Web Series Watch: Dr. Puppet
Editor's note 01/20/2015: We welcome Daniel DeFabio back to Fanboy Planet with this first of a few articles he originally wrote for the now-defunct Geek Monthly. Thank you, Daniel, for offering these to us.
Doctor Puppet is as delightful and charming as anything you'll see online. These animated episodes use a Rankin-Bass style stop motion puppet technique you'll recognize from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.
There's a narrator but the Doctors and other characters never speak. This adds to their charm and emphasizes the expressiveness creator Alisa Stern can imbue with a pose.
Stern spends about one week animating each minute of 12 frames per second screen time. Then It can take another week or two to do all the digital effects for an episode. “All in all, animation often takes abut two months per episode,” Stern told us.
The bakery set from Episode 3 “Baker's Eleven” took her a month to build in her Brooklyn apartment.
“The hardest set we've built is probably the Fourth Doctor's TARDIS interior from Episode 6, which was built by Shelby Arnold and myself,” says Stern. “We wanted it to be as accurate as possible, so we watched a lot of Fourth Doctor episodes. Shelby even wired the rotor so the light would actually turn on and off. She did a brilliant job with it!”
So far eight out of twelve Doctors have appeared in the series of three minute episodes, with Matt Smith's 11th Doctor getting the lion's share of screen time. Stern admits the 11th is her favorite doctor followed by the 2nd (Patrick Troughton) and the 4th (Tom Baker).
Stern says it gives her a thrill when fans at cons recognize her puppet versions and a stand out moment occurred when "...a Doctor Who actor has met their puppet. That was Colin Baker at Dragon Con last year. Scott Ampleford, who narrates and composes the score for Doctor Puppet, approached him with the Sixth Doctor puppet. Colin was so kind and funny, and even grabbed the puppet away from Scott, shouting 'Mine! Mine!' I hope to introduce more actors to their puppets!”
Five episodes and two Christmas special are online now. Stern says “There are two episodes remaining in the Eleventh Doctor's story arc. Hopefully they will be completed this year. We'd also love to make more Twelfth Doctor videos!” And then what? “After Doctor Puppet I would love to produce a completely original stop motion series, probably still sci-fi,” says Stern.