Latest in Animatronics

Image credit:

This video will make you miss the heyday of animatronic puppets

Devindra Hardawar, @devindra
November 11, 2014
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Sure, CGI has come a long way. But there's still something magical about practical special effects in films. At Engadget Expand, we got a close look at some of the most intriguing work from animatronics expert Mark Setrakian. You've probably seen his stuff: He created the tiny, head-mounted alien that delivered some crucial plot information to Will Smith in Men in Black. He specializes in creating complex animatronics that appear surreally lifelike. (He particularly enjoys building terrifying robotic hands.)

Engadget Expand: TV and Movie Magic with Robots

For that iconic Men in Black scene (02:07 in the clip above), Setrakian said he created an eight-foot-tall cockpit to house the two-foot alien, which was controlled by five puppeteers. Note the attention paid to the alien's heavy breathing and it's life-like eyes. Setrakian also ended up voicing the alien.

"They just don't make puppets like this anymore," he said in a conversation with Engadget editor Mat Smith. "We were on the cusp of when CGI was starting to make it into films."

His work also includes creatures for the Hellboy films, Lady in the Water, and Pacific Rim, although more recently, he's focusing on creating humanoid robots. For example, he built the freaky dancing robot installation Female Figure together with the artist Jordan Wolfson. That's a particularly haunting piece, because it's at once human and alien. Even more impressive, he programmed all of the robot's dance movements by hand -- no motion capture involved.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

The 2020 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

The 2020 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

View
Scientists find neutrinos from star fusion for the first time

Scientists find neutrinos from star fusion for the first time

View
The best Black Friday tech deals that are already available

The best Black Friday tech deals that are already available

View
'Mechwarrior 5' will arrive on Xbox in spring 2021

'Mechwarrior 5' will arrive on Xbox in spring 2021

View
'Marvel's Avengers' hasn't turned a profit yet

'Marvel's Avengers' hasn't turned a profit yet

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr