured in a video though.

    The thing about the lighting is that I've tried all sorts of combinations. I've had exposure issues with many and with few, though my image quality and the evenness of my key improved greatly when I bought more. I'll clarify here that two of my lights are exclusively lighting my backdrop, leaving four for the subject. But you're probably right that I still have some learning to do in this regard. I do need to look into getting an ND filter. I've always wanted to try reflectors too, though there's a frustrating lack of space in my studio. But yeah, I do need to fiddle with exposure and stuff more.

    I've heard that you're supposed to shoot a flat image and grade it later from basically everyone, though I suppose I'm just not great at grading yet. I feel like it doesn't matter how long I sit down with a clip; I can never seem to get it even a little bit close to the brilliance picked up by my t3i. Mostly it's the blues--it's like nothing I do makes enough of a difference. It starts out flat and it ends up just a little less flat. But again, I probably just need more practice.

    I tried doing the RAW thing with my t3i, and I just couldn't make it work. I've got some decent class 10 cards, and I could never record more than a fraction of a second at full resolution without it cutting out. And even if I could get it to work it sounds like a huge nightmare of bizarre formats and converting and workflows and I can't even decipher most of what people are saying when they talk about it. It seems like these days DSLR's with a whole bunch of lenses and extra equipment and software are what people are choosing over camcorders, but at the moment it all seems a little beyond me. One of these days I'll probably have to make the switch. But right now I feel like I'm at the end of my rope, which is why I caved and bought the XF100. It isn't perfect, but that resolution is gorgeous, and if I can just get the color thing sorted out I'll be set for a while (even if it is obsolete after a few years, haha).

    Thanks again for chiming in. You've encouraged me to play with my lights the next time I'm in the studio. :)
     
  16. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I understand. That is a bit of a problem. What about using a split screen technique though?

    Colour correction is tricky, I suspect that you're not getting the look you want because you either not using sophisticated enough software or possibly not using the right techniques. There are a ton of really good tutorials on how to get good colour on YouTube (look up a site called "No Film School", they've linked to several of these).

    Something you have to decide is what you really want to do. If you want to be a puppeteer or filmmaker there is at least a five year learning curve before you get the point where you're really good. Not to say you can't do both at the same time, but someone primarily focused on performance and puppeteering will usually always become a better puppeteer than someone who splits their focus between the two skills and vice versa.

    I think a camcorder is a really good choice for someone who primarily wants to be a puppeteer because, as you say, it's easier to work with and you can focus on performing. A DSLR or another camera with interchangeable lenses is probably a better choice for someone primarily interested in filmmaking because it opens up more artistic and technical possibilities.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  17. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    I've considered split screen, though that would only work for certain videos, as sometimes the background is important to the performance. Or at the very least it's nice to switch it up. I plan on making more animated backgrounds.

    You're totally right about the performer/filmmaker thing. I do really want to get more into filmmaking overall, though I suppose I am going more on the puppeteer side for the moment. Maybe after I get a good chunk of content out there I'll start wanting to experiment and expand. I do want to do some non-studio stuff with my XF100, so at least I can learn a little, though I know it won't be quite as useful as learning on a "real" camera. But right now I guess I'm prioritizing the content.
     
  18. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    BTW, for green screen / blue screen lighting tips watch this video:

     
  19. DerpSandwich

    DerpSandwich Member

    Thanks, I'll give it a look!
     
  20. crazy chris

    crazy chris Well-Known Member

    I love it when a great thread like this is abuzz with activity on this forum... it seems to be a ghost town a lot of the time... such a shame considering the puppet community is growing and growing.

    cc
     

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