It’s January 7th, you know what that means? I just had an epiphany! Get it? Sorry, with Under the Radar in full swing all over the building, Compulsion now in rehearsals, Timon of Athens starting rehearsals next week, plus writing magazine articles and my book on prop-making, I only have a list of links today. But they are very interesting ones that should keep you busy for a long time.
Steve Johnson has spent 30 years designing and building all sorts of monsters for films, such as Ghostbusters, Spiderman 2, The Abyss, and a ton of others. He’s now uploading all the photos and behind-the-scenes video he’s shot during his career (most of which hasn’t been seen before) to the Steve Johnson YouTube Channel. Sweet.
I have elephants on the mind today; I’m not sure why.
This elephant is from a French show in 2006 called “Visit From The Sultan Of The Indies On His Time-Travelling Elephant”. It was designed by François Delarozière, made mostly of wood and needed 22 handlers to operate its hydraulics and motors. But wait, there’s more.
I like things that move on their own. An automaton is a self-operating machine, usually through mechanical means. Animatronics is a more specialized type of automaton; it is a form of mechanized puppet. Neither of these should be confused with a robot, which is an object which can sense and/or react to its environment. Here are some starter links if you are interested in making or learning more about animatronics and automaton.
“How Animatronics Works“, by Jeff Tyson. A look at how Stan Winston Studios creates a full-scale animatronic Spinosaurus. In addition to describing the animatronic parts, it’s an interesting look at how to sculpt, cast, and fabricate a full-size dinosaur.
Instructables has a number of guides on creating animatronics of varying complexity:
Grim Reaper Animatronic is one of the simplest; it uses an oscillating fan for its movement. It shows how you can simplify things by using already existing parts and mechanisms if you can look at their possibilities. This is true of all props.
Halloween Animatronics is a nice introduction to computer-controlled movements. It uses a USB interface to connect the parts directly to your computer for manipulation. My how far we’ve come.
How to create simple animatronics – Part one: using the MAKE controller. Using a controller board allows your animatronics to be self-contained, since the controller board takes the place of your computer. You still set up the board with your computer. This tutorial also involves hooking up sensors to control the movement, much like in the first link, where Stan Winston Studios uses arm-length gloves to control the Spinosaurus’ arms.
For Automaton, the Automata/Automaton Blog is the greatest place to start. Not only does it continually update with photographs and information about both antique and contemporary automaton, but it’s the perfect starting place for further exploration of information.
As soon as we walked through those doors we were inundated with loud noises, air cannons, flashing lights, animatronics and eager guys and gals ready to show you their product. Instant FUN! We saw some props that have been around for years. Completely realistic looking heads, zombies, dead animals, masks complete with pores and veins.
They have a number of photographs and videos from the event as well.