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Puppet Mouth Movements

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Froggy Fool, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. Froggy Fool

    Froggy Fool Well-Known Member

    So, a couple of years ago, I was in a puppet ministry at my former church, and of course, with there being people who had never even touched a puppet in their lives, the instructors (two nice old ladies), had to teach the newcomers the basics of puppetry.

    The first thing they started on was puppet mouth movements, or lip syncing. I don't know if they got this wrong or not, but they said that you were to NEVER move the top part of your hand, JUST the thumb, not even the tiniest bit.

    Now, with me being the puppetry nerd in the group, I raised my hand politely and basically said that I thought you were supposed to move the top just a little bit, to add some flexibility to the performance. Because the way they were doing it, the top of the mouth was so unflexible, the puppets looked like they were robots, and it didn't give off a believable performance at all.

    So my question is, should you move the top of the mouth just a little bit or keep it completely still? Sorry if this doesn't make any sense and mods feel free to delete this if it doesn't.:fishy::fishy:
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    The idea is to try to keep your four fingers and the top of the mouth as still as possible when lip syncing, because this is supposed to represent the top of the head, and when people talk, the top of their heads don't move, just their jaws, hence why you're really only supposed to move your thumb, which is in the puppet's jaw. Some puppeteer exercizes even suggest you do practice warm ups by bracing the backside of your four fingers underneath a table or desk and just move your thumb.

    However, I think you can't help but add a little bit of movement in your fingers and the top of the mouth based on how certain puppet mouths are built: if a puppet's mouth isn't hinged very well, it almost naturally opens and closes with too much movement in the top. Nevertheless, I can agree that moving the top just a little adds a little extra flexibility, but generally, you are supposed to try to keep your fingers as still as possible.
    Froggy Fool likes this.
  3. Froggy Fool

    Froggy Fool Well-Known Member

    What they were saying was not to put any movement on the top at all, which looked super unnatural. When I puppeteer, I generally move the top a bit. Also, keeping the top of the mouth still is almost impossible in characters that I have like Milligan, whose mouthplate is very flexible. Thanks for the tip about the warm up. :)

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