“There is basically this tool that is used by the artists to simulate the vocal cords, you just put some duct tape on the end of it,” he says. “It works pretty well. I can get a lot of different vocal effects in there from a couple to a few dozen. The trickiest part is actually finding the voice for the dummy. It’s very difficult, because I can turn on a voice, and I just turn off the vocal. I have only one character who uses the vocal cords as a vocal instrument, and there isn’t actually any vocal effect. And they just do really really slow stuff, so I have to do a lot of trial and error to come up with some realistic-sounding lines.
“Another trick that I use a lot is to make the dummy a little shorter than the length of the vocal cords. Then they kind of have a ‘hair’ on the end of the vocal cords and a bunch of little teeth, so if you want a more exaggerated version of it, just extend the hair of the dummy so it’s long. It kind of plays with the idea that sometimes a fake is funnier than a fake that’s real. It’s like in a sketch, you have a really long, fake sketch, and then you’ve got a live version, where they’ve actually gotten it down to the point or where it should be. You can’t really get as close to anything as you can on the live, but the distance that they have to make the dummy to get it to really sing is definitely more authentic.”
And what about the puppet?
“We do our best to make it sound as human as possible,” says Wieselfeld. “We use a lot of sound effects because we want the dummy to sound like the vocalists that are singing it, but not make it that way. The dummy is really heavy, so we want there to be things underneath it that we can get to and not make it sound like a human is singing. And some of these little effects that are kind of subtle we kind of pick up on while creating the voice.”
The puppet was the first piece of animation to be created by this team and was a major influence on the rest of the movie (the rest of the puppetry was built by other teams). Is he one of the few puppeteers in history who was responsible for every movement from beginning to end of every scene?
“That was his job, that was his vision,” says W
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