Joel has been working on this but has told me that the amount of work it takes to make existing puppets blink will still be in the thousands. It requires fiber-glassing a skull, creating customized eyeballs and lids and making custom fit actuators for each character and hand shape... Obviously this high cost is only working for some of our biggest full time performers.
A new approach we are experimenting with is to make a standard set of blinking eyes that we will build new characters around. This standard approach will hopefully reduce the cost of installing and simplify the mechs needed.
I am hoping to release the first character November 1st. We'll see how the R&D goes! Thanks for asking.
Re: Blinking Eye Puppets
August 27 2011, 10:33 AM
Any chance of creating a more built-in alternate, using the flexible latex in the brow areas, similar to what we've seen in the Bongo Gorilla expression trick? Or puppets with hairy brows like Sesame Street's Oscar, where a simpler mechanism can be employed? Granted, the eye movement would be more limited.
Yes many different options are being explored like just surprise eyes (without full blink) or surprise brow like my Munch Monster puppet will have.
The easier way to control fully blinking lids and moving eyes is to use an external cable mechanism like 99% of all the animated puppets out there. It's great if you are performing on TV or behind a puppet stage.... However for many of our customers who are ventriloquists they are wanting the control to be in the head, so their other hand is free. That is MUCH more difficult with just mechanisms.
Radio controlled servos add noise, cost and the need for an extra RC puppeteer, still not a great solution for small shows and ventriloquists.
We still have quite a few tricks up our sleeve and I've developed a control that works external but is not seen by the audience. We are continuing to experiment.
Eyes we are doing now
August 27 2011, 10:49 AM
Here is a page of eyeballs that we have built and are building now...
Wow! Clever idea! And I like the smooth look of the eyelids. Here is a little routine that would get the kids yelling.
Vent: You know, Panda, many people ask me if you are real or if you are a puppet.
Puppet: I think I'm a real puppet.
Vent: Well, there is one way to tell. (to audience) You can tell a real panda by his eyes.
Puppet: I have eyes.
Vent: You see, a puppet can never blink his eyes. They just stare.
Vent: Which makes them really good at staring contests.
Puppet: I once beat a fish. (blinks)
Vent: But a real panda will blink. So they can't win the staring contest.
Puppet: That's interesting. (blinks)
Vent: So now they know whether you are real or not.
Puppet: I wish I could figure it out! (blinks and you finally see it)
Vent: (react to the blinking) I can't believe it! You ARE blinking!
Puppet: No I'm not. (blink)
Vent: What do you call that?
Puppet: I'm winking at two girls in the audience at the same time.