We are all huge Stephen Colbert fans here at TSD, so when our friends at CBS’s the Late Show contacted us about creating a latex rubber salmon puppet for one of their upcoming segments we were o-fish-ally hooked! We discussed their specific needs for the project, as well as their ideas and visions were for the puppet. In the skit the salmon was supposed to be addicted to a number of legal and illegal drugs, so their puppet needed a very specific look. We suggested a realistic sculpted latex puppet with 2 pairs of interchangeable eyes. One pair that looked like a natural set of fish eyes and another pair of more cartoony blood shot eyes to give the production crew options when they filmed the final segment.
We began by sculpting the head and body separately (which helped with the molding process.) We used several reference photos to make sure that our sculpture looked as realistic as possible. The most time consuming process was to hand stamp each individual scale from the tail to the gills. Once the sculpture was finished we molded it and cast it in latex to give it a smooth fish like finish. We attached the pieces together and created a sleeve for the puppeteer’s hand. To give the fish a realistic paint job we used a combination of hand painting and air brushing techniques with several layers and a mix of metallic and non metallic finishes to give the scales a realistic, reflective look. We finished the puppet with one pair of taxidermy quality fish eyes for a more “normal fish” look and a second pair of hand painted comically bloodshot “tweaking” eyes. The finished piece made a huge splash with the production crew and the final skit was dolphinitely a hit!*
UPDATE – Sammy made a second appearance on the May 26th show! See the video below.
*We will try to scale back on the fish puns in the future, we promise we didn’t do it on porpoise! ;)
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