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The Making Of Sprocket! Behind the Scenes with David Dibble

Masked up except for when we rolled the camera at a safe social distance, here are some clips from the making of Sprocket. What a great opportunity for the Pro8mm team to be part of the production as puppeteers, actors and prop masters!

Several months ago we began to roll out our concept for a company mascot to help us with the transition from spending large amounts of in store time with clients to more contactless opportunities since the arrival of Covid-19. The idea was to have a virtual assistant that would support filling out paperwork, assist with ordering and answer questions about post production services.

Just like Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse to be the (timeless) face of The Walt Disney Corporation, we came up with Sprocket, a film reel who has come to life through the  input of our Pro8mm team and the creative vision of Colorado based filmmaker David Dibble 

Here is what David has to say about the process:

I was very happy when Phil and Rhonda chatted with me on Zoom about making a “whimsical” virtual assistant and mascot come to life.  They had already made a little fold of film that kind of reminded me of the “Gingerbread Man” running around and Phil had mentioned liking the style of “Mr. Bill.” 

This made me think along the lines of “The Muppets” or the old animated specials like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  Since Pro8mm specializes in Super 8 and 16mm, a retro feel seemed right and we knew we wanted a real little character rather than digital animation.  I contacted Matthew McGee, a puppeteer/puppet-builder extraordinaire, who I’ve known since he was a kid.  He created a fun little puppet, made out of an actual Super 8 film and reel with California sunglasses, that would be shot on a green screen.  I did some tests at my home in Durango with friends Reid Bloxom, Kyle Colley and Monty Daniels to get an idea of how “Sprocket” would move.  They had never been puppeteers and filming Sprocket on green screen was going to take some trial and error, but they were already bringing the puppet to life. The next step was to create Sprocket’s world.

Sprocket’s world is Pro8mm, of course.  Filming the backgrounds was one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever had.  Sprocket’s friends would be the humans that work at Pro8mm but also cameras and projectors.  Pro8mm staff Darlene and Deanndra were so fun to work with as they added googly eyes to cameras, figured out how to move the camera puppets with string and created sleeping cameras complete with lens cloths as blankets. Other staff David, Ilani, Daphne and Kevin joined the fun being crew members, pulling strings to knock over things as Sprocket ran, and making cameos.  It was also fun to have the Vigeant family, Phil, Rhonda, Jaclyn and Mike, make appearances. 

All of the backgrounds were shot old school on either 16mm or Super 8 with a few shots using Phil’s prototype film printing, adding to the retro look and feel of the commercial.  I composed a bouncy musical score and Tony Smyles, who has become my voice of Super 8, narrating several of my past Super 8 short films, provided the narration.  Hopefully people will enjoy the commercial as much as we enjoyed making it and Sprocket can have more adventures.

Check out the final Sprocket Film!

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