We’re down to six contestants this week. As they meet with Brian and Gigi in the shop, the question we should all be asking ourselves is “Two teams of three, or three teams of two?” As we ponder this, this week’s Shop Master, John Criswell walks in a life-sized black unicorn puppet. Gigi tells us this puppet is from Lady Gaga’s last tour, and they borrowed it back to show for this challenge.
Brian explains: this week the three-day challenge is to make a large-scale puppet whose life-likeness is in how it moves. After all, this unicorn isn’t really believable standing still. But when it starts walking, it becomes a living creature. Even though you can see the puppeteers on the unicorn. The designers this week aren’t trying to hide their puppeteers either. But the creatures will be covered in UV paint so it will glow in the dark and the puppeteers won’t. (The black velour curtains magically falling when Brian says that–followed by a loud verbal cue behind him–is hilarious.)
Oh and the answer is Three Teams of Two:
- Lex & Jake
- Ben & Melissa
- Robert & Russ
New twist: the puppeteers show up to be part of the design process before sketching even starts. These puppeteers are fabulous mentors for the designers to talk to about how large scale puppeting should work. (It’s also great to see mentoring happening earlier in the design process after last week.)
Lex and Jake are worried because they’re not foam fabricators, so they feel a bit of a loss as they head into their dinosaur lizard. Jake sculpts things in clay because he figures it will be faster than struggling to carve foam. Meanwhile the other two teams are both making birds. Ben is also letting two wins in a row get to his head and he’s not listening to Melissa’s ideas at all. Russ and Robert seem to be working quite well together, which is a nice change for any team Russ has been in so far.
Criswell’s mentoring session happens on Day Two.
- Russ&Robert: Robert’s already got the bird head put together and blinking and moving. Criswell is very impressed.
- Ben&Melissa: Criswell does not like the neck Melissa did, which at this point is the only thing she’s been allowed to work on so far. He frowns at Ben’s hubris on his complicated wing design.
- Jake&Lex: Criswell sees the polyfoam and the sculpting Jake did and shakes his head. This week is about movement. Criswell calls him out that the bulk of what the judges will be looking at has fallen to Lex.
All in all, I am quite pleased with Criswell’s mentoring. His pushing gets Jake to stop with the sculpting and make with the PVC gluing for legs. Over in the race for bird supremacy, Russ and Robert are way ahead and already in the paint room.
Day Three and the puppeteers show up for rehearsal, since teaching these guys how to puppeteer large scale needs more than an hour right before showtime. This is when we learn Ben’s wings just don’t work. They just don’t. They have to completely redesign them, which is when Melissa steps up and takes charge. Russ and Robert are in the best position of all three teams. Lex and Jake end up making the hard choices in order to make sure they have a finished creature with paint on it by the end of the day.
Let’s see these guys walk.