So Jeroen, tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m a director and animator and create stop-motion puppets together with Lorenzo. I have a small studio in Amsterdam where we create all sorts of stop-motion stuff. I went to the art academy in Groningen and started doing 3D animation in the 90s. I soon discovered that I didn’t want to be stuck behind the computer all day and decided to dive into creating actual puppets with my hands.
What makes those puppets so special?
From start to end, all is done by hand. Because the camera is really close (5cm) when filming, the puppets shouldn’t look like they’re made by hand. But they also shouldn’t look too smooth. People will think they’re computer animated. All of that is quite a challenge. Usually a puppet is about 25-30cm tall, but I think it’s fun when people can’t see what size the puppet is.
How many puppets did you guys make?
That’s a difficult one. A lot! I guess over a hundred. Not everything survived the shoots though. Back in the days the puppets where made out of more fragile material. They were easily broken or damaged by the lighting. Nowadays we use better material that can handle way more.
All of the puppets are carefully detailed. Where do you get all that stuff?
Wow, from all over the world. All the joints and sockets come from Bristol. The rubber and silicone from Amsterdam. Many fabrics we use are shipped over from China. But I also like to stroll from market to market to see what new fabrics they have. Like the Albert Cuyp. As well as the biggest fabric wholesale of The Netherlands. The paint comes from basically everywhere.
How long does it take to make a puppet?
On average it takes about a month to create one. From design to making the head and its expressions. We now use 3D printing to print mouth expressions. One puppet can have about 75 different mouths. The more it has to be able to do, the longer it takes.
Is there a puppet that you’re most proud of?
We’re working on that right now. It’s an astronaut with my own face. It took about 4 months to make and we’re using it to create promotional teasers and bumpers. It will kind of be a character that will represent our studio.
We all like to dream big. What’s your biggest dream?
I’d love to go more into the direction of making big movies and doing own productions. Actually, we’re getting started on that right now. We’re talking to do an animation project for a movie in the USA. We’re planning to shoot this summer. With real actors and one stop-motion character in it that we’re going to create! I hope this will be the start of more cool projects like that.
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