52 SERVO 08.2017
For example, lighting incorporated into the costume
can be managed using an Arduino or other microcontroller.
You may be thinking that we have overlooked an
important electronic consideration; namely the audio. It was
an interesting revelation that these special effects wizards
are not involved with providing the sound for their
characters. That is usually added in post production.
As a result, they have the added benefit of not needing
to worry about the sound the servos or actuators make as
the final track is overlaid later.
I hope you are inspired by the included photos, but
nothing shows the true brilliance of the work done here like
a video. We all are familiar with the major motion picture
characters that came out of this shop, but you may want to
check out some of the animal creations they have been
involved in. These can be seen in the You Tube video at
This video includes clips of the Black Sheep that David
and two other puppeteers demonstrated for me on my first
visit. The realism that they are able to impart was amazing!
I would like to offer my praise to these unsung
performers: the live action puppeteers. The animators
are often asked to puppeteer their creations once
construction is completed. They must serve multiple
roles: mechanical designer, creator, and performer.
This often requires them to travel to the shooting
location and perform the character according to a
director’s instruction. It also requires that they be
proficient in different control methods (Figure 18
and Figure 19).
Much like the actual performing actors, the
puppeteers must rehearse as a group in order to
bring the finished character to life. These
professionals are extremely talented and highly
skilled. Their performance requires exceptional
coordination among the team members.
Although they are working from a script, they
must also allow for on-the-spot changes made by the
director. Once a performance is completed to
Figure 17. Programmers have
their job to do as well.
Figure 18. It takes a team to
make it all come together.
Figure 19. Sometimes the simple ways work the best.