work together as a cohesive unit (Figure 13, Figure 14,
and Figure 15).
If one method does not get the job done, then an
alternate must be found. The ingenuity that these
craftsmen possess motivates me to improve my skills.
Hopefully by continuing to observe their work, some of
their talent will wear off on me!
Many different methods are used to accomplish their
assigned tasks. They may be completing work on a T-Rex
this week and then be asked to animate a tiny creature
next week (Figure 16).
These projects need to be approached in completely
different ways, and the animator must be able to adapt his
mechanical design to fit each need.
Providing the brains for each project receives attention
from yet another talented group (Figure 17). Although
much of the movement is controlled by puppeteers, there
are still plenty of situations where individual controllers are
Figure 14. Time to see if it all will fit.
Tips and Tricks
I recently had the opportunity to visit Distortions
Unlimited: an impressive prop building shop located
outside of Denver, CO. Watch for the complete tour of the
facility in an upcoming article. During my visit, I was able
to meet with Mike Etling of Fiero Fluid Power, Inc. (see
Resources). The products they distribute that I am
especially interested in are the pneumatic components.
During our discussion on how to make props move,
Mike passed on a tip which was new to me. It was the fact
that the sound mufflers (Figure A) can become clogged
with impurities after long-term use. This can cause a
restriction in the exhaust of the air from the solenoid
resulting in reduced performance.
Keep this in mind if you are troubleshooting an
underperforming system that is suffering from an
apparent lack of air. It is easy to check components that
may resolve your issue!
Figure A. Keep those mufflers clean!
Figure 15. No hammers were used to get everything installed.
Figure 16. You need a fine eye for the small stuff.
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