Custom Entertainment Solutions (CES) Inc. is always looking for ways to give back to the local Salt Lake City area. Therefore, it was without reservation that we agreed to sponsor the first ever animatronics team for the SLC Boys & Girls Club. The experiences we shared with the team were as much a learning experience for us as it was for them.
The team was comprised by a number of young people who showed an interest in animatronics and how they work. Our goal at CES was to teach the team members the basics of how animatronics are designed and created, along with showing them some of the technical knowledge that goes into creating animatronic movement. It was a pilot program and the first of its kind for the Boys & Girls Club.
The animatronics team was very careful to stress the team concept throughout the entire process. All of the design and sculpting was done entirely by the teens themselves, with supervisory guidance provided by CES president Josh Gray. In order for the project to realize its goals however, each of the kids had to fully participate. Each one also had to learn to work with the others.
While some parts of the project were tedious and challenging, each member of the team pulled together and pushed through. Perhaps the lesson of perseverance was the most important gleaned from the experience. The kids learned to finish what they started even though the process was not always sunshine and roses.
What They Accomplished
Despite having absolutely no experience in animatronics, the team created a working animatronic head based on their own designs. In a nutshell, here’s what they accomplished:
- Design and Drawing – The first step in the creation process was to design the basic concept for the finished project. This included drawing out the ideas for what the animatronic head would look like.
- Sculpting – The concept stage was followed by each team member creating a sculpture representing what he or she saw the finished head should be. The team then reviewed all of the sculptures, took the best ideas from each one, and amalgamated them into a single idea.
- Molding – Making simple molds in the club facility showed the basics of mold making. This process can be extremely complex and it regarded as an art form in itself. The final head sculpt was molded by CES mold making interns.
- Skinning and Painting – Finally, the team learned how to create a synthetic skin to cover the molded head. The skin was painted, the animatronics mechanisms added, and their creation finally came to life!
As team facilitators, we were thrilled to see all of the teenagers contribute to the success of the project. Many of them discovered they have skills and talents they did not previously know they had. Others learned the very important lesson of following through on your dreams and ambitions. Overall, it was a great project that CES was thrilled to be a part of. It is a program we hope the Boys & Girls Club will continue in the future.