Anatomy of a Puppet Set

“It’s that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
“Merry Christmas
May your new year dreams come true”

And this song of mine
In three quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing, too”

Can you hear Frank Sinatra?

It is not yet Christmas and I do not want Christmas to be here yet because I have a lot of work to do before we launch iSpotSanta for it’s 6th year of spotting Santa Claus. I have to call Santa, write scripts, and prepare the AGP Studios for the AGP Newsroom sketches. These last two years we have really kicked up the production value of our sketches and that is because of our production manager, Autumn. She designed the set we will be examining.

Here are some tips on how to create your own puppet set like the ones you have scene at


At the AGP Studios you can see the set of the North Pole behind the scenes

Create depth

Best way to create depth is to add different levels to your sets, the North Pole set has four different levels to it excluding Kent’s position.

Level one, the furthest of the levels is the background. We used a white cloth that gave the appearance of snow fields that match the appearance of the North Pole.

Level two, the family of trees that are siting in front of the cloth background, this helps to breakup the set and the false background. Without it the background would look fake.

Level three, the igloo and snow covering, which makes up of the level between your puppet and the foreground level. Most sets only have this level, the next one and usually a background cloth or wall.

Level four, the foreground level consisting of snow and the ornament Christmas trees. This level has to be your best, add as much to this level as you can to hide your body when performing. Give yourself as much coverage as you can because you do not want to go through a long take to find out you have to redo your shots. Trust me, been there many times.


Mr. Moose steals a kiss from Kent Cook on set, notice how the different layers add depth

Add texture

If you notice on level four we have many different levels of texture between the snow, candy and ornament trees. This gives your sets more realism and creates ways for you to interact with your scene with shots, see the image above with Mr. Moose and Kent Cook. The ornaments make for a much more interesting shot with the added texture than just a flat prop near them.

Give yourself height

The best height is for you to be able to stand when you perform with your puppet, my ceilings are low in my studio so we place our sets on a table then place the table on an extra level of paint cans. This way I can sit comfortably as I perform with the puppet, downside is I cannot do much movement in regards to walking due to me having to sit.

Give yourself width

Between the layers you are going to use your puppet give yourself width so you do not accidentally hit part of your set. If you set up your camera up on a horizontal plane in regards to your set you won’t be able to notice the width but at the same time give yourself space.

Place props in your cameras foreground

With this set we used a fifth layer, to interact with our shot. We could have used a dolly and dollied away from the foreground prop or just use a simple rack focus but we did use a simple prop in the corner that gave it more realism. That makes people feel like your set is more than what it is. We have used a window panel to make a set look like we are looking into a room when in reality it is only a one wall set and a window. We decided not to do this for this production due to the snow added in post, we felt it would take away from the story. To watch the final work of this production see it on iSpotSanta.

I hope these tips help you create some great sets and inspire you. See you soon Santa Spotters!

The beautiful Autumn surrounded by the NP Newsroom

The beautiful Autumn surrounded by the NP Newsroom, just because I love her smile

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