Friday, 22 November 2013

Return to the Planet of the Japes

All I can show of the secret project, so don't even go there...
We have been on a hiatus as Martin (the humour brain behind this project) has been looking after his new born baby boy. In the intervening months I have been creating images for calendars and trimming down some of our old notes into manageable skits and snippets to film while I await his return.

 I also had an opportunity to make two new puppets for another project that I'm not allowed to talk about here. (dun-dun daaa) I could tell you but I'd have to hunt each one of you down and kill you, but quite frankly, who's got time for that.

Having some spare time, I looked back on the existing videos we had made and it has become apparent that they are a little too long. If we had our time again, I think we would split the scenes into separate sketches and have them as a series instead. But, you live and learn! What else have we been up to? Err, Oh yeah! We also spent a day out and about in Norwich, visiting some temporary Gorilla artworks that interacted with us on Twitter which was fun... Who knew Gorillas could tweet!

GoGoGorilla outside the Playhouse in Norwich!
We have been digging Movember again this year - our video still attracts visitors which is brilliant, and we have a total of 5729 views now which is also amazing! So a big thank you to everyone who is watching despite the lack of any new content!! Hopefully we are back up and running with some more individuals projects (John's Shed, and Chris' Fan Bag which is new) and the return of some old friends too. Thanks for watching, and we will be back picking up where we left off soon - :D

Show me the Way to 'Mo' Home - The Booze Bro Band of Puppets.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Gigs in Space Vol 1

As I have mentioned before, I find set building almost as much fun as performing the puppets. I also try to spend as little money as possible because, quite frankly, I don't have a lot of it, and I'm cheap!! Collecting boxes, old packaging, kitchen roll tubes, lids and assorted left overs for a few months, I had some interesting stuff.

One man's junk is another man's potential Spaceship!

We always knew we would write an episode in space, and I really wanted to make a space station style set. Being a child of the 70's and 80's most of our TV viewing was made of space rockets. From Star Fleet and Terrahawks through Pigs In Space, right up to Star Wars and Red Dwarf. I wanted a turn at doing it! For the last episode of this Season 1 of our puppet writing, Martin put together a script that required John to build a shuttle in his shed allowing Mark and Chris to zoom into space for a trip out.

Same junk sprayed up with extra stuff.

It would require a cockpit set for the two guys. A control panel for John in his shed and then an international space station set for a broadcasting conversation with another character. Plenty to do, and I had a garage full of odds and ends to make that happen. Armed with my trusty glue gun, I took a polystyrene panel that was protecting my delivered fridge and began sticking stuff together.

Outside window one - or should that be 2001!

The more tubes and jar lids I glued on, the better it looked. Other gems were mobile phone box packing, and a box of old broken plumbing clips and I can't extoll the virtues of chocolate mousse pots enough! I sprayed them all with a cheap grey primer from my local DIY store and the results were better than I had hoped.

Reverse side of the window for inside.

Due to the slightly different angles I wanted to shoot from, I would need some walls as well for the spaceship. I found a sheet of plywood and sunk an old drum rim into it to create a round window. I finished that off with some more kitchen roll tubing and a few phone carton boxes. Once it was sprayed grey, it was double sided and could be used for several shots.

Rough setup for shooting in Space - where no one can her you scream apparently.

Lastly all I would need was the control panel inside the ship which will be made from more boxes and polystyrene from the fridge packaging. Once I painted a few buttons (or the upside down chocolate box insert) in place the final piece would be done.  Back to the garage to keep building!!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Shameless Booze Puppet Promotion and Products!

Booze Band Boys behind the 12 Bar Blues....

Due to either my artistic nature, or my ultimate overall cheapness, I found myself using the puppets to make gifts. The Christmas just gone, I wanted to make puppet based presents to thank everyone in the band for participating and making it all happen.

Simple staging for the odd month here and there.
 I toyed with the idea of making individual Christmas cards with their puppet on, all the way up to a mug with their own character on. Having done a bit of looking on the web, making 'one off' designs of anything would not be a cheap option. I needed to scale it back. I had a lot of set photos of the puppets, along with a couple of staged pictures I was going to use on our Facebook page. What could I make that would be useful, something everyone would want to keep, and also be a constant reminder of the ongoing project? After a few moments of head scratching I opted for Year Calendars. Fairly cheap, and pretty useful!

 I would only need to get 12 images together and I could make sure that everyones puppet was featured the same amount of times. I went through my photo collection and picked out around 5 good shots, the rest I would have to plan and photograph as I went along. It was really good fun, I got to use the sets and dress them according to

Mug shot - side 1
the months I was using them for. Some were seasonally relevant (Christmas, January Snow, Halloween) others were just scattered with scenes from our filmed episodes. I only ordered 10 of the calendars and gave them out at the Band Christmas Meal, along with a Booze Band Puppet Postcard. Everyone was really chuffed, they came out better than I could have hoped. I have a sinking feeling that they are going to be expecting one every year now!!

Mug shot - side 2
Once I had the graphics made for the front cover of the calendar, it became really easy to adjust the image to fit on other products. I also managed to get a good deal on a set of tea mugs that we used to send out as promotional items and gifts for people who had helped us. I must say they all went pretty quickly!

Calender Cover that also doubled as a promotional postcard.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Instruments of Torture...

My Old Guitar, it HATES me apparently...
Due to tripping over it one too many times in the last few months, I have been trying to re-learn to play my old guitar this week. Three blisters and a sore throat form screaming in anger at my now useless fingers, brings me to think of the miniature band instruments I made for the puppets.

The first guitar I made was for Mikes puppet, he also has a telecaster shaped guitar similar to mine - but his is an actual Fender, not a knock off cheap one like I have! The shape is fairly easy to recognize and after searching through many toy stores looking for suitable axes, I came to the conclusion I was going to have to make them. Nothing was the correct scale or dimension for the puppets arms, and alot of kids toys are quite heavy which would have caused plenty of problems with performing.

Axe wielding with round safety corners.
I decided that thick balsa wood was going to be my best bet - easy to work with, lightweight and best of all - quite cheap. I took a photo of my guitar head on, and traced the outline of it in Adobe Illustrator. I then measured the distance of the gap between the puppets arms and scaled the outline drawing to that size. All I had to do then was printout the outline, cut and stick it onto the balsa wood as a template to work too.
Three heads are better than one! :D

Once I had the basic wooden guitar shape, I got some coloured card and stuck brown fret boards onto the guitar necks along with some more card for a scratchplate on each instrument. As a finishing touch I used some tin foil glued on for pickups and knobs, I left off strings on purpose as I felt they would get in the way when we played them. On my travels I saw some silver beads in a craft shop and thought they would make excellent machine head tuning pegs.  I simply nailed them on using the pre-drilled holes in the beads and I really like the finished result. Martin's bass guitar was made in exactly the same way, but I sprayed his the correct colour to match his real guitar.

For the drum kit, I was preparing to have to build the whole thing myself. In an uncharacteristic stroke of luck, I found a childrens drum kit on Ebay that couldn't have been any more perfect if I'd tried!
Sometimes, it just does itself. Thank You Lebao!

All that I needed to do was add some black card to hide the performers arm, and then add the logo on the bass drum. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
The saxophone was another easy fix. I found a childs toy and hacked about an inch and a half out of the middle, re-glued and sprayed it all gold. All the instruments were done, and the first time they all appear properly is in our Lookin For a Fox video.
Banjo-tastic. Good for Irish and hillbilly in equal measure.

The banjo that John and Tim's puppet use was another build from a plaster filler pot lid on a balsa wood backing. Once the silver paint had dried I cut a circle of white out of an old polystyrene tile I had left from the kitchen set and stuck it on as the skin.

The silver parts and the head stock tuning pegs are the same technique as the guitars, so all my musical instrument have the same 'house style' look to them.

It appears that John also wants his puppet to play the fiddle, as he does in the real band.
We have a few recordings of him 'fiddling' that we want to make into videos... So it looks like I'm gonna have to make a fiddle next!!

John & John.. Soon to be fiddling on a channel near you!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Puppets make the local press!! :D

The Booze Brothers Band playing at Worstead Festival 25.07.2010

As Phineas T. Barnum once said," There's no such thing as bad publicity." I think that depends entirely on how good the pics of you are! During our travels as a members of the Booze Brothers Band, we have done many a gig in and around the North Norfolk area, and more people than we think recognize us from over the years. One of the more prominent recurring gigs we have done is for the Worstead Festival Committee. Their yearly festival always has live music, and we have been fortunate enough to play there many times over the last 10 years. We met a Journalist and Editor from Worstead called Gay Webster, who was interested in doing an editorial on our band for the local magazine

Puppets pic courtesy of Sam Meyer and Just Regional Magazine

Gay had seen us play a few times at the festival and emailed me one day after seeing our puppets online. She asked if she could write a piece about us as a Band AND our puppets. We weren't quick enough to think of a decent reason why not, so she sent me some questions and arranged for a local photographer, Sam Meyer to come to one of our rehearsals. At the time we managed to get a free room to rehearse in at the back of the Worstead pub that was being renovated, that's why there are paint tins and such kicking around in the background!

Me and, errr, well... Me!

To begin with I was told we were going to be the subject of a small article, but after Sam's photos came back to Gay at the magazine, she decided to make it a cover feature as well! Not only that, we were to be featured in two different publications, The North Walsham edition (page 6-7) and the Sprowston magazine! Fame at last! ha-ha.

Puppets pic courtesy of Sam Meyer and Just Regional Magazine

To read the article, follow this link, (page 6-7) unless you were fortunate enough to get a free copy pushed through you door. If you were one of those lucky people, then I suggest you find something else to read for the next few minutes! (or maybe go here and watch some of our videos) Hopefully this will bring more people to subscribe to our YouTube channel, the blog, our Twitter and Facebook pages and be able to keep up to date with our puppet world and watch our clips!

Puppet pic courtesy of Sam Meyer and Just Regional Magazine

Next Week, we will either going into space or getting our Swing on...! Or maybe a guest blogger again,who knows!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

#St.PatricksDay next week, So it is Booze Boys...

Tim Wilson, entertainer extraordinaire
Way back in the early days of the Booze Brothers Band history, Tim Wilson (guitars) was a driving force of music and a bit of a drinking mascot for us all. His departure to Canada was a sad day for everyone in the band, and his farewell gig at Sutton Staithe was a bonafide classic. Tim was (and still is) an excellent musician. At the time he was in our band, he was also involved in several other musical enterprises, some of which gigged and others didn't.

Tim & Chris Wilson, original Booze Brothers acting up.

There was the Mighty FFR. (A pub punk band named after a 'Freshly Filled Rolls' sign in a local bar). There were occasional shows of his original songs, in the band Weevil, that had a handful of gigs here and there as well. The one interest Tim did have, that didn't quite seem to get out of the planning stage, was he wanted a big band of musicians to just meet in a pub and play Irish music. When he suggested it, we all thought this would be a splendid idea. The only minor glitch in this otherwise flawless plan, was that only Tim really knew any Irish songs! He had got into playing the banjo, and with a bit more time, I reckon we could have got the concept to work for us. He had even chosen the silliest Band name ever - Blimey O'Trousers.

New Pub set, old ideas for St. Patrick's Day
This had always made Martin chuckle, and we felt we could at least use the idea to make a video clip. At his farewell do, Tim proved himself to be a really entertaining front man with a great version of an old Irish tune 'The Rooster Song'. We were lucky enough to have set up the video camera on the day and I found the lost footage a few months ago. Having spoken to him since, he doesn't remember doing it, as we were all fairly plastered! The audio quality was quite poor though, but it's best we had. Having done a poem for Burns Night, we felt it would only be right to use the Rooster song recording for St. Patricks Day. In the brief time Tim was back in the country visiting family over Christmas, we collared him to record a few opening lines with his Brother Chris and the rest really just did itself.

On set with Tim, no superstar strop issues.
I was in the middle of the Pub Set rebuild, so it gave me a chance to try it out. I decorated the new Pub with Patrick's Day trinkets I got from Ebay, a few garlands and flags and just went for it. I cracked up more times than was necessary, but I finished it. Trying to mime along to the recording was really difficult as he didn't really sing the correct words and kept randomly talking to the audience.

The wife said, Honey - get that crap off the coffee table.
To cover the worst of my mistakes, I made a few cut outs of the animals to act out the song as a segway but Tim didn't sing the right verses in any kind of correct order, so it's a touch anarchic!
My monitor screen and the actual gig footage to mime to...
All that remains to be said, is it was all in good fun, so have a drink and enjoy St Patricks Day on the 17th March everyone!

Happy St Patrick's Day to everyone!!

Honey, we're loosing Money ooooh yeaaahhh......

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Day at the Races - Behind the Scenes.

Betting on donkeys... should have come on dog racing night!
In Episode 5 the lads from the band resort to petty gambling to solve their money problems and find themselves at a Horse racing track. Once again, script writing needed another set to be made. How was I going to build a Racecourse!? I dragged my feet for a long time with this idea, and I had a few trial goes with green screen and a garage window that could have looked like a betting office, but it just didn't look right. So, I resorted to what I always do when I'm stuck; I started fussing over detail instead.

Love this poster, it's all over the place were I live.

I was thinking about what pictures I could put on walls to make it look like a track and I remembered seeing the same poster in and around where I live for years and years. It advertises the Horse and the Dog racing in Gt Yarmouth Stadium and it's bright and colourful. I went out and took a picture of one, printed it out the size I wanted and instantly felt this was the best way to illustrate the set. Meanwhile, Martin had built a sound effect loop of people bustling around outside with a few 'horse whinnies' added for good luck. That sounded really good, so he suggested we shoot it outside to be in keeping with the audio. The only space I had outside at my house was along a fence to the side of my garden. We printed out a couple more quick horse race looking posters and I staple-gunned them to the fence. The effect was much better than either of us had hoped and the audio really helped to set the atmosphere.
Ruining the illusion.. no horses anywhere!
The only down side was that kneeling on concrete during a cold Sunday in February, was not a barrel of laughs. Although Martin nearly falling through a fence panel during one shot was a particular highlight!

The Fifth had been a really fun episode to film, as we had got hold of a new piece of equipment that was proving invaluable - a separate monitor screen! Martin's Father in Law, Roy, had given it to us from the cab of his truck. Once Martin had set it up, it solved almost all of our filming issues. The camera only has a playback screen mounted on the left hand side, so if you are on the other side it's impossible to see what the camera is picking up. This small TV screen can be set up on the floor by our scripts and we can both see exactly what we are recording… If only we had had it sooner!*

Great bit of kit, it even flips the image for ease of use! Genius...
*NB. We had had it sooner, it was laying in Martins roof for months. haha.