During the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020 I began working on a short live action puppetry film as part of my studies. I developed the story and designed puppets and miniature sets. It quickly became a labour of love and very much is a work in progress still. the sense of real motion in real time proved to be an exciting and challenging way of telling a story.
The Erpel story follows Geraldine Erpel, a widowed crane bird on her journey to the moon in a rocket that she and her late husband built. In an effort to preempt "NOSA" (National Ornithological Space Agency) a race against time begins to set their foot on the moon first before NOSA does. The name Erpel is German for "male Duck" and is based on "Villa Arpel", a film exterior set used in Jacques Tati's "Mon Oncle" (1958).
Erpel Mansion:
This model is used for the exterior shots of the Erpel mansion. It has got several animated blinds which open and close and reveal interior decorations behind it.

Materials used: Bookbinder Card, PVC pipe, Buttons, Perspex, LED string Lights, plastic packaging, acrylic paints, moss, twigs and Branches.
Film still of video footage of Erpel Mansion
Filming Set up
Erpel underground Workshop
This is a workshop interior set I made in order to illustrate the building process of the rocket. It has got moving parts to it, in order to show the workings of launching the rocket from the workshop into space. 
Materials used: wooden museum display case, bookbinder card. Cappa board, sheet laminate, wire, stones, plug in LED string lights, wood veneer, wallpaper, dried plant roots, buttons, pins and model kit parts, plastic tubing, tracing paper. 
Initial sketch
Initial sketch
miniature technical drawings
miniature technical drawings
museum display case gets covered in card
museum display case gets covered in card
Erpel 1 Rocket
This model is used for naturalistic exterior space scenes as well as launch and landing of the rocket. It has got integrated lights for illuminating the cockpit as well as the engine. This is for enabling filmed visual effects to be added later on.

Materials used: plastic bottle (base), door handle, bendable pipe, wire springs, plastic straws, hooks, plastic lid, carabiner, LED string lights, bicycle light bulb and holder, wristwatch
Erpel 1 Cockpit 
The interior space of the rocket is animated with rod puppets. There are various animated part's and mechanisms which turn and blink during the performance.
Materials used: Bookbinder card, wire, rubber seal, fabric, Brass greeblies, pins, resistors, model kit parts, spray paint, sheet laminate, plastic beads, LED string lights, plastic tubing
Erpel in the cockpit
Materials used: polystyrene ball, wire, mountboard, masking tape, duck tape, paper straw, electrical resistors, beads.
Train Compartment
in the prologue of the film the Erpel couple is seen sitting in a train carriage at night, discussing the grand plan of building the rocket. The scenery is mounted on a roll and gets animated by hand. 
Materials used: bookbinder card. wood veneer, brass rods, perspex, kitchen sponge, acrylic paint, upholstery fabric, plastic pipes, tailoring fabric

You may also like

Back to Top