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Life-Size George Harrison Marionette

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Unknown Delight, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Hi Everyone!

    I have been meaning to come back here and share this with you all, as this seems to be a place where i think this project i have been working on would have a enthusiastic audience.

    Since folks here seem to appreciate all forms of puppetry and figure animation, i thought i would post here and let everyone know about a character i built earlier this year- a lifesize marionette of George Harrison.

    [​IMG]

    I have been making and performing with my own handcrafted marionettes for well over 35 years, but 'George' is by far in my own opinion my best work to date. At a later time i will share more photos of my other characters, but for now i will let you enjoy these performance videos i shot a few months back.

    Watch 'George' perform here on YouTube-

    http://www.youtube.com/user/pizzatimeplayer


    Read all about his creation, and see many nice photographs of my 'George' marionette here on the official George Harrison Forum-

    http://board.georgeharrison.com/viewtopic.php?q=board/viewtopic.php&f=8&t=15630

    Enjoy, and i look forward to any comments.


  2. Whimsy

    Whimsy New Member

    First in to say that's really cool!
  3. Thanks Whimsy....glad to hear that someone likes it.

    :flirt:
  4. Melonpool

    Melonpool Member

    I am so incredibly impressed with this. I wonder what would happen if you could somehow get word to Paul McCartney... in my little weird imagination, I could see him utilizing you in a music video of some kind.

    Top notch!
  5. Many thanks to you Melonpool for the kind thoughts.

    Interesting idea. I have had some feedback from another forum where some folks suggested a similar thought, but instead of Paul they suggested George's own son Dhani. He now has a band of his own making it's way ( just finished their first tour) and suggested he might be interested in utilizing this somehow in a future music video.

    I have to be honest and say i would of course be thrilled to be involved in such a project, but i have to admit i am not overly sure how his son would feel about seeing a lifesize puppet of his passed on father! This has made me hold back a little as far as wanting to pursue contacting them. The last thing i would want to do it freak him out..as i find this puppet seems to render two extreme reactions. People either love it, or express great displeasure as they find it 'creepy' or 'disturbing'.

    I appreciate your comments!

    :flirt:
  6. wes

    wes Active Member

    is that really a marionette it looks and moves like a animatronic.
  7. He is most definately a marionette. ALL of his movements are controlled above by strings, and there are NO electronic elements whatsoever. Even the eyes are controlled by string-pulling.

    I remember when i posted his first video on YouTube, i had to go back and add additonal comments as people were assuming this was a animatronic or radio-controlled figure. Nope...just pulling strings a certain way makes him move the way he does ( and 35+ years of experience helps too..)

    One of my videos called 'Behind the Strings' shows me operating 'George'. Check it out, and see how i actually control him!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-66P7i0erXE


    I have to use two seperate control bars , one in each hand, and coordinate them together during one of his performances. The large bar controls his arms/elbows/hands , and the smaller bar controls his head movements as well as mouth/eyes/lids.

    :cool:
  8. wes

    wes Active Member

    Nice Control of Manipulation!
  9. Puppetainer

    Puppetainer Member

    Well, as a huge George Harrison and puppet fan allow me to add my input.

    Awesome!

    I can understand your hesitance to approach George's family and/or Sir Paul. There's a good chance that they would see it for the loving tribute that it is though, rather than anything "creepy". With the viral nature of the internet it seems likely they'll get wind of it one way or another. Seems it would be best if the artist was the one giving the proper introduction.

    Whether you choose to approach them or not is a fine piece of artistry (and some outstanding puppeteering skills as well) and you should indeed be proud!
  10. Wow Puppetainer..i am so warmed by your glowing words.

    You have made me a very happy gal tonight. :flirt: Many thanks for your kind compliments on my performance.

    Your thoughts have encouraged me to reconsider, and i thank you for your feedback. Yes i agree with you - chances are George's family/estate may already be aware of this. I had a interesting listing in my 'Insight' section on YouTube about two months ago that made me cock a eyebrow ..so anything is possible. All i hope is that when they DO find 'George'...they enjoy it in a positive way.






    Wes, i thank you too for your words regarding the control. 'George' is a special case and i built him to be very 'solid' but also very flexible in a animated standpoint. A hard combo sometimes, as we all know!

    I am glad people here can full understand this stuff, and can get into it knowing what it takes to make it happen. I really appreciate your reviews!

    :D
  11. It is just now dawning on me that i have neglected to post any photos in this thread! How silly of me....as this topic needs some photos.

    In my original post above i included a link to the thread i have going over at the Official GH Forum, but thought i would post some pix here directly so those just passing through can have a look at what we are talking about.

    I recommend checking out that link however, exspecially if anyone is interested in learning more about how he was made. It goes into a lot of details, and also includes several of the drawings i did to plan out how i was going to tackle the challange of making him.

    Enjoy!

    Here now are some photos of 'George' -



    [​IMG]

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  12. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Active Member

    Wow, this is so cool! Marionettes usually appear odd and frightening to me (phobia! :eek: ), but this is just so smooth and nice!
  13. Thanks Vic! Yeah i know what you mean - most marionettes that you see 'out there' tend to always be made the traditional way , hard bodied. Many tend to be carved from wood giving them a hard look, and they are almost always very loosely strung. This makes them a bit floppy and difficult to keep still, not to mention make them hard to control for a believable performance.

    Most of the marionettes i have made over the years look more like stuffed toys or mini mascot characters on strings compared to the more traditional route. I have always gone soft...with solid foam bases. The brightly colored plush, hair, feathers, and felt give them a really nice look and livens things up. The hard foam i use inside gives them enough weight for movements, but keeps them LIGHT which is so important when it comes to manipulation and keeping up your stamina.

    Here are a few photos of some of my other creations as a example. I have made my own characters as well as some famous ones....

    First, a pic i think you will enjoy seeing....since everyone here is probably as big a fan of the film 'Labyrinth' as i am ..

    [​IMG]

    The Firey marionette i made in 86' to coincide with the films release. He looks even better from the side in profile, as you can see his snout and smile much better then when you see him from the front as this photo shows. He is about 2 1/2 feet tall and has several animations, the most fun being his flapping ears and moving tail! I still use him, usually around Halloween, to walk around with and surprise folks with. It is cool now how many people know who he is! I also made a Sir Didymus ( 1 1/2 ft tall) but alas, i currently do not have a photo

    The character next to his photo is one of my own, Doolie Dragon.I made him in 1988 when i was still in high school. He has animated eyes and a mouth, as well as moving limbs for walking and a swinging tail. He was the largest marionette i made ( 3ft) until i made 'George'.

    -

    Another photo featuring characters you may know...

    [​IMG]

    Both of these i made back in the mid 80s, and both are about 1 1/2 ft tall...perfect 'Fraggle Size' i guess! Both are fully functioning marionettes, with mouth animation as well.

    -

    Now for some of my own characters.

    [​IMG]

    'The Psychographic Pagodas' is a rock band consisting of several marionette characters i made, the two main bandmembers are shown here - Rock n' Roo and Taylor Koala. The instruments are made from posterboard/painted paper and Taylor's drumsticks are hand carved from dowels. Both are about 18 inches tall.


    [​IMG]

    Kitrina Kittie and Donna Doggette are my two lead females singing characters. They are both about 18ins tall, and Kitirina has eyeliids that can be lifted up to express surprise or emotion when singing.

    [​IMG]
    Peter and Penelope Penguin here often appeared in my annual Christmas Show offerings. Both are about 18in tall, and have a definate penguin look about them when seen in profile from the side. Almost all of the figures i made were sculpted to be viewable from every angle, and the Penguins i think look even better from the side.

    Now for something really wacky...
    [​IMG]

    These are crazy space creatures called 'Wackadallies' from the planet Wackadal. Original characters i created to appear in a show i was doing at the time in the early 90s. The idea was that during the show, the audience was aksed to imagine the weirdest, most colorful space aliens they could. The result was the following act featuring these two beings. The jumbled appearence of them was intentional, since i thought it would make sense as the audience imagined them.

    Both are about 20 ins tall and have the most animations of any of my characters. Heads can rise ( ala E.T.), ears can flap, mouths move, tails twitch, all arms move, and the feet of course.

    The blue alien ( Marsven) may look reminisant of a famous Disney character. When people see them today, they assume Marsven is Stitch as they look a lot alike! What i find interesting is i built these in 1992, 10 years BEFORE the release of Disney's animated film 'Lilo And Stitch'. So i had the design first...:p
    Bliffenstimmers likes this.
  14. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Active Member

    Peter and Penelope are my favs, any videos of them? :excited:
  15. Yes, but nothing is uploaded for sharing at this point. I have videotaped TONS of stuff, much of it different shows and skits i have done over the years. To date, i have not invested in getting any of this stuff up on YouTube.

    If there is interest, at some point after the Holidays i will choose a few skits and get them up.

    For now, here is what else i DO have up....courtesy of a friend.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aoc5xMQ4THU

    Here is a video featuring some clips of four episodes of 'Letters to Looney Bird LIVE'. This is a 'pretend' tv show series where my friend J and his pal Looney Bird sit on his couch and answer fan letters. Looney Bird used to be a big star, but he is now a 80s 'has been' and is having trouble adjusting. His mood swings and ego sometimes get out of control. J tries to keep things positive and the fan mail helps. It is completely random and we have had some very funny moments. Most of what we do is improvised on the spot in front of the camera, but i usually put together a brief overview of what the two of them should cover in a program to maintain the running storyline. You just never know what these two are going to do..some of the stuff is really outrageous and wacky ( and family friendly..i should add). Some friends of ours really liked the program and found it quite fun, so we complied two dvd volumes of episodes. This clip is actually a short promo i put together for the 2nd dvd release this past Summer.

    I built Looney Bird in 2004, and operate him with both hands. He is bascially made just like i make my marionettes, except in his case the strings are reversed. Instead of being controlled from above, his strings are pulled from below similar to a vent figure. Head on a large dowel, with wire levels to pull the strings with. Again, all animations are hand operated by one puppeteer ...and no electronic/animatronic parts whatsoever.

    The ORIGINAL character of Looney Bird that i based my puppet on is actually from a well known 80s pizza/arcade resturant called 'Showbiz Pizza Place'. It was similar to 'Chuck E. Cheese's' but had a excellent and highly entertaining animatronic band called 'The Rock-aFire Explosion'. Looney Bird is well known to fans of this concept and show. The puppet version i made to look very similar to the original animatronic version seen at these resturants back in the day.

    If you do a search on YouTube for 'Looney Bird' you will more then likely see some of these original animatronic band videos pop up as well as a few more videos of my puppet with J. I thought i would mention this to avoid any confusion.



    Let me know what you think ! :concern:
    Lily likes this.
  16. Apologies for getting off topic.....i need to get back to talking about 'George'!

    Some fun facts about him for those interested-

    'George' is over 6ft tall...Harrison's actual height i beleive.

    The ring he wears is a reproduction of a ring George himself wore often in the mid 80's. It was recreated out of painted posterpaper and a single black 'aquarium' stone.

    The most difficult item to find related to his creation was his SHOES. It was very hard finding dressy mens shoes not made out of leather.

    He wears a actual complete suit of clothing ( size youth 16, USA).

    The SINGLE most expensive item used for this project - the small 'Dark Horse Records' lapel pin on his jacket. ( $80).

    His hands are completely poseable thanks to a eternal 'skeleton' of stiff wires in his fingers. This enables him to mimic any playing position. His hands are also rich in detail, with knuckles, viens, and palm lines sculpted into them.

    The LP record cover of GH's 'Living in the Material World' was used to insure his hands were correct to size.

    'George' has a few items in his coat pocket that relate to his namesake. Perhaps the most humourous is the bag of Earl Grey tea....



    :excited:
  17. kdking

    kdking Member

    WOW! What an amazing puppet!:excited:
    The quality of the workmanship on "George" reminds me very much of the marionettes that Gerry and Sylvia Anderson used on such shows as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet (albeit on a larger scale) Awesome!:D
  18. Thanks kdking. I appreciate your comments. I was not aware of 'The Thunderbirds' and that style of marionette until i noticed it kept being brought up in different places once folks saw 'George'. Now that i have seen some photos, i can now understand the comments!

    Here are some new photos of 'George' that i just had developed ( yeah..i use film!)

    These were taken this past Summer during the various video shoots i did with him.

    Enjoy!

    Anyone have any questions about him, or how he operates please don't be shy. I have no problem talking about anything you wish!

    Here are the pix-


    [​IMG]
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  19. Just bumping this thread up the list so those who may have missed it can catch it!

    :flirt:
  20. Another bump...as i would rather this not get lost in the shuffle...

    Latest update- there is some thoughts now about making a smaller sized figure of John Lennon. Something i have been considering for about a month, but at this point i am not absolutely sure if i will undertake the project.

    If i did, he would be similar to 'George' but at a much smaller scale. I have thought about it, and a part of me in interested but i am not fully committed to the project to date. I will admit it has been on my mind...and it would be a fun undertaking and a challange to try to capture John's unique and iconic appearence from his later solo period.

    Something to think about....as i would love to have him perform 'Nowhere Man' and some solo works.


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