Friday, April 29, 2011

Animatronics

In the basement of Creative Engineering, half finished animatronic figures were lined up like so many wooden soldiers. The scarecrow and tin man were nestled in among the crowd from a long lost Oz attraction. Yellow air tubes snaked in and around the aluminum inner structures. Eyes stared blankly forwards, yet the scarecrow had a mischievous and lifelike grin. Rather than mouths, the animatronics used a simple hinged plate to work the lower jaw. Everywhere I looked there was something to draw. Although the heat was oppressive I returned time and again anxious to find life in the dormant factory.

I studied one of the animatronics figures in detail noting every piston and servo so I might reconstruct its inner workings using my 3D animation program. I drew up an immense grid and hung it up behind the figure for size reference. It was so hot I had to remove my shirt. Sweat poured down my back as I worked. It felt good to be using a workshop that had sat idle for more than 20 years. I worked quickly and used the shirt to wipe my brow. Aaron came down to check on my progress. He laughed when he saw me at work and said, "That is how we work at Creative Engineering, anything to get the job done."

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