How Do They Do That? With Animatronics!

13 Feb
How Do They Do That? With Animatronics!

If you’ve recently been to the movie theater to see an awesome film you may have asked yourself, “how do they do that?” There are many things going on in films that make you question what is real. However, in the world of animatronics and robots, defying human understanding is becoming fairly commonplace.

For example, in one of our recent blog posts we featured an animatronic arm and hand combination that doubles as a movie prop. It will be used in an upcoming film for a scene in which a man has his hand chopped off in one continuous motion. Animatronics makes it possible to film the scene with full realism and no need to cut away (no pun intended, ha!).

The world of animatronics has completely revolutionized the film industry. But it has also done wonders for other industries as well. Not just industrial robots, but service robotics (including a sub-field of animatronics) are becoming a huge part of world-wide living.

Technology Increases Realism

In 1961 when Uncle Walt’s coined the term Audio-Animatronics (AA), there was no mistaking his imagineered devices for real humanoid and animals. That was exactly the pure charm of that new technology. The audience of that time was easy to “fool”, much more accepting of the entertainment and not so focused on the details of the technology. But that’s all changed. Technology has advanced to the point where it is possible to replicate even faint muscle movements in the face. Smiles are becoming more realistic, eyebrow twitches are nearly indiscernible, and blinking eyes look just like the real thing. If you don’t believe me just look at any of the major film critic’s review of this year’s “Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters”. Almost all of them mention “Edward” the troll as being amazing BECAUSE none of them could believe he was actually REAL, not CG. Huge cheers to Mike Elizalde and Mark Setrakian to making such an amazingly real / stylized animatronic that you foold the most savvy.

Animatronic masters have not yet made a foolproof un-stylized (i.e. completely real, such as a lifecast) human face but they are getting closer. So much so that we are now able to build a life-like animatronic figure that looks and acts just as you do. All we need are some specs and some photographs and we can create your animatronic alternative. How’s that for realism?

Who Uses Animatronics

While all of this is well and good, you might be wondering who uses animatronics. After all, they are not a commodity you can buy off-the-shelf, but an investment. If the truth be known, there are lots of individuals and businesses embracing custom robots.

For example, corporations sometimes purchase animatronic robots to replicate important company leaders like Hiroshi Ishiguro. Some even use them at tradeshows as promotional tools like the “Actroid” co-developed by Japan’s Kokoro Corp.

At the municipal level, custom robotics are often used for public memorials, in museums and historical societies, and even as props for city celebrations, festivals, and parades. And while it’s true they can be expensive initially, a well-built robot from an animatronic company like ours will pay for itself over even only months of use.

Animatronics have changed the way we look at lots of different industries. What we’ve been seeing in films over the last few years is now a reality for your company, nonprofit organization, municipality, or even your own home. We invite you to contact us today so we can show you how animatronics can work for you.

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