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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Star Struck with Sid

There aren’t a lot of regular moms like me who get the chance to see what goes into making her kids’ favorite shows. Especially an animated show at The Jim Henson Company! I giggle to think that I was one degree of separation away from some of my all-time favorite characters. Too cool! To say I was star struck by it all is a gross understatement.
When I walked on set, I entered a huge soundstage buzzing with activity (it happens to be the historic Charlie Chaplin soundstage). There are so many people who make this show possible. The body performers who play the characters are dressed in black jumpsuits with sensors. The puppeteers sit in special booths with sophisticated equipment that allows them to bring a character to life with voice and facial expressions. The camera operators sit in front of a zillion screens capturing the input from bazillions of tiny sensors and cameras on the set. Above the set on a platform, the computer folks work their magic to eventually turn it all into the images we see on our TV. A director stands over the script adjusting cues, lines, and positions. The assistant director gives the call to begin (among a million other things). And lots and lots of people were doing I can only guess what!
I was so very lucky to have Gerard, stage manager, as a guide through the entire process. He used language I could understand to explain what was happening. Here is what I came away with: the body performers have suits covered with sensors that capture signals from small cameras as the camera people shoot the scene.
The body performers move while the puppeteers create the voices and facial expressions for the characters. As the body performers and puppeteers worked in perfect synchronicity, the familiar animated Sid the Science Kid appeared on gigantic screens mounted around the set. I think it IS MAGIC.
And that is just the technology of what’s going on. Not the heart. What struck me the most were the PEOPLE on the set. Professional people listening to each other, providing positive feedback, making suggestions, tackling complicated details, and revising performances, and LAUGHING through it all. A lot of laughing. Sid and his friends cracked grown up jokes during rehearsal. Hilarious. But when the call came for quiet on the set (yes, they actually say that) and ACTION! they were all spot on. In the two hours I was there, they filmed about a minute of the show. A minute! These are a group of dedicated people.
Everyone was incredibly generous with their time and all my questions. It was abundantly clear that everyone cared about the job they are doing. Sid the Science Kid gives children — MY children — the chance to learn about science while seeing themselves reflected in family, school, and friendships. This talented group of artists are putting a lot of good into the world. And that’s a great place to be every day, I imagine.

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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