In this video, we use a robotic character (named “Drone Boy”) in a sequence of simple hand gestures. We then use that simple gesture to move our hand down to grab on to the puppet’s puppet arms, and then to pull on the puppets’ arms to put them in the right position to be able to move their mouth. (Note that this video and another by Tim Kelleher are two ways we can manipulate our puppets to make them talk!)
But how does one talk in a video? What is speech, anyway? A puppet or any other animate body has to be able to move its body in a certain way (usually using muscles) and to respond to a certain response. And the way to think about that movement and respond to the response is called speech. There is a lot more that goes into it than just the puppets doing the same motions. A puppet is not a person. It can talk, it is not very clever.
Speech sounds are different than actions. Actions have to be performed, things have to happen. In speech, there’s a lot more happening, there’s a lot that goes on before you make the action, before you make that speech. To make a simple robot move and respond to a particular sound, you use the movement and response of the puppet to move its mouth – and to respond to that movement you use the movement and response of a human puppeteer. The sound and movement of the puppets, and the puppeteer, are both part of that movement, an act of speech; a part of what makes a puppet articulate, and respond to a sound.
The problem for us with the puppets is that the robot moves too slowly or stops after a certain amount of time. The speed of the robot is also a problem because that robot is not talking – it’s not making a speech. So we have to find something else (or maybe a better way, maybe a more efficient way to achieve our goal) to do. To make the robot talk we have to move our hand slowly, over a certain time period, so that the robot can respond to the sound. To make the robot move smoothly we have to turn the motion into a motion that is smooth, slow, and controlled, with the puppet moving, in a controlled manner. We have to make the puppet move a certain way so that it feels comfortable and sounds like it’s moving.
One very common form of speech control is with sounds. Sounds are
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