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Tara Ariano

Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

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I like the host.  I've seen her a few times at conventions.  She's very nice and fun.  I'm not sure what kind of personality you ought to have when you only have a few lines introducing people.  She doesn't really have much to work with. 

The Farscape connection, two of the main characters on the show were Henson Puppets.  Pilot and Rigel.  They were terrific and integral to the story.

I wish that Russ had been removed.  I was willing to give him a break having to work with Tina, however, he just doesn't seem happy no matter what he's doing.

And I can speak from experience that there's not much going on in Minot North Dakota.  Except for maybe major flooding and Mall Shopping.  (Been there many times, my In-Laws live in North Dakota.  My husband was born in Minot as was the actor Josh Duhamel.)

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Taeolas, I hope you're right that Josh got a better offer, because otherwise that was insane. What kind of career in this field is he ever going to have in MINOT? Furthermore, I bet his family would have been pretty psyched to move to Los Angeles from MINOT.

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This is the kind of situation where I wonder what was really happening with the contestant. He mentioned being tired early in the show, and maybe he just didn't want to work so hard. 

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Looking at his bio, Josh is apparently a graphic designer for a casino and does some costuming/prop building on the side. I'm wondering if he found the reality of doing this type of fabrication full-time (especially at a quick pace) less appealing than the fantasy and just didn't want to say so.

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And I can speak from experience that there's not much going on in Minot North Dakota.  Except for maybe major flooding and Mall Shopping.  (Been there many times, my In-Laws live in North Dakota.  My husband was born in Minot as was the actor Josh Duhamel.

My dad grew up on a farm about 200 miles away from Minot and I was wondering too - what can Josh be working on there, even as a hobby? Haunted houses?

Looking at his bio, Josh is apparently a graphic designer for a casino and does some costuming/prop building on the side. I'm wondering if he found the reality of doing this type of fabrication full-time (especially at a quick pace) less appealing than the fantasy and just didn't want to say so.

I don't belileve the pace is this crazy fast in the non-reality-television -competition world.  I guess it's other things for him -  too bad, I liked him and his work.  The big rat this week seemed to me like the clear winner and I was expecting him to be a contender for the win.  Although he seems young to have an eleven year old kid - he must be older than I thought.

My initial favorite was the little rat driving the big scrap-metal monster - but it looked worse the more stuff they glued on it.  Maybe it was too much orange blending into too much background orange?  I loved the movement of the little puppet, but found it hard to distinguish his head.  Still was glad that Ben won - and boy did Ivonne looked PISSED when he did.

Edited by ratgirlagogo

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Furthermore, I bet his family would have been pretty psyched to move to Los Angeles from MINOT.

That's not fair. Perhaps YOU find nothing to entice you to Minot. Perhaps you would trade your current city for LA. There are lots of people who wouldn't move to LA for anything. A person with a large family structure in Minot, and/or a lifetime of memories tied to the area, might not find LA to be of any interest at all.
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They all ended up looking fairly terrible.  Partly because they aren't that good at puppeteering, and this challenge required a lot of good puppeteering to look right, instead of looking like randomly flailing arms.

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There are lots of people who wouldn't move to LA for anything.

Even during a Minot February?! (Of course I know that's true. I have family in Regina who still live there for the reasons you said. I wasn't really being serious about that. The part about Josh's career is still true, though.)

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There are lots of people who wouldn't move to LA for anything

**raises hand**

Me for one - I grew up there and New YORK is where I'd RATHER stay.  I don't have any problem seeing the appeal of MInot, I just don't see how much creature fabrication he's going to do there.  Casinos? Is he building  animatronic robot characters  there?  Don't understand what he would be doing.  My remark about the haunted houses was serious - that's a huge business and many contestants on Face Off come out of that scene.

Edited by ratgirlagogo

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Dear Russ:  If you've been on the bottom three out of three times and hate the feeling, perhaps it's time to examine the common denominator in that equation.

I hope Melissa and Robert's friendship isn't just a side effect of being trapped in a reality-show fishbowl together.  They seem to really like working together, and as with Face Off contestants who don't constantly have knives out for each other is really the most appealing part.

Which is why Russ bothers me so much, because he has such a bad attitude.  I get that Tina was annoying and it probably would have been exhausting to be around her, but I could deal with that much easier than him.

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I don't have any problem seeing the appeal of MInot, I just don't see how much creature fabrication he's going to do there.  Casinos? Is he building  animatronic robot characters  there?  Don't understand what he would be doing.  

He works as a graphic designer, per his bio on the Syfy website. He's been doing fabrication stuff on the side. I think he just realized that he doesn't want an actual career as a creature fabricator. Some people find that turning a hobby into a full-time career drains their passion for it. 

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He works as a graphic designer, per his bio on the Syfy website. He's been doing fabrication stuff on the side. I think he just realized that he doesn't want an actual career as a creature fabricator. Some people find that turning a hobby into a full-time career drains their passion for it. 

This makes loads of sense. A friend of mine started college as an art major, decided she didn't want to make art to please other people, dropped out, and returned a year later with a different major. She's now an economist and is very happy painting on the weekends. So kudos to Josh for figuring this out. I just wish he'd have waited until after the odious Russ was eliminated.

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Russ is definitely a does not play well with others type of guy. I'm ready for the them to have a solo challenge just so he not longer has an excuse for landing in the bottom. Josh seems like a nice guy and all, but he is another one of the reality tv personalities that grates. Why sign up for a competition where the prize is something you know you don't want? Somewhere there's another person who's just as hungry who didn't make the cut because Josh got that slot and now it's gone.

As for Gigi as host, she really doesn't bother me. She's certainly not the worst host I've ever seen. Kate Lee Joel still holds that honor.

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I don't belileve the pace is this crazy fast in the non-reality-television -competition world.  I guess it's other things for him -  too bad, I liked him and his work.  The big rat this week seemed to me like the clear winner and I was expecting him to be a contender for the win.  Although he seems young to have an eleven year old kid - he must be older than I thought.

His bio says he's only 27, so they started having kids young. That might also be part of the reason he left. If he was 16 when his first kid was born, that probably prohibited him from doing a lot of exploring/traveling/being away from home. Maybe the competition's intenseness combined with being out of his element was just too much. 

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I really enjoyed this episode - i thought the pacing was really good for a reality show. For once, it really felt like they were focusing on the parts that i found interesting - the sculpting was amazing, and i loved seeing the puppeteers before and during the screen test. The screen test was A LOT of fun!

But i think there was really only one creature where the eye seemed to move at all. I can totally understand why, given the time constraints and the number of contestants who seem to lack familiarity with the tech, but it's really remarkable what a long way eye movement goes to making a creature seem lifelike!

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I liked it, but I am not convinced that the scripts were written by the contestants. They were way too good!

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I thought the puppeteers were given personality and back story but not an actual script. Melissa said something about her puppeteer's adlibs when hers was performing. 

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Eh, I wouldn't have given it to the tree stump, to be honest. I loved the troll much more, and the minotaur had its size going for him. Good show, this week, though.

Edited by Kaoteek

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I think there must have been some sort of script based on the way each scene ended. With the log, Donald Faison knew exactly when to shout "Sleep!"

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What would have been really cheesy was sold by Donald Faison who was clearly having a lot of fun with it.

I'd have given the prize to Robert over the creepy serial-killer looking guy's tree, but I thought all of the top three deserved to be there.

I felt bad that Ivonne just had such an awful showing where nothing went right.  Because she's turned in better work than Russ, who clearly has way too high an opinion of his own work.

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I enjoyed this week's episode more than I have the previous ones.  Maybe because it displayed more performances , and  all of them were pretty funny, which doesn't always happen on these shows.  Faison was great.

It was weird how none of the women had much experience with the eyeballs and the various mechanical aspects.  I assume everyone got onto this show because they had some kind of background making these kind of creatures?  So did they just always work in teams before, in which somebody else took care of the robotics?  It  was disconcerting, as though I were watching Face Off and somehow none of the women had ever made a foam latex mask using a mold.

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The contestants have a bunch of different backgrounds. A lot of them have done foam fabrication and costumes without mechs. I kind of wish that Chaz had made it past the first week, as he did have a bunch of experience with the animatronic stuff. What I couldn't figure out, though, is whether the eye mechs were required or not. If they weren't an absolute requirement (and didn't seem to be, given how many didn't deliver), Ivonne could have just sewn the eyes of her creature shut and worked that into how it had died. Maybe stick a small servo in to still give some eyebrow-ish movement.

I really enjoyed Donald Faison's part in the screen tests. I'm hoping more of the screen tests use actors (or other creatures, or whatever else they can come up with).

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I finally caught up on this show last night, and I'm still not finding it as interesting as I'd hoped it would be, though this episode was much better than last week's.

The women's lack of experience with the mechanical elements was a bit distressing. I suspect that Melissa and Lex will be eliminated quickly.

I knew Ivonne was doomed the moment she selected a small head. That was something else that the men seemed to grasp better - you don't want something so big that the puppeteer is overwhelmed, but there needs to be internal space for both the mechanics and the puppeteer's hand. The designer also needs enough space to install and manipulate the mechanics during construction. Ivonne's was never going to work. 

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The contestants have a bunch of different backgrounds. A lot of them have done foam fabrication and costumes without mechs. I kind of wish that Chaz had made it past the first week, as he did have a bunch of experience with the animatronic stuff. What I couldn't figure out, though, is whether the eye mechs were required or not. If they weren't an absolute requirement (and didn't seem to be, given how many didn't deliver), Ivonne could have just sewn the eyes of her creature shut and worked that into how it had died. Maybe stick a small servo in to still give some eyebrow-ish movement.

I don't think eyes are required; but they are almost always taken as a given. Good eyes and especially good eye control will make the creature very expressive, which plays well with the judges. You can sometimes get away with hidden/slit eyes if the rest of the creature is flexible, but it's a harder sell. 

Anyone else get the feel that there was a lot more play between Donald and the creatures that didn't (or couldn't) make it to air? The ablibbing they were doing tread very close to the PG-13 line, though everyone had a blast. (And I loved it regardless, I just want/wish there was more! :) )

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Starri, I totally agree, and would go one further that Russ has an unrealistically elevated opinion of anything Russ :-)

 

I liked this week's episode.  I loved seeing how they prep a head for casting.  And the critiques were really well presented.  One thing I have to say is that, unlike many other reality competition shows, I believe that each and every judge does more to build up than tear down.   The critiques are well thought out, easily and respectfully delivered and if a smack down is needed, given directly and with the import they deamnd within their creature shop.  I really learn a lot about what I am seeing in any Henson creation - what all goes into it, how much thought is given to *all* details of the creature, and how much enjoyment they get when it's done well.  They show due respect and give honest praise. 

Really enjoying this.  Except for Russ.  He's an ass of the first waters and the sooner his pissy-moany-inflated-ego self leaves, the happier I will be.  And given all the smack he's talked, I'd like to see him go down in a ball of flames,  If course, Brian and the rest will do so with class.  Much more than Russ presents.

 

ETA:  Pardon my not finding the woman's name before entering this.  The woman who'd had the issue with the cranium being smaller than to allow her the use of both eyes, thus having to gut the back of the scull to fit both the eyes.  I was wondering why she didn't just use an eye patch or make it part of the story that her creature had lost in in the fight for its head.  She could have, instead of wasting a bunch of time (Ivonne was it) trying to fix the issue thus wasting a lot of time and ruining her project, found a way around it and kept the integrity of her project much more intact.  I agree that the judges may have dinged her on that, but what she could have gained by working around the issue - creatively - may have brought more respect than what she'd presented

Edited by Mz Anthrope
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That is a great idea, Mz Anthrope. Maybe she could have done something with lights, too. 

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The 60's hippie dude had little granny glasses, so they had optical choices available.  I agree that using a patch, or some sort of eyeglasses to cover up the eyes altogether could have been more effective.  It would have changed the backstory a little, but that's an easy adaption.  

I think the ladies were just a little too panicked to really think about alternatives.  They were completed focused on fixes instead.  That cost them precious time.   

The script lines & adlibs were humorous, but it looked to me like the contestants were AAAAAHHHH.DYING.WITH.LAUGHTER!  OMG, gut-busting! I can't breathe! *LOL*  A little too exaggerated for me.  But I also liked having a live actor work with the creatures. 

I'm still really enjoying the show, and as others have pointed out, the respect and kindness of everybody involved.  It's competition, but HEALTHY competition.  

Edited by leighdear
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The "60s hippie" looked like some terrible "opium den coolie" stereotype to me. I was annoyed the judges didn't bring it up.

That and the puppeteer's voice was too high and unexpected for the form, and not in a good way. I didn't have a problem with the look, but I felt it should've had more of a Keanu Reeves type voice instead of what we got; but there probably wasn't much that could be done with that.

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The "60s hippie" looked like some terrible "opium den coolie" stereotype to me. I was annoyed the judges didn't bring it up.

I kind of thought that criticism was strongly implied by one of the judges, even though he didn't say it outright.  

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I think they were required to have one mech aspect so couldn't have just scrapped the eyes altogether

Correct, but she'd said it was difficult to get *both* eyes into the mold without literally taking it apart.  My thought was that if she'd done one mechanized eye (and mechanized the crap out of it to help balance the loss of the other) and had the other patched or otherwise 'hidden' so that she could have not wasted so much time trying to put 'ten pound of potatoes into a five pound sack"

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I was just listening to Brian Henson on the Nerdist Podcast and if you're into this show I'd highly recommend it. There's a bit about an hour in where they start talking about the show and the distinction between "Creatures" (what Brian is looking for the Skektestants to make on the show) and "Puppets" which are apparently VERY different and, I mean he's right, I just hadn't ever thought about it. 

 

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I was disappointed to see Lex go, because she has done interesting work in the past.

Russ didn't annoy me this week. It's a freaking miracle.

I like Melissa a lot, but her need for validation is frustrating. Just work, girl.

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Was sorry to see Lex go as well. I thought a case coukd be made for the other guy since while Lex did design the worst aspect of the creature (the legs), she also designed the best (the tail.). The other guy's elements weren't as detrimental, but didn't really add anything either. However, between this and last week, I think Lex's skill set is probably too limited for this contest.

Liked the winning bird, but found the other bird underwhelming. It's too bad the legs were so horrible on the lizard, because if they were even somewhat realistic it might have been enough to edge out the safer and more boring lesser bird.

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After his comments last night on challenges he's faced with his creations (or at least the ones he worked on), I realized I didn't care (as much) for the show. I would love to sit and listen to him talk for hours on the tricks and little stories he's done over his career. (Like shipping Big Bird by First Class, or using suntan lotion to block Black light). 

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Also sad to see Lex go, but also agree that her limited mech skills were the cause. 

I love the use of the black lights.  It really made the paint jobs a critical part. 

The judges are SO great and supportive of everybody.  So nice to actually hear the judging comments and know they come from real concern for the contestants and the craft. 

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I was sad to see Lex go, especially considering she took the brunt of the construction on herself. I don't think she could have come close to winning, but it really seemed like Jake should have gone home. He didn't seem to contribute a whole lot to their creature.

 

At this point, I really don't see anyone challenging Robert. I think his weakest spot is foam construction, which (maybe incorrectly) doesn't seem as difficult to learn as the mech part of it.

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I would love to sit and listen to him talk for hours on the tricks and little stories he's done over his career. (Like shipping Big Bird by First Class, or using suntan lotion to block Black light). 

 

If you're interested in a lot of that stuff, there's a great biography of Jim Henson that was published last fall. There's a bit on Jim's personal life, but the vast majority is his career and there's a lot of technical info. Brian started working with his dad when he was 13 or 14, and he has a lot of stories in there. 

 

I actually think Brian's a bit wasted as a judge, in all honesty. I like him, but I'd much rather see him as a permanent mentor in the shop or something. He seems a lot more comfortable talking about that side of it, too.

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I think it's a shame that Lex went home, considering that the reason she failed is that she was basically doing EVERYTHING while Jake just sat there wasting his time on the head. If Jake had actually spent his time better and took on his share of the challenge, Lex wouldn't have been forced to do the work of 1.9 people and probably would have been far more successful. The lesson seems to be "Don't be the one who's willing to take on a challenge" because if you fail, you will be sent home.

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I guess he wants to remain head judge since whoever wins will be hired by his company, and he likely wants to retain control on that. But I agree -- he'd make a Michael Westmore caliber mentor to these artists. The way they always react to his tips just makes me wish he had time to offer more of them.

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I liked his tip about using sunblock to stop something from shining under UV light. I would have liked it even more if we had seen people having trouble with that on day three, then saw Brian stroll through and give the advice that saves everyone.

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I'd have given the challenge to Russ and Robert over Ben and Melissa, but that's just me.  I thought their bird was much more fun to watch, and while I know Brian Henson is the Grand Poobah, I agree with The Dude that the eyes worked better without the pupils.

I wasn't surprised to see Lex go, although my husband was rooting for her, and not he has to pick another one.

One thing that I thought was extremely funny was the undisguised look of pure disgust on Robert's face when he realized he'd been paired with Russ.

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Thank you, Lisin, for the podcast info and drmka9 for the book recommendation. This past episode, I was so enjoying Brian Henson's stories about the sunscreen and Big Bird that I paused to see if he had written a book. I'll definitely read the Jim Henson biography. I like this show, but I also would love a different type of show that allowed Henson to interact with artists working on projects.  

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I really am sorry to see Lex go.  I'd much rather Russ be booted.  And agreed - Jake did *very* little to help the project.  He should have been dinged, and that at least brought up to him, that his singular focus put a lot of responsibility on his team member where he really needed to be working on the entire project. 

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I'm finding it hard to find someone to root for! I'm not crazy about Russ, but other than that, they are all kind of meh. And I really don't like how they're dressing the host! Good grief, find her some pants that fit!

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