Posts Tagged ‘production design’

In Drab Future, The Von Neuman Moderators are the eyes and hands of the network. These agents exist to gather information and track resources, in order to expand the network and build more of them selves. While I could see that the power armored version could be a costume, I realized this character wouldn’t be able to be a person in a suit. Once the armor has been stripped away we need to be able to see their inhumanity.

Its long been a dream of mine to have a real, working, robot. I know a working autonomous bVon Neuman Moderator Animatronic Robot pt1iped with an AI is far out of my depth, but I want one that can be programmed to act in movies, run my booth at conventions, talk to people and hand out flyers. Even something like the animatronic band at Chuck E Cheese.

I have begun these videos as a behind the scenes for some of the construction. As usual I’m relying on as many found and prefab parts as I can to achieve the mechanical production look and move as quickly through the construction as I can. I’ve started with the Wowee toys Elvis Alive, which I was lucky enough to find on Ebay when a warehouse was liquidating their stock. For the body I’m starting with a posable mannequin which is similar in design to the wooden artist pose figures. This was given to me by a friend who was working in an art supply store. It had some minor damage and the store was cleaning out their storage and intended to throw it away. Truly a lucky score, I’ve never seen any others before or since. I’ve often thought about making molds from it to replicate more of them.

I’ve been planning on using the Wowee toys Elvis somewhat unmodified, at least electronically, because its really a great system. It uses a cartridge that contains songs and animation files. There is even a group of very clever folks doing some very cool hacks using them. I figured if I could avoid any major changes I wouldn’t need to teach myself arduino and robotic programming (yet) and follow along with this;
http://www.robocommunity.com/article/13840/Controlling-WowWee-s-Alive-Elvis-Part-2-Custom-Cartridge/

I even attempted to recruit someone to help me etch a custom circuit board part to make my own cartridge, unfortunately it never panned out. Basically this part is a xD media adapter to custom cartridge, which allows this ‘toy’ robot to play back animation files and mp3s.

This thread has a lot of detail about it, as well as included a diagram of the board I’d need to create;
http://www.robocommunity.com/forum/thread/13761/Elvis-Cartridge-has-been-hacked-updated-Article-is-on-the-way/

Continued in part 2…
https://drabfuture.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/von-neuman-moderator-animatronic-robot-pt2/

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The gynoid tries on the Witness mask #drabfuture

The Witness

All along I’ve been trying to make as much of The Witness wearable as possible. Parts such as the helmet/cowl and vest are removable from the puppet, as well as the leg pads.

More work on the Witness suit

That way for wide or long shots he could move around with a bit more agility without having to resort to stop motion or other puppetry for every shot he was in.

Witness mask #drabfuture

Since the head of the puppet is cast aluminum and too small to be wearable I was forced to create a secondary mask for the actor to wear.

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As the character and story evolved the costume version of the character took shape and evolved. I envisioned the witness as having different ‘modes’ and modular limbs, so he would be able to change form as needed. From his wheeled interior-workshop mode, to extended legs

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and finally his fully extended exterior form integrating inspiration from sources such as the land striders from Dark Crystal and the Wheelers from Return to Oz.

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I tried on The Witness costume in full last night at my workshop in Zero Friend’s warehouse in Oakland with the help of Kyle and Leslie. I’ve been working on the elements for this form separately for a while now, but it was exciting to see them all on at once.

Witness costume #drabfuture


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Much of Drab future will take place on board the KRAWLR, so I knew I’d need a good interior set, so early on I started transforming my studio into it.

I looked a lot at the genre and some of the amazing production design work done and gathered reference/inspiration, as well as submarines, space ships, inspiration “set” blog

I even went on a field trip to see one of the last WW2 battleships, the USS Iowa

I knew a few things I needed a few scenes; workshop, OP room, hallway, control room… and I had to find a way to work in a limited space, part by part, and using any thing I had on hand.

The first step was to start moving unrelated items away and create the walls I had, I knew I needed textured panels and a basecoat, so after a trip to the hardware store I added peg board panels and started covering everything with a dark grey. I figured this would work well for shining a light through to create a sense of depth.

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Slowly it spread to the whole room…

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As the KRAWLR is a scrap collector, It makes sense that the whole thing would contain bins of parts, so I gathered a rack of milk crates and enough robot parts to fill them, along with many of my sculpting supplies and materials

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The peg board also gives me a good way of storing props 🙂

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I found a bunch of sheets of plastic grid from a remodeling office building, which provided a good texture for the ceiling, after I hit it with a bit of paint for weathering.

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And this hanging lamp was donated by my friend Webster Colcord who’s wife worked for a lighting company

I extended some supports to add ceiling panels across the room, and hung sump tubing.

I mounted a partly disassembled fan into some packing foam on the ceiling for a vent. The best part it, it still works!