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Neal Scanlan

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Animatronics

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Performance Animation Controller

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An Introduction to Studio Processes

Design and Sculpt

Design and Sculpt process

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 media industry.

Mouldmaking

Mouldmaking

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.

Engineering

Engineering

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.

Electronics

Electronics

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

Cosmetics

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 critical public.

Performance

Performance

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.