Monday, September 2, 2013

Animatronics of Gustav Hoegen

Animatronics are sophisticated puppets controlled by performers on set using cables or servos. They lend a realism to movies that CGI creatures often can't achieve because animatronics exist in the actor's physical space, where they can interact in much more complex ways.


(Direct link to video) Here's a showreel of the work of Gustav Hoegen, who has worked on Prometheus, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Clash of the Titans. The images range from cute to creepy, but it's amazing to see the exquisite mechanical inner workings.

7 comments:

bill said...

Do you know the cost differences in creating an animatronic character vs. cg?

James Gurney said...

I have no idea. Anybody?..........

HOZ said...

It really depends upon the level of complication and detail. I have always approached both as an answer to a need. Neither are best for all. They both have limitations.

Richard Cave LBPPA said...

As HOZ has said, animatronics are good for on set interaction, however once the design has been sculpted and cast you cannot change it without loss of time. On set costs, are fabrication, design, electronics, operators/puppeteers and on set servicing, if its on screen for a brief moment the cost of all this offsets CGI. CGI you can revise and alter to the nth degree, also you can change the physicality of the CGI creation within your scene. This cuts down time as with a animatronic creation you may need extra room for lifting and moving or to put in false floors and sets. With CGI you only need to let the on set supe do his HDRI and Tonal mapping (SIlver ball and grey ball), LIDAR mapping (done during lunch) and the camera operator keeping a continuity log of lens data, distance, aperture and a lighting plan. This is more flexible than animatronics, however animatronics a actor can interact with and improvise, CGI is more difficult (though MOCAP is helping see Ted) . Each are a tool and should be approached for the visual impact and interactivity on screen. Audiences are starting to prefer in camera work.

Costs involved are basically the same, time, labour, and design. If you have 6 weeks to film edit and release Spielbergs War of the Worlds comes to mind CGI is quicker and easier. However if you have time and want interaction and believeablity for example Labyrinth animatronics complete that.

Cost for CGI,

Software licence, Operators, Look Dev, Design, Animation, Shading, Compositing and render time. balance animatronics and CGI out. Getting costs of a production company is impossible, however one CGI shot that I saw budgeted came to $25,000 however seen Animatronics that cost the same.

James Gurney said...

Thanks so much, Richard, for taking the time to explain that.

I should mention too that Legacy Effects, the former Stan Winston Studios, is still very active in animatronics, as well as CGI and prosthetics, and they have a strong teaching presence now. They have a lot of interesting videos on YouTube, and offer online classes on creature construction and animation.
http://www.legacyefx.com/

Rant said...

This video is AWESOME! Thanks for sharing James! Did I mention creepy? Oh yeah awesome and CREEEEEEPY!

Lucas said...

I've thought for a long time that the Vogons in the most recent Hitchhiker's Guide movie (shown here towards the end of the video) are the most amazing animatronic puppets ever made. Perfect.