Animax Designs – Virtual Puppet

 

 

 

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Animax Designs has become a leading theatrical creature shop for puppets and advanced effects technology for television, film and theme parks.

 

Thanks to director of operations, Rob Saunders, I was called to perform a brand new piece of technology for a huge party hosting the heads of creative teams from across the international producing spectrum during the IAAPA Expo.

 

Aside from showing off creatures and 3-d branded characters, owner Chuck Fawcett wanted a new “party toy” – an animatronic head that could be controlled virtually.

 

The week prior, I flew to their workshop in Nashville where I quickly named and developed the backstory to this character to promote conversations with the guests. I also wrote bits and jokes for pre-recorded special “hellos” to executives and shout outs to passersby when the head wasn’t being performed live, but on display at the convention.

 

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The art, molding, painting, engineering and programming departments pounded this last minute idea out in a matter of days, working right up until the event, leaving me with about twelve minutes to familiarize myself with the rig.

 

Once your hands are scanned over a panel, each hand and finger controls the 16 different motors in the face,  including consonant and vowel lip positions.  The  controllers (the brain) were  provided by the geniuses at Weigl Works. I think I heard they ran about $16,000 each.

 

Not only a beautiful piece of art,  puppeteering with this kind of technology allows for smooth prerecords with  live integration, recording the manipulation of a live performance for immediate playback, direct improvisation with audiences, and as the clients will attest, opens the door of conversation to utilize this for advancing concepts.

 

Fascinating.

 

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ONE OF MY FAVORITE PUPPETS AT THE WORKSHOP.

 

 

 

RobBB