An Introduction to Studio Processes
Design and Sculpt
From concept to visualisation, talented designers work with the Art Department and Director
to realise their vision. Starting with concept sketches, the design department creates and
develops the look of the character. In many cases a maquette or scale version is sculpted to
further explore the form before finally rendering the character as a full scale three dimensional
sculpt. At this size, the character can be further considered and refined, before the final design
is approved. Our designers can become involved at any stage of a project's development.
These broad and unique skills have found a usefulness in many areas of the entertainment and
The art of capturing and reproducing form and detail is the task of the mould makers. Upon
approval, a sculpt is encapsulated in a medium and a negative impression is made. These
moulds serve many purposes in producing three dimensional forms used in the construction of
animatronic characters. These highly specialised mould makers design and produce moulds for
a wide range of applications including models, props, life-casting and prosthetic appliances.
Single or multiple casts are taken from these moulds and can be produced in a variety of
materials from rigid fibreglass and plastics, to soft and flexible rubbers and urethanes and many
versatile materials have been developed in-house to meet project demands.
Creating movement through mechanical means is the responsibility of the engineering
department. There can be very few industries that demand such a diversity of skills and
animatronic designers are considered a rare breed. From simple prop to fully animatronic
character, the designers develop unique and innovative solutions that are tailored to meet the
performance requirements of their brief. This ingenious department, design, develop and
manufacture anything from one-off components to state of the art, high precision mechanisms.
From miniature to large scale constructions, modern and traditional techniques are combined
to re-create natural motion.
Primarily responsible for the development of the Performance Animation Controller, the
electronics engineers push the boundaries of control system design, providing unique methods
of programing animatronic characters within a flexible real time control environment.
Incorporating the use of computers, motion capture and animation data, the electronics
department provides a vital link between the performer and the animatronic character. Custom
designed circuitry and electrical installations provide exceptional levels of performance and
reliability over extended periods of time.
Cosmetics describes the final look, finish or appearance of an animatronic character. Unique to
their field the cosmetic designers and artists have developed over the years, many techniques
to create the perfect illusion.
Whether real or imaginary, almost any finish can be achieved; from a simple industrial coating,
to a highly detailed and intricate paintwork or to the application of fur or feathers. Focal
length of lenses, lighting conditions and the operational environment, define our approach and
these extraordinary skills are being constantly developed to meet the demands of the ever
Bringing the character and personality to an animatronic model is the role of the performance
artist. Working alongside the Director, a performance can be discussed, evolved and rehearsed
in much the same way as one would do with a human actor. Experts in traditional
puppeteering and modern virtual reality techniques, these artists control and manipulate the
animatronic character reacting to the Directors commands, their environment and cast
members. Interactive performances can happen in real time or be pre-programmed to a
dialogue track or an audio-visual presentation.