From Small-Scale to Large-Scale

For the past three years I've worked as a puppet fabricator for Michael Curry Design just north of Portland, Oregon. Although stop-motion has been my primary puppet passion for many years, building large-scale puppets, costumes and visual effects has been an absolutely incredible experience. The puppets I work on now can be seen all over the world; on stage, in theme parks, and featured in many opening & closing athletic ceremonies. I'm humbled by this new work I get to create, the team of incredible artists I work with, and by HOW MUCH I've learned about fabrication in just three years. Take a look at some of the most recent work I've been a part of...


Frozen on Broadway

At MCD, we create two puppets for Disney's Frozen, now open on Broadway. Our Sven puppet is unique because the actors perform with stilts on their legs AND arms to transform into this cute quadruped. They perform for about 40 minutes on stage using only their own body strength to make Sven come alive! Incredible. The New York Times article, "The Secret Life of Sven," gives really great insight into how we build the puppet as well as how he is performed. The article also has a lot wonderful photos! Give it a read here: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/26/theater/frozen-sven-reindeer-broadway.html

 "Supporting characters get their moments, too: Jelani Alladin, left, as Kristoff and Andrew Pirozzi as the reindeer Sven." Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

"Supporting characters get their moments, too: Jelani Alladin, left, as Kristoff and Andrew Pirozzi as the reindeer Sven." Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

As part of the Crafts Department at MCD, I create the front and rear feet for Sven. The front feet are built on 11-inch stilts, which the performer wears on his hands (image below). The front stilts also contain finger-pull triggers for eye-blink and ear wiggles. Talk about coordination! The back feet are built on 5-inch custom curved steel stilts. I sculpt the hooves and hand-carve Scandinavian designs into them, then hand stitch fabric "fur" to each foot. The performer does not touch the ground with his own body during his performance. Well, except for the scene in which he lays down and gets back up - an incredible feat (feet?) in this costume! ;)

 Photo: "The Secret Life of Sven," Michael Paulson, The New York Times.

Photo: "The Secret Life of Sven," Michael Paulson, The New York Times.

We also create the lovable character Olaf. Seen here with his performer Greg Hildreth, Olaf is manipulated from behind. The performer uses one hand to pull triggers in the head for talking and blinking, and the other hand to manipulate the arms. His feet are attached directly to the puppet, as performer and puppet become one. My favorite part is sculpting that carrot nose! A truly magical and impressive performance! Click the link below to read more about Greg and Olaf:

 https://nypost.com/2018/02/22/meet-the-guy-behind-olaf-in-broadways-frozen/

 "Greg Hildreth gives voice and movement to Olaf, the puppet he calls 'my new best friend.'" Credit: Michael Reidel/The New York Post, Entertainment.

"Greg Hildreth gives voice and movement to Olaf, the puppet he calls 'my new best friend.'" Credit: Michael Reidel/The New York Post, Entertainment.


Raptor Encounter at Universal Studios

I have loved the Jurassic franchise since the original film premiered in 1993. I was 10 and dinosaurs were the coolest. They still are! MCD has been making raptors for a long time, and they can be found at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California, Orlando, Florida and Universal Singapore. I've been building raptors since I started at MCD three years ago, as if my ten year old self willed it to be! They are very intricate puppets with eye blinks, sound effects and those infamous deadly claws. Each year we improve our dinos with the release of the newest film, and this year we focused on Blue. She is the star of the Jurassic World films, and my favorite version of our raptor costumes. She is beautiful and terrifying! Visit her at all three parks, and read a little more about Blue here:

 http://www.insideuniversal.net/2018/06/blue-the-raptor-debuts-at-universal-orlando-and-universal-studios-hollywood/

blue_1.jpg
blue_2.jpg
 All photos: Universal Studios

All photos: Universal Studios