Facing the start of them COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, I joined this project to work with the director, producers, and production designer to reimagine it as something that could be produced remotely, with no physical contact between its creators. We developed a highly unique style and workflow that combined miniatures, traditional animation, and puppetry through visual effects. I went on to design and create the titular monsters (originally imagined as human costumes) as physical puppets to be incorporated digitally.
These monsters are the imaginary friends of a child protagonist, Meep, who lives in the deep poverty of a garbage-strewn future. With these puppets I aimed to capture a ragtag cuteness appropriate to Meep's sensibilities: a persistent playfulness and childish scrappiness, despite familiarity with death and misfortune.
Prior to this project, my puppet making experience was limited to hand-rod puppets made from only a couple of materials—mostly fleece and foam. To achieve what we wanted to evoke with these monsters, I had to combine a number of mediums and fabrication techniques. The two puppets function completely differently from each other.
Design Process Journal:
Director Lana Nguyen
Production Designer Justine Chen
I also created functional 1:12 scale LED light fixtures for the film's miniature sets, which were constructed by Production Designer Justine Chen: