The (Old and being edited) Frequently Asked Animatronics Questions Page !
(Most of these questions and answers were actually dug out of my email-files and from the Animatronics-L emailing-list and pasted here so the answers are pretty wordy ...and nOW I'm editing occasionally to update the info so realize alot of the original type is about 8 years old

I don't consider myself an "Expert" in animatronics. Mostly what I've done has been of my own methods and design so the techniques that "I'm" used to won't neccessarily match up with what people are doing in the field so anything I say shouldn't be considered the end all and be all of advice !
Any time "I'm" looking for advice (whether it's career advice or materials suggestions) I usually ask "Many" people what their opinions are. 
(in THIS kind of field can ask 10 people and get 10 answers)

(( Q: ))

Originally there was the Animatronics-L at which turned into Animatronics @ Egroups which all worked well ..
but of course Egroups got eaten by Yahoo (I just deleted my "i hate yahoo" rant here) ..
The there was then Animatronics @ Yahoogroups .com which was inundated with spammity-spam because the guy from MIT who started it in 1998 (the only "moderator" who`d be able to delete spammers) after a couple years started literally backpacking all over the globe
( - Very Interesting/inspiring travel blog by the way)

So Jack Buffington started the current most popular
"Animatronics_Discussion @ Yahoogroups .com"

I was able to take-over moderation of the original Animatronics group at Yahoo so I can trim-out the spammers for those still on the list..bUT..I basically kept it there just to be able to point people to Jack`s new list.

The first few years of Archives for the Animatronics-L on my old website are here  - - - Animatronics-L Archives - - -
If you`re looking for some general beginner info on building Animatronic Characters etc. ..Although alot of the info is old..I think i`ll go in and add updated-notes sometime soon.

The Top Forum I should mention should probably be.. www. The Effects Lab .com  maintained by Joe Lester.
Lost of threads related to Cables, SIlicones and other materials, Mechanics, etc. etc. nice and active and up to date.

One of the most active places for Info related to Animatronics are also the Halloween lists!

The Primary list is possibly the Halloween-L at
Information on joining and Archives are at..

basically you send a blank email to.. Join the list.
or.. Join the list in digest mode.

There's also the YahooGroup "HauntWorld" at..

If you`re a fan of the Chucky Cheese style Animatronic Characters (or if you own any) then.. would be for you ..
occasional useful info, very very active but primarily keeping track of what the original-designer and 2nd moderator (Aaron Fechter) is up to and the history of the characters etc.
Much discussion of programming with the original proprietary systems etc. and dealing with the pneumatics etc.
(a few Chuck E Cheese Techs on the board)
(Update: At the moment (jan 2009) the site is shut-down due to drama and the craziness that is .. "the world of animatronics")

An attempt to create a group that has the technical Q&A of the Haunted Lists without the 1000`s of posts of Banter etc. resulted in..
(moderately active ..not so much with Animatronic Topics but useful for Attractions in general (circuits, amps, sensors, Video etc.) usually haunt related)

If you`re looking for topics about Pro-ShowControl systems the list is.. (VERY pro ..very intimidating ..very informative ..Discussions between working ShowControl Professionals so you're gonna have to get a book just to keep up if you're new to this stuff and Don`T just jump in and post ..Lurk a while and learn)

It`s not actually Animatronics BUT it`s Very "VERY" worth mentioning if your Animatronics building also includes Entertainment Robotics ...
Very Very Large amount of useful info regarding Robotic Control Systems, Motors and drivetrains, Specialized Internal Lighting, PIC Circuits, Working with Fiberglass and Resins, Molding and Casting, Machining, etc. etc. etc.
1000`s of members, Most Active group of all I`ve seen!


(( Q: ))

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
Special make-up effects, prothetics, movie miniatures, stop motion armature, resin & fiberglass fabrication, vacuform technologies, silicone mold-making, radio/cable controlled puppets, props, electrical, mechanical, computer animation, industrial design. Call for details.
526 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (the pittsburgh site)
(with the industrial course at ... )  (the philadelphia site)

A little vague but says ..
"includes the creation of special effects make-up and theatrical props for film and television."
I HaVE Noticed that there ARE VerY Capable and good artists working on FX and Animatronic types of projects that came from the Pittsburgh school that are either still working in the are or have migrated to Florida or California.
Some of the artists are in forums including the instructor
(check out his company at.. .)

The Philadelphia branch used to have an instructor that could send a few top students to an insider at stan winston's for jobs each year ...he's gone now though. (and now that i'm editing this 5 years later sadly so is Stan Winston , rip)
    I'm not sure what the state is of the Philadelphia course nowadays's still there but last time I checked (2008) was split into a 3 part Industrial Design course where almost ALL the Hands-On work was pushed to the "Optional" 3rd year! ..which is a good attempt to reduce costs by emphsizing "DESIGN" rather than the INDUSTRIAL instead of students buying and working with physical materials they're spending most of their time using markers, charcoal and computers for drawing ..much cheaper.
Check it out though because everything seems to ChangE Every 3 years.
Email: (could be a wrong address by now)

Overall Art Institutes Websites..


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cinema Make-up School
"Hollywood's Finest Make-up Artistry"
Special make-up effects, prosthetics, character make-up, body casting, mechanical effects...

3345 Willshire Blvd.
Suite 1111
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Tel: 213-368-1234
Fax: 213-739-0819

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dick Smith's Advanced Professional Makeup Course
For info send S.A.S.E. to:
Dick Smith
27 Wilford Ave.
Branford, CT 06405
A Very comprehensive "makeup" course from the most respected makeup-artist in the movie-world (and by t he way "everybody" I know that's talked to him talks of how nice a guy he is ..score one for the good guys)
It's basically a correspondence-course where you get the first section of the the projects ..take pictures and send them back .. then if you succeeded well enough you get the next section.

It's geared towards "makeup" but has a section on Animatronics (which i Think was written primarily by the late Tom Culnan which has 2 copied pages on my site at ...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Carnegie Mellon University
Entertainment Technology Center
(Has an Interactive Animatronics course ... not sure if the emphasis is on "Interactive" or "Animatronics" but either way it might be a good start)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tom Savini's Makeup Course is actually the Douglas School below?

This sixteen-month program is designed to provide graduates with the skills necessary for a career in the special make-up effects and show design businesses. The program of study developes competency in the four skill areas of special effects: 1) Make-Up Application, 2) Mold Making & Casting, 3) Animation Fabrication, 4) Exhibit and Display Design.

mostly makeup and mould making and casting but there's a course-entry called "Remote Controlled Creatures" in the second year .. I don't know how in depth it is though.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Douglas School  - (45 Mins South of Pittsburgh)
ThiS is actually where the Savini Course is I guess.
I've heard mixed opinions .. mostly that Savini isn't really there very much other than to pop his head in a couple times during the entire course ..that's an opinion from around 2003 though)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Complections International
"The Make-Up School - Since 1979"

Lots of make-up courses, including a 6-week course in special effects makeup, prosthetics and animatronics.
(from what I remember someone mentioned that they don't offer the animatronics part of the course anymore)
Call or write them for a complete information package on all courses and starting dates.
New school opening in 1999 in Miami, Florida!

85 St. Nicholas Street.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1W8
Phone: 416-968-6739
Fax: 416-968-7340

((((a post from the animatronics list stated...))))
HI Elizabeth,
    We are based in Toronto and I am a little familiar with Complections here. A fellow we hire on contract from time to time was looking in to going there, but he has discovered complexions is more of a SFX Make-up program than an animatronics school.
    While I am not an authority on their program, my understanding is that what they do teach is more on the sculpting & casting side of animatronics rather than the electronics/mechanical side. They do have a website, I don't have the URL but you can probably find it by searching or
Hope this helps,
Andrew Young
Omle Media's Character Shop
    Visit our NEW websites:
        Omle Media ~
        Omle Media's Character Shop ~

Subj: Re: Questions, questions, questions.
Date: 12/2/2001 9:58:42 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Andrew Young)
From the: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Joe Blasco Make-up Artist Training Centers
"Today's Premier Name in Professional Make-up Education"

(Editing in here...see  for some negative comments about the school if you want.)

Advanced prosthetics course includes prosthetic design, sculpting techniques, postive & negative molds, full head casting, body casting, foaming techniques, coloring techniques, bladder and mechanical effects, and more. Call their 800 number to receive information for both schools.

West Coast:
1670 N. Hillhurst Ave.
Hollywood, CA. 90027
Tel: 323-467-4949

East Coast:
7340 Greenbriar Pkwy.
Orlando, FL. 32819
Tel: 407-363-1234

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Make-up Designory
Los Angeles School of Make-up, Inc
Prosthetics, airbrushing, animatronics. Courses start monthly. For more information write them, call them, or check out their website.

10153 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Tel: 818-752-4276
Fax: 818-752-6962

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If you're reading this ..there is ALso a course that I should add to the list somewhere around Bethlehem Pennsylvania that teaches the Technical course for Stage and Theater etc. ( looked like it includes show-control, lighting, control of pneumatics?? etc.
but if you're looking to learn the technical control end of things and not the artistic side it could be a possibility to look for courses in Show Control etc.

(( Q: ))
> I am interested in doing some kind of special effects
>(either animatronics, model building, or computer animation).
> I am a sophomore in high school.

As I said before I usually suggest looking at "Industrial Design" courses if you really want to
try to get an education that will give you the range you'd need for model-
building, animatronics, spfx etc. (they often include airbrushing, casting / moulding,
sculpting, maybe some concept drawing, a little mechanical education thrown-in and on and on)

Find out how to do sculpting, casting, mould-making, vacuforming (and maybe photo-etching? for fine detailing)  if
you really want to do "professional" model-making (like if you need to build a
car from scratch etc. :) (i didn't learn that early enough :( just catching up
now :(

Get photos of Eeeeverything !! (and never lose-em !) (you'll even need the
goofy ones in 20 years !!!)
Do twice as much as the teacher asks for while you have the chance (it's hard
to find the time after you get out) (besides . . it's gonna be YOUR portfolio !)
For advice on Computer Animation etc. I'd also just check the
news:alt.movies.visual-effects  newsgroup and site (that's mostly what they're
into :)

From the: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

(( Q: ))
(or should I just  learn it in the field like some people suggest?)

There's ALOT of differing answers to this one

Personally if it's just "animatronics" and you want to cover most of the aspects of it i'd reccomend taking an industrial design course long as they allow you enough room to learn as much as you can etc.

If you're thinking about whether to goto school for animatronics & spfx etc. ... there's a feW Very Good pages written at ...

The  Real answer is really just "figure out what you need to know and have" .. and if school is the best path to having and knowing it..go for it . . . and if learning on your own is better then go for that.
You're really going to have to look at the school ..look at your portfolio (if you don't have one what are you Doing sitting here reading? ..get up and make something , get some pics of it and figure out the best decision on your own.

Examples of  5 friends of mine:

David Downes:
went to school for Industrial Design ..was able to adjust his own portfolio to reflect his interest in spfx etc. and got a few jobs ..worked smaller jobs to get a resume going ..stayed with friends in California and worked for Dinomations, i forget the other shop's name ..and now is sculpting small figures for a prototype company (good money)
(mostly been sculpting but note that having a diverse portfolio and range of skills has actually helped him quite a bit)

John Stuart:
(website gone)
Went to the Hussian school for Art ...taught himself spfx, sculpting etc. etc. worked various freelance jobs in philadelphia (you really need to in Philly) and is now teaching the SPFX course at the Philadelphia Art Inst.

Frank Frucello:
Went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Industrial-Design program for a while (as an older student with an Art portfolio already) ...dropped out towards the end because the teachers admitted that they really couldn't teach him much more he didn't already know ...worked for a local theme-park first painting carousel horses and scenery ..then working on the animatronics ..talked with the animatronics-installers when they came around from Florida and wound-up with a job at Sally corp.(hooraay)

Eric Princz:
Never went to school for this stuff ..started in Philadelphia working for Museums, Dept. stores and various freelance jobs ..and built up his own company building Animatronic & Animated figures in New Jersey.

Tony Buffa (this is an old webpage)
Went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia under John Stuart ..worked a few smaller projects ..moved to California ...worked quite a few freelance gigs ..made a little pizza here and there ..worked at Stan Winston's for a bit has up's and down's but hangin in there pretty well.
(better info on

Andrew Hosmer
Went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh  .. really had the right attitude to go BeYond what the minimum requirements were to "get the grades"  
Does great work .. look him up at the FX Lab ( ) along with others.


> I got an email from a student asking
>if  they still really build their own stuff ? and do they
> have any strict requirements ?? )
> The big question is where are they going to school.
> Disney does all of their hiring with people living in southern CA or FL ?

True, and as you said below, 95% of "Imagineers" come from Disney schools or
farms. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between "cast member" and
"imagineer". The first can be hired from anywhere, anytime, with any skills.
And while they can sometimes move over to imagineering, it's rare. The second
are usually hired from the farms.

A few things about Disney:

- They pay LOW
- They expect long hours and hard work
- They fill only open positions, and they fill EXACTLY (i.e., if the job calls
for 8 required skills and 2 optional, they will NOT consider anyone who doesn't
have all 8 at minimum).
- They require specific skills, and don't accept "exchanges" (i.e., if they
want a BSME and you have a BSEE, it doesn't match).

BTW, I know this stuff from personal experience by applying for Imagineering
positions. I really want to get into the ride design group, but I don't have
the right skills. In talking with the head Imagineer, he said the BEST skill
you could have to get into Imagineering is a good ME, supplemented with an EE.
CS doesn't matter much, unless you want the graphics or animation side of

Good luck!
Author: Bruce Bergman

(Tim Eckt)

You know, these letters about Disney sound real discouraging. Many of
the things that people said were true, (recruitments, requirements,
etc.) However, if you really try, and I mean try (for years) you can
accomplish the dream of working for Imagineering (WDI). Personally,
it took me years of contacts, and networking. I suggest that anyone
with the same dream also be patient, and work at the dream one day at
a time.

I was an intern at WDI last summer. I desinged animatronics. I can't
go into details here, but it was a great experience. There are tons
of great things about this industry, but not-so good things at the
same time. (That's a different topic)

Anyways, I say if you are into animatronics 500% like I am, then
shoot for your goals. It takes time. It's not luck either. It's good
ol' hard work.

BTW, there are plenty of other companies working on animatronics for
Disney and Universal as well. Look into those as well.
Okay, this ended up being long, but the point is, yes, it is hard to
get in (very hard) but it is possible!!

Tim Eck............visit my website for more info:
the main site is:

(Editing in 2009: Tim Eckt now works at Disney full time as an Animatronics Designer)
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Subj: Disney/Imagineering
Date: 98-07-24 14:48:31 EDT
From: (Bruce Bergman)
and: eckt@warp.msoe.eduand: (Tim Eckt)
From: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)


Usually to check for book info I goto  (Wyverne's Realm - The Animatronics Resource) and goto the "books" section.
I also just came accross (hopefully that'll be there awhile)
&  as always..

But a few off the top are ...

"The Illusion Of Life"
By Gene William Poor, Ph.D.
ISBN: 0-88157-000-1
$25.50 from Special Effect Supply ? (may be gone)
Not really a 'how-to' book but does cover alot of the companies and has photos etc.
(Animatronics-L post from Robert Van Deest: The Book "Illusions of Life, Lifelike Robotics" by Gene Poor is no longer in publication, and has become hard to find. If you find a copy hang on to it.)

"No Strings Attached: The Inside Story of Jim Henson's Ceature Shop"
by Matt Bacon
ISBN: 0028620089
$35 ($24 from Amazon?)
Nice big book ..price is right usual not really a 'how-to' But there Are LOTS of Pics and Info on their mouldmaking proccesses, control-system, half finished puppets, their big latex-injection-gun

"Special Effects in film and television"
by Jake Hamilton
there's a pic at . . .
and . . .
It's not a 'how-to' either but DK-publishing takes Great photo's and there's some pics (with parts labelled) of the Henson Puppet Control System, and a Great Big Pic on the cover of the Ape Head from the Disney movie "Henry" ? (big and crisp to the point where you can see the blobs of silicone caulk and strands making-up the face-cables.

"The Prop Builders Molding & Casting Handbook"
By Thurston James
ISBN: 1-55870-128-1
The Most Widely known (widely useful) book regarding mold-making, casting, vacuforming etc. etc. etc.
(This is probably the most Useful book in the list)
$19.95 from Special Effect Supply or Make-Up Artist Magazine

"Silicone Art"
by  Tom McLaughlin - ( this guy  )
Item #IA-0069-01-001 (i don't think  that's an isbn # though)
The Silicone Bible basically ...Covers Coloring Silicone, Special Mixtures, Reinforcing Silicone / Foam latex, and More.

(from an Animatronics-L post ...)
>p.s. I'm drooling over recently discovered
"Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Sourcebook"
> Nicholas P. Chironis / Neil Sclater.
> ISBN 0-07-011356-4
> It's a gem!
(don't know any details)

"Animatronics - A Guide to Animated Holiday Displays"
By Edwin Wise,
  ISBN 0-7906-1219-4
This book is new and has some good information.
(Animatronics-L post From Robert Van Deest)

I don't know any details about these but this info is from ..
Copyright©1999 - 2002 Blue Point Engineering, All Rights Reserved

Volume 1 - "Animatronics Introduction and Techniques" * available soon AMB-0010 $ 85.00
1. Definition of Animatronics
2. Past Present and Future of Animatronics
3. Design Methods / Considerations
4. Type of Animatronics Methods
5. Safety
6. Tools, Use of and Techniques
7. Animatronic Building Methods
8. Setting the stage for an Animatronic Show
9. Careers
10. References - Books, Videos, Internet Sites

Volume 2 - " Computer Control of Animatronic Devices " * available soon AMB-0020 $ 85.00
1. Interfaces and CPU’s
2. Sensor Integration
3. Mechanical Integration
4. Software Control
5. Device Integration System Control
6. Sample Projects

Volume 3 - " Animatronic Projects " * available soon AMB-0030 $ 85.00
1. Basic Mechanical Movements (horizontal, vertical, circular)
2. Eye Mechanisms
3. Full Motion Puppet Mechanism
4. Mechanical Turn Table
5. Special Mechanisms / Device Integration

Volume 4 - " Advanced Animatronic Projects " * available soon AMB-0040 $ 85.00
1. Movement Mechanisms for Micro Cameras
2. Complex Mechanical Movements (Butterfly project)
3. Multiple Axis, Motion Mechanisms
4. System Integration
5. Special Effects Mechanisms / Devices
6. Computer Controlled Devices (confetti cannons, lighting equipment)

WHERE  CAN I FIND CABLES (and housings)

(Gold-n-rods etc.)
(those are the colorful nylon push-pull rods (AND MORE) for radio-control-airplanes)
Their site has a big honkin picture of the end of one of the rods :) lol

SAVA-cables in New Jersey (973) 835-0882

"Just" found them on the net ..wOw..INTERESTING .. a prosthetics company with specialized hinges etc. ...don't know how long the cables get.
(click [products] ..then [upper extremity] to get to the cables)

(heard sava & hosmer are expensive details though)

SCHWINN SYLMAR - (Sylmar Cyclery) - (Sylmar California)
(818) 367-1879
(Couldn't find'em on the web) they seemed like nice people etc. (sent me some
small free samples) and they even Mentioned animatronics use in their flyer  they sent .
( prices from - March 1997 )
4mm outer housing - $45 100ft roll
control-wire approx. 50 - 60cents per foot
(Heard when someone called them they said they'ed need a month's lead-time
for an order of about 400ft though details)

SAVA and SCHWINN SYLMAR had 50 foot minimums when purchasing when I called a
couple years ago.

Not really cable-with-housings but good variety of tubing (even microbore)
and seperate cables or wire (music wire etc.?)
(I know a guy who got tubing there made of the same type of plastic that the
sullivan rods were made of (thinner though) and ran his own wire through for
this ...
(housings are red)

CMA CABLE (Bolivar, Ohio)
Have lots of cable but I vaguely remember a roadblock of some sort ...only
sell to oem's or something? ..or have a huge minimum?? ..I forget
(pretty catalogue though)

btw: there might be some companies listed here  too...
if anybody wants to do some digging of their own ...

Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2001 02:14:58 EST
Subject: (List of cable suppliers) & Sullivans Website with BIG closeup :) heh heh

------------   OTHER ANSWERS ... -------------
For small cable VERSALES burbank ca they have the smallest cable around
They will have what you need.
As far as housing you can use the small goldenrod housing that comes in 30 ft.
Robins Hobbies Burbank CA
or use one of the teflon liners from versales
I will mention a very cheap thin cable that puppeteer Hoby Ford told me
about. It was made using thin drip irrigation tubing and fishing leader line
for the cable. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the same kind of
tubing he has used. All the irrigation tubing I find at Home Depot, Lowes,
Northern, and other stores are much thicker than what he used, and useless
for my purposes. His is from Asheville North Carolina, so maybe some of you
who live in that area may be able to find it.
Author: Joe Dunfee
Joe Dunfee,
Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA

(( Q: ))

I originally started off with just the post but I just realized something I'd better mention ...Specializing is good IF you're going to move to somehwere where they'll be able to use you consistantly ..if you're in Philadelphia etc. like mE  where there isn't much of  a movie / spfx / animatronics -industry ..diversifying will save your @$$ every FrEaKiN time and time and time again !
ps: I don't really consider myself IN the animatronics biz though ..I consider myself a "Creative guy" who happens to be able to do quite alot ..which is why this year i've been painting, building, sculpting, drawing, designing, etc.  (note:  still poor though)

a post from the Animatronics-List stated... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In a message dated 12/2/01 2:13:25 AM Pacific Standard Time,
    Well here is my two cents on the subject.......If you plan on coming to
hollywood to do animatronics for movies you need to know your area of
1 painting ?
2 sculpting ?
3 mold making?
4 make up
5 general fabrication and model making?
6 and of course the best part ( mechanical design)

Very few shops care about the jack of all trades type person , They want
specialist in an area....why hire 6 jacks and end up with a fairly nice
product when you can hire 6 specialists and have a top of the line product.
This also goes for theme park stuff I,ve also have worked for Disney's

Basically find what intrests you and concentrate on that but not special
effects.. If your going to do mechanics take machining courses, physics, more
machining, and have a good understanding of mechanisms....gears,levers,
pulleys, the majority of mechanisms for animatronics are pretty sound so re
inventing the wheel is far and few inbetween it is using your knowledge to
think of ways to drive these mechanisms in different configurations is where
the challenge lies.....

As far as the schooling I think only if you decide you want to do make up you
should attent some type of FX school ...other than that most of these courses
will just take your money and leave you high and dry with little learned....

hope this helps
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Chris Editing In :
I Have heard a differing opinion though!
I've heard that the smaller shops can get use out of people that know a little of everything (as long as it's usable skills go ahead and learn it, flaunt it, use'em all)
I have also heard that the larger shops tend to be very segmented (Stan Winstons for example ... a larger shop with a factory attitude (from what i've heard) where you do one specific task all sculpting dinosaur-feet . . . dinosaur-feet . . . day after day  ...dino-feet ...good money though)

(and if you get into a larger shop that does large projects you'll have seperate costumers, painters, sculptors etc. etc.)

although ... hey if you can do it all yourself who needs a shop?


Subj: Re: Animatronics
Date: 1/25/99 11:21:37 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Joe Dunfee)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

You are talking about a medium that really requires a viriety of skills to
do. There is sculpture, puppetry, theater, metalworking, and electronics.
Actually, many simply use the Radio control stuff from the hobby shop - so
for many the electronics part is not necessary.
In high school, you would have available to you classes in electronics,
art, and drama. I would tend to put the art (both sculpture and drawing) as
the most important of them. When you go to someone to sell your skills, they
don't evaluate your technical knowledge as much as your artistic ability.
The 2-D sketching ability is great to be able to show others your ideas.
Also, think about how you will earn your living in such a way that you can
still work part-time with the animatronics. This is so you don't need to
"quit your day job" while you are seeking full-time work with the animatronics.

Joe Dunfee,
Miami, Florida USA
Author: Joe Dunfee

-- - --- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
vSubj: Re: Animatronics
Date: 1/27/99 1:55:06 PM Eastern Standard Time









WHO YOU KNOW!!!!!!!!!



Subj: Re: Animatronics
Date: 1/26/99 3:11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

In a message dated 1/25/99 10:22:00 PM CST, writes:

<< When you go to someone to sell your skills, they
don't evaluate your technical knowledge as much as your artistic ability. >>

Joe, as an former electronic engineer for a creature shop, and current owner
of an effects shop, I simply add that if electronics is what you like to do or
have experience in it, then technical knowledge is very much in demand. I
demand that my sculptors have the technical know how to sculpt what the
designers give them electronics tech.s need to know thier business etc. Though
my shop is small enough to only be a few of us at the moment, we each have our
strong suits and the technical ability to cross over somewhat.

That being said, learning as much as you can about all of the facets of
animatronics can do you no harm. Even as an electronic engineer (in LA where
you can specialize) I occassionally helped a model maker, sculptor, mechanic
etc.. Now since my shop is CONSIDERABLY smaller, I have to call on that
knowledge much more often. You must be yes, but have the technical ability in
whatever your specialty to make it happen.

John Gradwohl
Real Image Productions (RIP)

Fat City Network Services -- (619) 538-5051 FAX: (619) 538-5051
San Diego, California -- Public Internet access / Mailing Lists
* * * * * * * * * *

When using radio-control..FCC-regulations say

Yeah the R2D2 builders group i'm on ran into that ...
Ground-based RC and Air-RC purposely are grouped to run on slightly different frequencies.
That's because when you put a bunch of RC-airplane flyers together they usually know each other are there ..and keep track of each others frequencies so they don't accidentally overlap and crash each others planes into the ground.
(If ground-based people also used the frequencies..some kid could just roll by with a little car and make someone's plane smash through someones window)
(you can sometimes get the air-based transmitter frequency changed by simply changing the crystal .. sometimes it pops right out from the back)



I'd say the major players in animatronics are..  (the most advanced i think)  (gone)
(and my favorite ..   ..just seem like down to earth guys)
(those are all for theme-parks etc.)
as for movie-animatronics i'd say the top is


quick editing in.
in 1998 there was a new silicone called GI-245 which IS an interesitng silicone ..but from what i've heard nowadays the GI silicones just don't hold-up as well .. the general concensis is that ViSil 1068 is somewhat of a standard for skins
(I've heard of Dragonskin being mentioned quite a bit but in my personal opinion skins should be softer)

(editing in: I've also just seen pics of the Red Rose head originally being sold on ebay from Steve Johnson FX (now edge fx) now on disintegrating the same way the head I made from GI-245 has been ..and the statement was that it was obviously because it was a "Tin Based" silicone ..which is what the GI silicones are) (Tin based as opposed to Platinum based)

Generally for people wanting realistic skin it's an advantage to have a material that's fairly "transluscent" so you can tint the silicone itself instead of just painting everything on top for a more realistic look ..BUT..I've also heard from someone at Disney that they don't really worry about that Partially because if you don't take translucency into account you can include a larger number of more Robust silicones to the list that will survuve better (which I suspected)
The surprising thing I saw (on a travel-channel special about Disney) was a tech saying they use Vinyl for some of the disney skins ..which is something i'm going to be trying next.

Another possibility is Latex
It's possible if you want to keep it reaLLY simple to simply make a latex mask for a figure ..I was originally going to type that you don't see alot of latex for Theme-Park types of characters because it's not as long lasting BUT..Actually they still use that technique for the Chucky Cheese characters! ..AND there's a few larger figures that still use latex including most of the Haunted Attraction types of figures.(very inexpensive)
AND ..for Commercials and Movies you'll still see use of "Foam Latex" because if the fact that it's so Lightweight! and probably easier on smaller servos if that's the movement technique you're using.

- - - I figure I'll still leave this older post (1998?) about GI245 though for those interested - - - - - -

soft silicone

ive recieved many questions on this subject
the truth is it couldnt be easier to use. if you can mix a few components
together you can do it.
Circle K Products (909) 695 1955- carries GI245- a silicone with a shore 25
on the 00 scale and with different percentages of plasticizer* it can be
brought off the 00 scale.

*Circle K carries a unique plasticizer to use with the 245, its called A2
and actually chemically crosslinks in the silicone to greatly reduce the
leeching.-noone else carries a product like it.

you just mix and poor. it is best to let it cure overnite but ive made
skins in less than 3 hours with good results.

it can be colored intrinsically or extrinsically with almost anty tint or
pigment. silicone based pigment is best but ive used everything from makeup
to oil paint.

there is so much information and amazing things that can be done with
contact circkle K directly for more info- im also happy to help you out.

best regards,
Michael Doliveck
177 Pacific Street #206
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 581-1964
Om Mani Padma Hum


So THAT's what that was ! :) lol
Do You have the details on the mix ratio of the different chemicals ??

I got some GI-245 about 6 months ago (when it was Just coming out as XP-245)
and First recieved it as a sample (with a blue activator .. aww :( .
When I called to get a clear activator they sent aNother free sample (but THIS
time it had the Base, the Activator-A , and Two Other chemicals A1 & A2) !

I never DID find out what the other two chemicals were exactly . . and ran
low on the sample amount while I was testing it . . . then when I bought a
full gallon it was back to just coming with the 1 activator !


I'd suggest looking at two websites at . . .   (gone)
(has a few graphics showing different possible designs for the Animated Buffalo at Bucknell University)
and . . .
(specifically...  )
That's Jack Buffington's site who made  a character named Arvid with handmade acrylic layered polished eyes ... looks really good)

Subj: Re: Animatronic eye concept
Date: 11/8/98

editing in feb 2009
(NOWadays youtube is an excellent source for eye making info! .. as well as lifecasting etc)
As a matter of fact has some how-to DVD's he's been making and part of an eye mecahnism segment is on youtbe at the moment ..along with videos from another couple people.


I just grabbed a small box (about 5-inches across . . . and open on top) . . and made a cover out of silver-mylar-foam-core that slid down  (sort of like a box cover with no top or bottom . . . just a square ring)
I punched a hole in the bottom-side of the box to stick a vacuum-cleaner hose into.
I built it so there was like . . a little internal ?platform? . . more like an Edge . . to set a square of cardboard onto (with whatever object you were vacuforming over sitting on it) . . . then I taped a piece of plastic over the top of the foam-core sliding-cover . . . theeeen . . . When you plug in the vacuuuum cleaner to add suction . . . put the foam-core top-part on and start heating the plastic square on top with a heat-gun . . . The foam-core top-part (and plastic square) gets sucked down onto the . . . the . . "THING you're vacuforming over" :) . . . in my case a little glass christmas ball . . i mean Eye-ball :)

It was just a Quicky vacuform box just to make the eye-sockets and eyelids . . . I'll probably make a "Good" one later .


I've used..
The machine at the Philadelphia Art Institute,
A friends home-made 8ft machine that used a vacum-cleaner & oven elements (YES a strong vacum-cleaner IS strong enough),
My own "mini cardboard vacuformer" (for parts),
A friends 2x4ft machine that's very well made,
and 2 machines at DNA in New Jersey (one is a home-made 3ftx3ft machine with the table & elements side by side ...and the other is a hUge 8ft old-metal-pro machine with motorized frame to lower the plastic sheeting onto the table)
(That last one cracked our 1/2-inch 4ft wood platform easy because we didn't reinforce it well enough)

(i've read the term in posts from Europe)

 GRP is Glass Reinforced Polyester, (Fiberglass)


Actually I keep hearing that "moulage" is pretty good but I don't know that much about it.
It sounds like some kind of wax (or somthing) that you put in a pot and heat up then stick it on your face. . . . sounds kinda scary to me but people have said they like it.
(There IS One really good point about it which is that if the cast gets screwed-up you can just throw it back into the pot and reheat it and reuse it again !)

Other than that the only other real option that I can think of is if you get the expensive silicone from fx-smith in California (but it costs about $200 for abouuuuuut . . . hmm . . . almost a quart ?? .. hmm . .maybe 3 pints? .. sumthin like that)

people have said plaster too but i've had bad experiences AND heard of worse ones.

(cute story)
(At the University of the Arts in Philadelphia there was some course where they were teaching people to make facecasts with plaster ...everybody teamed-up but the one guy "nobody liked" had to team-up with the teacher who ended-up being kinda busy..teaching.
He got tired of waiting and started the facecast on himself ...the straws in his nose got a little covered and the plaster was wrapped around too much and wouldn't come off ...everybody just kinda sat there and watched for a bit while he was there banging his head on the table  trying to break it off.

(Like I always say ...for every major project like this ..there's always a corresponding "I Love Lucy" episode that you should watch first.)

Subj: Re: [the-fx-mailinglist] live cast materials?
Date: 5/12/98


It's either old .. or mixed wrong .. OR..YOU'RE COPYING SOMETHING MADE FROM "PLASTALINA CLAY"
(or any other clay with a little sulfer inside it)

Platinum Based Clay HATES sulfer ...which is found in most clays.
It hates clay sooo much that if you even store it in the same rOOM sometimes the platinum silicone won't cure when you use it later.

"Klean Klay" is known not to have a negative effect ..and i've heard that Jolly King (King Jolly?) clay works fine.
(no sulfur?)

(Silicones like "GI-1000" etc. etc. etc. don't seem to mind because they're "TIN-based")

Date: 98-07-22 03:08:37 EDT
From: (Robert)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

Yesterday I found a large 1 lb. bottle of never opened silicone
catalyst broken open with the contents all over the floor. Talking
to the tech rep he said that silicone catalyst is only good for
6 months and 6 months after that the catalyst will start to eat away at the
plastic bottle.
This had never happened to me before. I have catalysts that are
many years old and even though they become weaker I have never had
one eat a hole in a plastic bottle. I started to look at the other
catalysts that I had in other plastic containers and found that in
some of the bottles there was a white substance floating in the
liquid which looked like it came from the plastic wall of the container.
The wall was slowly starting to be eaten away. From now on all of my
silicone catalysts will be stored in glass or metal cans.
Has anyone else ever have anything like this happen to them?
Author: Robert

Subj: Re: Old Silicone Catalyst
Date: 98-07-22 10:54:03 EDT
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

>Talking to the tech rep he said that silicone catalyst is only good for
6 months and 6 months after that the catalyst will start to eat away at the
plastic bottle.

LOL ! . . so THAT'S Why the bottle kind of self-destructed all over my
bathroom sink ! ! ! ( thank you )

yeah I got a couple bottles from a friend that're pretty old and the bottles
Are holding up But they are getting weak around the bottom edges .
Actually one did leak through finally . . . i could finger-paint on my sink .
. that was fun :) . . . . preeetty greeeen :)

I sure hope my 10 bottles of catalyst that i got On Sale are still gonna be ok
. . they're at the 8-month mark . . they're not leaking but i havn't tested
how strong they still are (I didn't even want to Open anything till I was
ready finally to use'em)

or is there something else more realistic?
If Foam Latex is my best bet, then

Actually foam is probably the Softest and Lightest material you can use which is Great ! .. the down sides are that you Do need to mix it correctly (even the pros expect to possibly have to do it a second or third  time since the foam latex acts a little different each time because of Little things like temperature and age of the batch etc.) and the other problem "I" had (a long time ago when I was in high-school trying my first mechanical girl with a latex face) was that I thought I'd cast it from the front then TRIM away the latex from the back .. but when I Tried that and looked at the Front it started making her look like an old lady !! (As I trimmed it fiddled with the tension in the porous foam and made Wrinkles on the front)

SILICONE is more expensive but easier to mix and stronger etc. (The problems you run into aaare ... nothing supposivly sticks to it (but that's not totally true.. silicone caulk works fine .. not GReat but fine) and it's Tough to paint on ! (although I've heard that naptha and universal-tints (the type you get at a hardware store) works well.)
With My head I didn't really paint it at all except for the lips slightly (I actually just got a milky-clear silicone and added "a little" oil-paint to the mix to get a natural looking flesh-color.) (then cheated and mixed a little caulk and paint then took a sponge and patted on the lip-color ... ... hey Hey stop laughin it worked fine :)

You'll notice that people who use latex usually have some kind of "inner core" to their moulds so that they control the Outside surface AND the Inside surface shape with the moulds (then INJect the latex Into the mould to get it into every section etc.)
(latex is great if you have the exact thicknesses pre-planned)

with my Silicone head I was able to basically just Brush (well..mush) the silicone into the front & back halves of the mould then just put them together .. reach in through the neck and add a little more silicone to the seams where they meet and wait a while then pull it out ... THEN trim the silicone from the insides to get the mouth to "fold" and bend in the correct places etc. !
(That was the fun part . . after you get the right thicknesses etc. it looks like some guy making faces at you even without motors :)

soooo .. .oh well . . . i guess my votes for silicone .. . although if you had trouble finding ALginate just wait till you start trying to find silicone !
(you'll really have to start digging a little)
If you decide you want to try it try . . .

I don't remember if smooth-on actually makes silicone BUT the same people who carry smooth-on products Very Well may have silicone as well !
(at least that's the way it seems in the US)

If you go that route the other big warning would be that there's platinum-based silicone and there's tin-based silicone (the Platinum based silicones usually Hate Sulfer ! .. which means that if you've used Any plastalina clay (or any other clay that happens to have sulfur in it) the platinum based silicone wont even THink about curing !!!
The most popular silicone I know of is GI-1000 which is a tin-based silicone which mixes easily (I've done it by eye with no big problems.. although people laugh at me when I tell'em that :) (the bad effect of that is that it can become brittle "down the road" if the amounts are off) but the gi-1000 version's not that soft ( There's something out here in the states called GI-245? (but i'm not sure that's a standard name) you'd probably have to look into it a bit to find one soft enough.

hope this stuff helps.

Take a look at my project page at . . .
and scroll down to the little head pic and click on it if you want to see the process laid-out that I used to make My silicone head (it only goes half-way but Does explain most of the moulding and casting process)


I put the most useful links towards the top of each section but then the second most useful are scattered in the group.


 ANYWays . .if you wanna try finding a servo-in-skull how-to the best I know about is Somewhere in "" .




We have been
trying to kill some German-made Multiplex servomotors that the
manufacturer claims have a 400,000 hour life. We haven't killed one yet.  ?
(Subj: Re: german servomotor and dmx-servo-controller)
Date: 7/14/98
NOW that's an old answer from 10 years back ..A: I think Multiplex has merged with .. Hitec?? (from memory) .. and B: the answer may have actually changed about 2 years later because Animalmakers which were the ones who did alot of the testing seemed to have een using alot of Futaba servos (judging from their ebay auctions)


Subj: Re: Hefty Servos
Date: 98-04-18 20:35:37 EDT
From: (Herb Montes)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

At 08:30 PM 4/17/98 -0800, you wrote:
>>We wish to control larger motors than are available in RC servos. My
>>approach is to take apart the servo & clip off & discard the motor & gear
>>Joseph Osborne
> Are you aware that "hobby" servos are available that have 50 oz-inches of
>torque? I think Tower hobby carries them. How much torque do you need?
>Joe Dunfee

The largest servo available is an industrial power servo sold by Hobby
Lobby. Send $2.50 for their catalog containing RC components and motors
for electric planes from:

Hobby Lobby International
5614 Franklin Pike Circle
Brentwood, Tennessee 37027

The servo is cat. # HLSI1562 and has a torque of 33 pounds of force at the
output arm. It measures 3 1/4" long, 2 3/4" high, 1 1/2" wide, and sells
for $179. It requires its own 6 volt power supply and can be used with any
brand radio system, it just needs the connector for that brand.

Get the catalog, its got lots of great stuff to tinker with.


(Editing in: this is another 1998 answer that i'll edit sometime soon ..
I'll search around for a while and see what the largest rc consumer servo is nowadays ..Servos have been getting larger and larger over the past few years because they're being used for hobby robotics more and more AND Radio-Control Airplanes are getting Larger and Larger! ... IS a great source as well as  ...for Lowest prices I look at also which is a chinese supplier (Hong Kong) but great for quantity and smaller micro-servos etc.)

A common "Large" servo is the Tonegwa-Seiko servo (Available in the US from ) as well as other interesting motors and linear actuators)

 >My approach is to take apart the servo & clip off & discard the motor & gear
train. Then run the motor output leads into a current amplifier circuit and
connect the motor to them.
>Has anyone done this? What were the results?

- - - - -
Hello all,Yes I've done that,It does work I recomend using opto isolators
between your servo electronics and your driver circuit this is the best way to
eliminate any noise that may pop up.........I'v used this to control stepper
and AC motors from rc servo boards also.

Eric Princz
Creative Design & Engineering
- - - --

 Actually "I" really need an answer to this also .
"I" always had the assumption that I could just connect the motor leads to a
couple solid-state-relays , then run whatever motor I wanted through the
relays . That was before I realized that the servos had proportional voltage
going to the motor (the voltage tapers off as the gear get's closer to the
intended position so the motor won't overshoot.)

I've seen a few larger servos Too but have totally been put off by the prices
The catalogs I'VE seen have been Vantec and CK-electronics . .
Vantec 1 805-929-5055 neat stuff :)
CK 1 805-522-3750 . . hmm . . well . . I see a servo for $199 that says
6-8.4V gives 907 oz/in to 1271 oz/in (how many oz's in a pound again ?? . .
and What the *&$^&%* Happened to switching to the Metric Sytem ! ! ? ! ?! .
.I've been FrEaKIN Waitin for YeArS for the US to . . . . oops sorry)


I've found a circuit using two LM12 op amps (3 amps) which looks like it would do the job. However it seems there ought to be some way to use low power op amps- e.g.741's to adjust voltages and TIP31 transistors to amplify current to drive a 2 amp 24 volt motor. However I am getting tangled in the fact that the transistors are one way polarity devices. The main sticking point is I want to use a 24 volt motor and a single +24 volt power supply. If I used a ¤24 (plus & minus) 24volt supply it would be easier.

What kind of circuitry did you use? Is anything available off the shelf?

Joseph Osborne
Arlyn Toolworks
Rehab Robotics


What I did was to use a low cost rc servo for its electronics((futaba)) just a
side note Signetics used to sell a Great servo chip...The sn544,,It allowed
you to change the servos dead band,pulse width responce and other features
they had probably 50 pages of tech notes.
I took the output leads that went to the motor and wired a 150 ohm resistor
to one of the leads then i wired a 2501 opto coupler in place of the
motor,then i wired a second opto in reverse of the first.....when the servo
goes forward opto 1 operates when the motor reverses opto 2 operates when the
feedback pot= the motor postion nether opto isolates the output of the opto
isolators drive a H-bridge motor driver using 3055 npn transistors(or mosfets
for more power)

Eric Princz
Creative Design & Engineering

>Ps H-bridges CAN use a single edge supply.


From: (Mark Lerman)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

There was an article in Circuit Cellar Ink that detailed a digital
implementation of an RC servo using a PIC microprocessor and an H bridge.
Very inexpensive, plus you can adjust the deadband, etc (in firmware).

Mark Lerman

I don't remember the issue number, but I'll look for it. They are on the web or some such thing, so you could probably do a


>I've found a circuit using two LM12 op amps (3 amps) which looks like it
would do the job. However it seems there ought to be some way to use low
power op amps- e.g.741's to adjust voltages and TIP31 transistors to
amplify current to drive a 2 amp 24 volt motor. However I am getting
tangled in the fact that the transistors are one way polarity devices. The
main sticking point is I want to use a 24 volt motor and a single +24 volt
power supply. If I used a ¤24 (plus & minus) 24volt supply it would be

LM12's are very expensive parts. The only reason ever to use them is if
space is critical. You can match
their preformance very closely by using a TL071 and hooking up external
current amplification. The basic
circuit does require a split supply, but you can get around that by using a
H bridge configuration. The
only problem is that you then require 4 output transistors. The best
devices to use is undoubtedly TIP142/
TIP147 pairs. The exact circuit you are looking for is very simple,
essentially a single supply audio
amplifier with the frequency compensation devices left out.

Author: Nic van der Walt


If you know of any contacts that would be of help, please let me know.


Where do I get supplies for animatronics?
Date: 12/10/99 8:23:43 PM Eastern Standard Time
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

A good place to start is Effective Engineering . (gone now)
There is a links page on that site that will help you find other suppliers.  has a wierd
animatronic head kit that might help you get some ideas.
Animatronics Resource Site This is wyvern's site, she has compiled a nice list of
several different resurces including videos and books to help you out.
Remember to always check out the links on these pages because they will lead
you to other useful places for information.
Happy surfing!
Scott McDonnell

ALso .. check out

(Mostly I tell people to hit my links-page at ...  (now  and scroll down to "electronics and
animatronics suppliers (that's 2 different sections) and click away)

There really isn't much so much a thing as "animatronic parts" though ...
I just basically describe animatronics as a complex sculpture ... you can get
the Clay .. you can get the Plaster .. you can get the Iron .. you can get
the Plastic .. but you don't go out and buy "Sculpture Parts" like an arm and
a leg and a twisty abstract torso and put it on exhibit.
The parts ARE ...
Pistons (get'em at Herbach & Rademan or C&H)
Relays and Electronics ("I" like All-Tronics myself .. or is it
Fiberglass or Lexan etc. etc. (hit the phone-book)
Latex ("I" get it at Cementex down the street .. hit the halloween pages)
Silicone (Polytek or PTS)
Steel (phone book)
Tubing, solenoid-valves, Wire, Control-systems, Audio systems, Fur, Eyeballs,
teeth, (aww heck just hit the links-page and click on Everything)

>I don't know where
>to start looking for the mechanical components. And what short cuts,
>tricks, and where to get the cheapest stuff?

Seriously ... for REAL ANIMATRONICS .. what people do is trade and buy Old Animatronics figures etc. (hit ebay) if they want to get the parts used.
Entire old Rides etc. (complete with figures will get sold off at a time (or
Thrown Out ... whimper :(

for Cheap Animatronics yeah hit the RC section of the Hobby-store.
a gOOd one will have cables and all ! (I just picked up some NICE ones at
Allied-Hobby (48inch flex-cable with housing and hardware du-bro#344) and
they'll have alot of levers and specialized hinges, collars and wheels etc.
(not chEEp cheep cheep but good variety)
But mostly get a pile of surplus catalogs and shop by mail for cheep prices)

I really gotta add a section on Dumpster-Diving on my site too !!

Subj: Air brushes
Date: 12/14/99 10:44:01 PM Eastern Standard Time
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

I have the opportunity to purchase a Badger airbrush 200. Has any one used
this brand an if it is worth the money? If not, does anyone have any
suggestions as to which brand and models are the best.

(Editing in: A Quick up to date Answer is check out !! ..They have Inexpensive versions of good airbrushes for about half the price ..AND for larger projects a good range (Cheap) of larger guns can be from !! .. I had a couple good airbrushes from BearAir but when I was working on a Mural and they clogged from the crappy paint I was using the tiny $15 backup sprayguy was a lifesaver : ) heh heh

Air brushes (long winded reply :)
Date: 12/15/99 5:10:56 AM Eastern Standard Time
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

>I have the opportunity to purchase a Badger airbrush 200.
>Has any one used this brand an if it is worth the money?

To really know whether it''s a good idea you have to say what you're going to
run through it (and what size work) and how much you're actually PAYing for
it !
(it looks like they're only $56-$61 NEW !)

actually i've worked with ..
2 badgers
5 paasches
2 iwatas (one really small and the one BIG gun)
2 Aztecs (good as long as you can afford a new $9 plastic tip every couple
weeks .. which we could :)
and a couple of those big ones from home-depot
and they ALL just have different personalities ... you just grab the right
one for the right job (and the one that somebody remembered to clean)
(and it iiis nice to have a backup :) lol

Subj: Re: Air brushes
Date: 12/14/99 11:09:31 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Brian Duchscherer)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

> I have the opportunity to purchase a Badger airbrush 200. Has any one used
> this brand an if it is worth the money?

Sorry, I don't know anything about the Badger...
I've used a Paasche VL for 15 years now. It's great for model work.
It's interchangeable tips and needles allow this double-action airbrush
to spray anything from inks and watercolors to latex rubber and
silicones. It's a real workhorse!

Author: Brian Duchscherer
INET: puppet@CAM.ORG


Date: 12/15/99 12:15:27 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Steve Axtell)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

We work with latex all the time and use the Paasche H 3 & 5 tips. There is
no internal mixing like the VL has.




about using your links list to find disabilities solutions?
Date: 2/2/00 5:16:07 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Jim Felton)

Hi I found your page on the Robot resource page. Thanks for putting up
all the links.
Would you be willing to talk about which groups can help turning the
techniques of animatronics toward solutions for folks who have grasping
and walking disabilities?
I am a consultant and community activist who finds solutions for people
with disabilities who want to use computers to better interact with
other people.
Jim Felton
HumanCom: Disabilities Computer Access Solutions

Cheap lifesized skeletons  ( $77 )
Subj: Re: HALL:
Date: 4/30/99 11:16:12 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Brian Lorsung)

I got mine yesterday. I was suprised at how realistic it is. I was expecting
that it would be simplified, and several bones would be cast as a single piece.
This thing looks like all the bones are there, all wired together. What are you
going to do to yours Joe?

Gristle P.,
It's not on their web site. You had to call and ask for a "class 4 budget bucky
without stand". This was a special that they offered for the Chicago Transworld
show. Someone had a post about it after the show. I called and they gave me the

Brian ( The Man Without a Nickname )

Joe Pfeiffer wrote:

> Well I finally received the $77 full sized articulated skeleton from the
> anatomical chart co. I have never in my years of haunting seen such great
> looking full sized skeleton for under $100.
> Home haunters may think $77 is a lot, but add up a couple trips to the
> department stores on your prop hunting and you can add up to $77 quickly.
> This thing will look even better with a little paint and latex. Has anyone
> else bought one of these things?
> Joe


Subj: HALL: Pics of $77 Budget Bucky
Date: 5/4/99 12:10:04 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Brian Lorsung)
To: (

Here are some pictures of the $77 skeleton. That includes shipping, by
the way.

Now order one, or two.

Brian ( The Man Without a Nickname )

Nowadays the Budget Bucky skeletons seem like they're selling here and there ..
The original supplier is..  ($165??)
I don't remember the details but they're also now sold at ..  ($120?)
But if you look up Budget Bucky skeletons (4th Quality) on google you'll find other suppliers.

(The "4TH Quality" remark is because they're supposesd to have lower quality control to the point where a limb might be missing or sometimes instead of 2 arms and 2 legs you'll get an arm and 3 legs : ) lol (even scARier! : )
(always ask about quantiy discounts!)



What is your job like?
Date: 4/25/99 5:51:42 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Daniel O'Toole)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

The end of school is in sight and I'm starting to get worried that I'm
going to end up in a factory like my internship two years ago. I'm 99%
sure I want to do some sort of product design or special
effects/animatronics type job, but I need to know more about animatronic
related jobs before I completely dedicate most of my time and effort
pursuing it. I need to be sure it's what I think it is.

I would really appreciate it if anyone who works in a robotics, sculpting
or animatronics type job could answer any or all of these questions:

What is your job like and where are you located?
What do you do during the day?
What do you like about your job and what do you not care for?
What does your work area look like? (cubicle, lab, etc.)
How do you dress?
How much do you make? (this is obviously optional)
How did you get your job and what kind of experience/education is required?
Who decides what you are going to work on next?
Do you work by yourself or do you work on a team?
What are the deadlines like?
And anything else you can think of...

Also, how do I find a list of companies that deal mainly with animatronics?
Every now and then I run across a name in the paper or Cinefex or
something like that, but the ones I hear most often are Stan Winston's
Creature Shop and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. How do I find the smaller
companies that are sprinkled across the country?


Daniel O'Toole
Help honor Jim Henson with a US commemorative stamp:
Author: Daniel O'Toole

if you want to hear how things are on the Bottom of the barrel (lol :)
"I" and most of the people I know work for themselves (AND maybe also have a
teaching job, or are married to someone with a regular job OR live at home
etc. etc. etc. ..Something just to keep things stable) which means that if
you can make it work .. you work the way you want, where you want, dress
however, work on their own (unless you bring some poople IN to help (and give
them a portion of your money :) or tell the client that they'll need to get
an extra person or two to handle various parts of the project and let Him pay
for them etc.
Money can be high OR low (i'm in philadelphia so it's aaaalways low) (ed.
note: help get me outta here) BUT .. the one thing I can say IS that the
deadlines are ALways treacherous when it comes to TV or FILM . . commercial
ad execs always seem to shmoose shmoose shmoose then with a week to go say
"Oh Yeah .. almost forgot .. Who are we gonna have BUILD this thing ?"

FILM .. well i dunno . .i've only heard stories. (ask the newsgroup)

I have a friend that just started at Dinomations in CA. (the guys who make
the pneumatic dinosaurs for museums etc.) and he LOVES it ! (and the
deadlines are stable and months down the road etc. Regular hours. Nice
environment (i think). (hasn't had a bad thing to say about it.)



To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

In a message dated 3/14/99 1:49:51 PM EST, writes:

<< Hey guys. I am working on a project where I need to make a life-size
animatronic bird (Parrot or Toucan) that is motion sensor activated. My plan
was to sculpt the prototype, create a negative, use both to make a hard,
plastic like shell, then saw off the head so that it can rotate. I want to
about three or four servos to move the head, torso, wings, and possibly blink
the eyes. But at the same time, keeping the movements looking natural. Plus I
would also like to mount it on a small base so that I can easily transport it
for demonstrative purposes. Any help that can be given, from ideas to
suggested or needed to how it can be done will be greatly appreciated.

-- >>
Birds! My favorite! I've done 3 different kinds of Ravens that were electric
servo and stepper controled.I have a Pirate Parrot that is Pneumatic:beak,head
tilt,head turn,head nod,breathing,right leg,body tilt,3 position body turn.I
also started an Owl that has :beak,horn/ear turn,glowing eyes,and a multi
posisition head turn.

My first ones started with decoy and Taxidermy forms...the next generation
were made from fiberglas copies from a urethane mold.The parrot is Vacuformed
plastic over a plaster positive cast in sections with a fiberglas head.

One of the best tricks for birds is a 4 way stretch fabric from National
Fiber Tech called " Bird Fur" its around $140 a square foot but it moves GREAT
for flexible joints the best way to colour it is to airbrush it with inks and
brush your pattern in with a dog grooming brush.

Eric Princz



Tech-optics (eyes, human prosthetic)
699 west line street
East Bishop, Ca 93514

(760) 873-3131


( They keep a fairly good supply of small cable
assemblies too.


Subj: Re:
 thin cable and housings
Date: 3/26/99 9:18:51 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Arthur Brill)
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

I just built a rooster puppet using Sullivan cables... .032 was the
smallest I found that included the housing, but it was only 36" long.

I picked up a 15 foot roll of some thinner cable a while back at my local
RC shop, but I forget the manufacturer. It had no housing, however.

I would suggest talking to a plastics company (Cadillac and Piedmont
plastics are in my neck of the woods) for the housing. Small diameter nylon
tubing should not be hard to find.

Arthur Brill
Ashland, Va

Author: Arthur Brill


Subj: Re:
thin cable and housings anywhere ??
Date: 3/30/99 3:55:23 PM Eastern Standard Time
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

For small cable VERSALES burbank ca they have the smallest cable
They will have what you need.
As far as housing you can use the small goldenrod housing that comes in 30 ft.
Robins Hobbies Burbank CA
or use one of the teflon liners from versales


I will mention a very cheap thin cable that puppeteer Hoby Ford told me
about. It was made using thin drip irrigation tubing and fishing leader line
for the cable. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the same kind of
tubing he has used. All the irrigation tubing I find at Home Depot, Lowes,
Northern, and other stores are much thicker than what he used, and useless
for my purposes. His is from Asheville North Carolina, so maybe some of you
who live in that area may be able to find it.

Joe Dunfee,
Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA

Author: Joe Dunfee


3 companies mentioned

Subj: Re: Absolutely Fantastic!
Date: 1/13/99 7:49:35 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Michael Lucas +61 7 3365 4091)

>>I've just been looking at your animatronics website. You're a legend!
>awww thaaanks :) (so true so true :) ( just kiddin :)
>>Oneday, when I'm a real animatronics practitioner, and not just an arty
>engineer aspiring to that lofty role in life, I'll have to thank you properly!
>Actually it's still good Now too ! :) (I'm not really that much of a
>practitioner yet either . .mostly i've been doing displays etc. and havn't had
>much chance to make Full Fledged animatronic figures etc. .. BUT i still
>figured that as "I" found information .. Other people could probably use the
>same things I was finding )
>>By the way, you wouldn't happen to need an animatronics engineer to help out
>would you?
>>I've got the surname, and the skills, just not any real experience yet!!
>:) lol . . Actually I don't have enough work + money yet :( . . right now
>it's just "me in my little apartment" trying to be as creative as possible for
>a couple years .
>Sounds like we're in about the same spot .
>Chris Hillman
>Animatronics guy ("In Progress")
>So what's happening in Austrailia nowadays (animatronics wise ) ?
>And what does Mechanimation do ?? :)
>Let me know if there's any sites i missed :)


I've finally rediscovered your reply to my message from November, and
thought I should answer the questions you put down there.

First of all, I can't find any sites you've missed - I went through all of
my links and each and every one of them was already on your page. (Superb

As for animatronics in Australia, there are really only 3 groups doing much
at all. There's Chris Chitty's Robotechnology, who do a lot of the stuff
for Hercules and Xena, as well as quite a bit for the museums around
Australia and New Zealand. John Cox has a place called Creatures Workshop
(I'm sure Hensons are going to go after him oneday for that!), which is
actually in the building next door to Robotechnology. They are doing most
of the stuff for the local film industry (such as the sheep in the original
"Babe the Pig" movie). The only other one is Showtronix, who do the
themeparks and instore displays. Theres also a lot of smaller groups who
do subcontract work for the "big three".

As for Mechanimation, its a company I set up to try to get into the
industry in the cheapest way possible. Basically I've done a few little
projects for various customers - our local Junior Chamber of Commerce held
a Gala Ball on Halloween for which I made up a few animatronic pumpkins
(Eyes that glowed as if on fire, features that moved with muscle wire) and
bats (more of that muscle wire!). The core of the business has been
providing plain old mechanical or electrical design or information
technology to mining and farming companies - I figured thats fairly easy
work and they pay well, so that should build the capital to get properly
into animatronics. In the meantime it allows me to eat while I finish off
this crazy PhD in my spare time!

Anyway, I'd best get back to work.


Michael Lucas BE(Mech) P.Eng *email
Managing Director *Ph +61 7 3365 4091 (BH)
Mechanimation Technology Services Australia *Ph +61 7 3260 7584 (AH)
PO Box 18 *Fax +61 7 3266 5449
St Lucia QLD 4067 *Mob 0419 737 869
Mechanimation Technology Services Australia (BN 7094395)
IT, Mechatronics and Animatronics for Agriculture, Mining and Cinema
"Let us turn your challenge into an opportunity!"

Queensland Young Professional Engineer of the Year 1998



dgWhat are the
> cheapest ServoValves I could expect to find ??
> And would anybody here suggest some other approach ??

$2,400.00 Flow rate is the biggest determining factor on how high the
price will go.

> I always hear a vague suggestion that servovalves always cost around $1000
> etc. but don't remember any particular prices (yeah yeah i know i know . . i'm
> the guy with 100's of links . . . but the "hydraulics" section has always been
> very lacking :(

The $1,000 is an old number, back when everything was less expensive.

fSubj: Pneumatic Servo Valves
Date: 12/11/98 11:33:54 AM Eastern Standard Time
To: (Multiple recipients of list ANIMATRONICS-L)

There are several servo valves available at prices much lower than $2400.00
You will find some real good ones on the web at plus
controllers and appnotes.
Give it a looksee.
Vince McCarroll
Motion Control Products Mgr.
This system is called Positionex, by Numatics, Inc. 810-887-4111. The
inventor of much of it is Vince McCarroll,, who is with
RoboHand in Monroe, CT. It lets you do a very accurate, repeatable
motion for far less than $2,400.

Joseph Osborne

Joseph Osborne
President, Arlyn Toolworks
c>I'm using FESTO valves and can control the actuators resonably accurately.

ahh .. found'em at (good .. another pneumatics co. for the list)
. . . so what are their prices like ?? ( their catalogue doesn't mention
prices :(


(( Q: ))
If I were looking to get into making animatronics stuff for any level of the industry (from private collectors to films) what would be the best route?

(( A: ))
My take is that there's the Movie Industry Animatronics (which very often are
run with radio-control servos (regular or Industrial strength !) or cables
etc.) which are built to give a performance which can be directed and changed
with each shot etc.
And there's Entertainment animatronics (Disney to Chucky Cheese) which
you'll probably find will run on Hydraulics or Pneumatics (hope I spelled that
right) mostly because motor-based systems wont have the Life-span of the pistons
etc. in those figures .
(The only motor will be in the compressor behind the wall somewhere that can be changed-off so often)

There's also a route that I was thinking of taking that's not really animatronics but Radio-Controlled Robotics where you rent-out a robot for Trade-shows etc. (you strap on a microphone and talk to the crow through the robot etc.) (I've heard a rolling robot can ask for almost $1000 a day . . . but that may be pretty steep)

I'm not sure What it'll be like getting into the movie-industry but the trick there is to be able to build a character (most likely that fits someone elses design) within a tight deadline and get it to give a realistic performance, on cue, etc. (the Money can be great (i dunno) . . but the Movie Industry is the Movie Industry . . . it's project to project and you have to build a reputation)

If you want to build them for trade-shows etc. you have to build something that can be Re-used (and re-used and re-used) without falling apart. They have to be built as a complete system that can be packed moved without toooo much difficulty (I know Dinomations Large T-Rex actually Folds-Up to be shipped from museum to museum !!) and you should probably expect to have a complete "self running" system that you can adapt for each client .

As for Theme Parks . . . hmm . . . If you can make something that'll run 16
hours a day for years . . well then go for it :) (Oh yeah . . buy a welding
kit) lol :)
Do a keyword search for "Sarcos" if you want to see the Top-of-the-line
in that arena right now (They did the Jurrassaic Park Ride for Universal
Studios) (They also build telerobotic systems etc.)

It all depends on what you feel you'll be best at I suppose .

>Are there any good publications out there that lay out tips, projects,
>industry standards?

I've heard of a book called "The Art of Illusion" ? (I may have the title
wrong) by Gene W. Poor . I havn't actually seen it but I've heard it was
pretty good and gave examples of work from different companies . . . or
somthing like that :)
"I" also like to suggest the book "No Strings Attached" (The Inside Story of
Jim Hensons Creature Shop) which doesn't give Elaborate details but Does
Alot of good photos (alot) and Does go over alot of the processes involved .
There's also a book called 'Special Effects in Film and Television !" by
DK-press which is worth it Just for the picture on the cover (of an Ape head
made by Jim Henson Co. that's split and is so close-up that you can see all
cable routings and even where they put the little blobs of Silicone-Glue to
hold the thing together ! ! !) (droooooool)

As for Industry Standards .. . that seems to change constantly I guess . .
companies usually keep hush hush on the Cool details (but you always hear
stories about the videos that travel around showcasing the stuff that the
systems can do . . in some wierd demonstrations sometimes :) (behind the
type stuff :)

Chris Hillman
Animatronics guy (In Progress)-( been takin Way too long :( man i'm poor :(
(Home of over 1000-links to Animatronics, Robotics, and Special-Effects !)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Subj: Re: HEELP!
Date: 9/5/98

(( Q: ))
>what material i will need to make things like face-masks etc..

Usually people use "alginate" (made from algae) to put over the face . . it hardens to a rubbery like substance in a few minutes (then you put plaster over that (make sure you leave a hole around the nose for the person to Breathe through :)
(ps: I noticed that for Every good project like this there tends to be a corisponding "LUCY" episode that you should probably consult before starting ! :) lol

Alginate is the stuff that Dentists use to make molds of your Teeth ( the dental stuff tastes like Mint ! . . mmmm :)
(The plaster is to hold the rubbery alginates overall shape when it comes off.)

Then you pour in plaster to make a plaster head . . . then you sculpt on top of that (scuplt the mask) . . then make a negative plaster mould of That . . . then inject with foam-latex . (look at Burmans site)

Actually ! . .HERE"S an Email I got from someone a while ago (OR i got it off the newsgrouup "alt.movies.visual-effects" )

second version included here . .from newsgroup . .

- - - - -

Ok here is the rough draft.

First get a woochie bald cap appliance and put it on the subject to be cast.
Grease down eyebrows and any other facial hair with vaseline. (It is best if the person is well shaved.)

Get some "alginate impression material" and mix it up acording to the enclosed directions. GET AN

Have the subject in a comfortable chair that reclines ever so slightly.

Glop the alginate on the subect from top to bottom, put small straws in the nostrals to allow breathing. Completly enclose the head down to about the shoulders.
( the person should not have a shirt on, rather a torn garbage bag taped th his back and chest to catch dropped alginate.)

Let the crap dry and then apply sections of plaster bandages to the front half of the goop only.
(turn on some music and make sure your subject is calm and relaxed.)

Now, when your sure that the first half of the plaster bandages is dry and stiff, grease up the sides of the plaster with more Vaseline and apply plaster bandages to the back.
IMPORTANT!, the greased plaster is to keep the front half and back half from sticking and ruining your work. Dont let the second batch of plaster over lap the first on any ungreased portion!, You will nuke your efforts when removing the crap!

Let the second half dry and then remove it from the alginate CAREFULLY!.

Now CAREFULLY take small scissors and cut a line in the alginate from the
middle back to the top of the impression material.

Have the subject lean foward and make small expressions with his/ her face. The subject
should have been instructed to keep a neutral expression through this but I didnt think to tell you that until now.
Slowly and carefully support the mold and wiggle the subjects face free,
take the back of the plaster prt and squirt some Fixodent on it and smear it around a

Reassemble the plaster parts together and use fixodent on flaps of alginate that dont want to stay in place.

Get some plaster mixed up and start pouring baby!!!

Now there are a lot of things to worry about but I just wanted to give
you a general idea. Work carefully but fast!. Alginate is water based
and will shrink up after a hour or so. Just a bit but enough to throw
off your mold.
Let the mold sit for a day before removing the alginate, then you will
have a bust. Then your work has just begun!!!!

[second post]

Ok, you were lucky and now you have a bust of your subject. It is made
of plaster and weighs fifty pounds but now it is time to sculpt.
Get some non drying clay (Not Playdough) and use a rolling pin to thin out
some thin uniform strips. put the clay all over the face and smooth it
out until the whole dome is covered in about 3/16th in. of clay. sculpt
out a bilateraly symetrical grid on the bastad and thats it. you should
plann out to have 108 pin holes. 108 is how many pins are in Pinhead
(the number is the same amount of beads in a catholic rosery, Go
figgure, Barker is a nut!!!) dont try to sculpt pins, it will never
Now you have to make a two piece mold of this monster. I would grease
the puppy up with vaseline (see a patter emerging?) and mix up a small
amount and then coat the front carefully. let this thin starter coat
dry and then apply a thicker coat and then let it dry for some time.
grease up the sides of the first half and do the same on the backside.
IMPORTANT!!! I am tired and dont feel like really going into the whole
process, but look out for undercuts. Undercuts are things that will
prevent your mold from seperating. if you have a bent nose, and dont
think that a mold will be able to be pulled free, then use some clay to
even it out. On your edges of the plaster mold, make sure their smooth
and not real bumpy, cause even though you might have greased them down,
they can form a wicked interlocking conglomerate of plaster that you may
never get free. I learned this the hard way and lost a great batman
mask. Read more on casting at your local library!!!
Part three soon!
Greg Solis

[post #3]

Ok, you have this plaster positive mold with clay stuck all over it and
two halves of a outter mold. Careful, dont break em.
Clean all the clay off the plaster parts and use acetone on a brush if you have to.
let the plaster dry for a day, its oily and you need a break after all
that work. have a six pack of beer and imaging how cool your gonna look
on halloween. next day get back to work.

The idea is that you now have an outter mold and a plaster positive of
you!. The mask dosent call for much latex so you should be able to fill
the area between possitive and negative with latex. I would suggest
using injected foam latex and baking the thing. You probably want a
simpler idea, so here it is. set the two pieces down carefully and
dripple some liquid latex into the molds. Swirl it around and let it
spread out, but not real close to the edges. You will have to keep it
thinner then the area taken up by the clay. but not by much. Dab liquid
latex all over the face of the model and let these dry. The idea is to
fill by hand the areas needed to take up the place of the clay. Then
glue this crap to your face. Now when this is dry, dab some fresh
liquid latex all over the parts done and reassembel the mold. Now we
have to flip this thing and pour latex into the seam areas. I would try
and inject it in with a horse syringe (pet store, feed store) or a turky
If you had an oven that could fit a bust, i would tell you to use foam
latex and just inject it, but, this idea is all I got right now. let
this puppy cure for at least a day or two in the warmest area you can
get. Attic, what ever.
Then when your ready, take it apart gently and hope that your rubber
parts are together, and dont tear when you remove the plaster. You need
a seperator, on your plaster before you start applying the latex in the
mold, but I cant think of any right now. Perhaps a light coat of KY.
Cant use Vaseline here, cuz it eats up latex like popcorn. Now you have
a rubber mask with a grid on it. You will have to make molds of some
small nails and GLUE them individually to the mask after you have
applied it to your face. I wouldnt try and put real nails through the
mask because it would rip.
Grease paint, atatude, and a cool black costume, is all you need now.
This is the WAY over view of what your gonna need to do. So go get some
books from your library and read stuff by Dick Smith, Tom Savini,
Richard Corsen, Herman Buchman, and anyone under special make up
I Really Hope this helps.
Greg Solis

Visit my site and see my madness....
Sign my guest book!!!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(( Q: ))
I wonder if it would be possible to send me some
larger scans of the two preliminary designs for the head,

(( A: ))
Oh those aren't "preliminary designs" for "This" head . . . they're prekiminary designs of an Older head i made in High-school .

Actually I don't even Have any better scans for myself either ! :( sniff sniff

right now I have to scan everything through my Camcorder ! so All my scans turn out pretty crappy :(

It's no great loss though because it was basically just a bunch of solenoids tugging at the latex-mask at the right points .
Along with a couple stepper-motors to run the neck and a stepper-motor + regular motor moving the eyes .

( no big complex construction techniques or anything )

AND it sucked because the mask was too thick.

But it Was fun ! :)


- ----- - - - - - - - - -

Subj: Re: No Subject
Date: 06/25/98

(( Q: ))
> . . and would like to work for a company as a sculptor.

One of the best sources for names etc. for NY on the Net is the JVIII shop at Keystone ?? (It's under the "Search - methods and engines" section at the bottom of my links page) It has listings for CA too but has ALOT of names of production companies . . artists . . scenery shops etc. etc. for the NY area .

The Other best source I'd try would be to get a couple of the "Film & video" guides that NY has (listings of companies and services for the film & video industry) ..They end up giving a better impression of who's who since they have to spend a little money and pay for a whole ad etc. . . you can (sort-of) tell which places are bigger and which ones are smaller etc. ( sort-of :)

I've heard of something called the New York Yellow Pages (for the film industry etc.) . . . but don't have the number at the moment (buried around here Somewhere .

I HAVE a little guide called the NYfilm&video guide . . . 212 977 3800 (published by Judit Inc. Riverdale NY .. for $8.50)

My Only real USEFUL piece of advice to give though is that MY biggest mistake was to think I was going to be able to find a "Full-Time" job in the "Film" industy Anywhere . . . almost ALL the shops (as in 98%?) work from Project to Project so you work a day here a day there etc. (that way they don't have to pay benifits etc. i guess . . aLOT cheaper)
Those same shops Will have about 3 full-time people . . but they're usually people who've been hired in AFter they've shown all their skills "Through" the day-to-day method ! (they usually don't hire from outside i guess)

I DID start making headway when I started looking at "display" companies instead . . . THEY Do have full-time jobs etc. . Those places usually have someone to do concept-sketches (sometimes needed to show clients etc.) and might also use the same artist to sculpt etc.

When you get into That you're starting to talk about all the Big Dept. stores etc. . . alot of independant shops that do work for malls and stores around the area .
(Although you're right . . it IS hard to find them . . once you find ONE though, they're usually willing to point you in the right direction of others)

By the time I finally started to figure out where to look in NY I ran out of money (about to give it another try)

If you're looking at NY but have trouble you could always look a little farther north and think about Advanced Animations or VP maybe etc.


Subj: Re: Please Help!
Date: 06/18/98

(( Q: ))
>Would you by any chance know where I can get some information or a site on building cable controls for a mecanical alien head and torso?

(( A: ))
Unfortunately I don't think I've Ever seen any sites that've told about that :(
(and yeah I really would like to see one too)

maybe maybe one of the halloween sites mentioned a little (told details about their homemade ghouls etc.)

As for info "I" can give ...
A: The two places i've heard about for suppliers are SAVA-cables in New Jersey (973) 835-0882 and Scwinn Sylmar (I forget the address .. couldn't find'em on the web either) they seemed like nice people etc. (sent me some small free samples) and they even Mentioned animatronics use in their flyer they sent .

Both places have about $50 minimums though .
(Other than that I havn't found anyplace yet that sells Long-lengths of cable etc.)

Bike cables aren't impossible to use, but they aren't as "smooth" as the cables from the two places I mentioned .

B: . . the guy I knew out here that did that kind of stuff just used pvc-tubing cut into rings for the finger loops etc.

C: beyond that i've pretty much just seen people make hand holds out of wood etc. (although "I" would love to make a whole setup with foot controls etc.)

(geez .. come to think of I guess I don't have any big revelations to help you with :( . . . oh well . . let me know if you find any better places that sell cables .

Chris Hillman
Animatronics guy (In Progress)

Oh yeah . . one more thing . . there's a company called Sullivan that has "short" lengths of cables and nylon push-pull rods (used usually for radio-control airplanes .
I Think they're based in conneticut somewhere .
Just try asking at a godd hobby shop (that has rc pasrts) and they should probably have something by that company or at least know how to contact them .

good luck !

- - - - - - - - - - - -

(( Q: ))
I was wondering if you minded if I linked your site to my links page?

Heck no ! go ahead (free advertising!?) link away :)
I don't even mind if you want to link to the 'Links-Page' instead of the 'Entrance'..since the links are the most useful part of the  site right now.

- - - - - - - - - - -
(( Q: ))
can you send information on how to do animatronics thank you
(aka: can you tell me how to build a head? .. send info to yadda yadda yadda)

whAT the ... ?   :(
That'd be an email with 100 pics and diagrams and 100s of pages and . . . and . . .
well . . wait a sec . . Y'know Usually when I see an email that comes from a strange angle like that I always actually remember when I was in High-School and they FORCED US to write letters to big companies requesting information (whether we liked it or not) and none of  Those letters sounded really level-headed (it's a good "idea" at first coming from the teacher but in Practice it turns into an exersise in pennmanship and formatting rather than Actually figuring out who you're Communicating with and trying to convey and gather information you really want without driving them crazy :) lol

And if it's a question from someone who really Does want to know ..

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Subj: Re: animatronics
Date: 05/14/98

(( Q: ))
> Anyway I would be REALLY grateful if you have any easy-to-understand information on
the subject (Animatronics), such as
what materials are commonly used, what movements are possible, what
manufacturing processes are used, what sort of electronics are commonly
used, etc.

(( A: ))
HMMMmmmm . . . ugh . . . hmmm . . .geez y'know i HATE to say it (cause it also sounds like a cop-out answer ) but the reason i Made my site (with the Huge links page) is because there IS No "one source" for information . . . let alone "easy" information ! :(

( so i put together the huge links page so people could just gather their own )

As for a QUICKie answer (i got 2 running messages going with two other people and am "supposed" to be going to bed early) . . .

Animatronics ? : Simple definition . . : mechanical people . . wait . .make that Characters . .or creatures maybe .

Animatronics (read my starting page for a quickie definition etc.) usually comes in 2 forms . .animatronics for Movies and animatronics for museums or displays etc.

If you're doing an animtronic character for a Movie it diesn't have to have to be constructed with a very long life-span . .but Does have to be able to make alot of different moves according to what the director is going to want etc.
Usually for movies. the aniamtronics use the same servos found in Radio Control cars and airplanes because they're easy to get and control .

Animatronic characters in theme parks etc. usually use pneumatics or hydraulics (although instead of oil they use water sometimes because it's non-flammable and easier to clean up)
but the whol;e system will last longer than with rc-servos .

Materials ? : um . . silicone . .OR foam-latex or vinyl for the skin .
Fiberglass or plastic for the understructure (with a metal frame maybe )

Movements ? : All of'em

Manufacturing processes ? : All of'EM too :) . . Sculpting, casting, (personally "I" like to vacuform the shells inside of my characters) . .
usually if you're doing a copy of a human . . you make a cast of their head in alginate (the same stuff that a dentist uses to make plaster moulds of your teeth) . . then make a plaster head from That . . . then make a GOOD negative cast of the plaster head . .Then pour (or inject) silicone or latex into That . .to make a silicone (or latex) head .
( then IN go the motors and cables etc.)

Electronics ? : . . hmm . . Sometimes they're simple minicomputers just to make the thing move a little . or BIG computers if they need to run ALOT of characters or trigger ALOT of events in a show "in Sequence" .
If it's a character in a MOvie . .usually it'l be run by cables . .or a radio-control unit by someone off-stage . . so the director can call for something top be moveds differently and someone can make it happen instantly (instead of a computer having to be reprogrammed)

oh well . BEDTIME ! :) lol . . email me again if you need anything explained better (i'll be gone from friday till mnday though)

Chris Hillman
(a guy with USUALLy more time :) lol

The BEst places to look for a good explanation are probably the top few links on my links-page under the heading "Animatronics - general info" . .eSPEcially the T.O.P pages ! ! ! . . i don't know if they explain animatronics . .but they Are written well (and concise) !



(( Q: ))
(I think I,m looking for something Teddy Ruxpin style. Or maybe there's a program
out there that can control my servos with the music)

ibm's running ssc's while running a wav. file
( or maybe the system from the )

mediamation cards and or simon-kaoli systems

show control software

(( Q: ))

Usually for the movie industry you can find the "film office"
of whatever city you're looking in and they'll either be able to tell you or
they'll have a list or guide etc. (Philadelphia has a Very comprehensive
guide and site at ...  .. that lists alot of local crew and
companies) ... there's also a few smaller guides for NY like .. hmm .. the
New York Film and Video Guide [rates, conditions & services for feature film
productions] for $8.50 (212-977-3800?) (in case anybody's out there) and
there's also a few online listings like that but people are listed from all
over so probably nobody in Oregon.

 (( Q: ))

The people who Build theme-parks etc. tend to look in the IAAPA
(International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions)( )
directory. That's the biggie organization to belong to if you're involved in
the "building end" or "needing end" of theme-park-stuff etc.
Iv'e heard you get alot for the cost of joining and the directory is vEry
Comprehensive and worth having (and worth being listed in when you're up and


try ..
ebay ebay ebay (check for snowbolower treads, snowmobile treads ..and battlebot this & that)
(havn't checked them yet)

I'm doing  a school paper and need ifo quick on  ..

Check the site ...

Subj: Animatronic Information
Date: 11/9/99 4:17:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Mischell Fryar)

  > Paul, what is the reason for harmonic drives? Are they small and
> lightweight? Expensive? Is this something like a Maxxon motor with a
> harmonic gearbox? Or is it some animal I have never seen? Are there
> drawings or pictures of the Honda robot anythere on the web that would
> let me see how they did it?

The harmonic drives are all electric, compact in the extreme, can be had with hollow
shafts so wires etc can pass through the joint, Outside they look like
C3PO's knees.

editing in ...
Also check ...

Date: 7/3/99 1:23:48 PM Eastern Daylight Time

I've buying mine through a commercial plastics distribitor in Dallas. There
were many of them listed in the Dallas yellow pages. The name of the place
is Laird Plastics. I picked up a catalog and on the back is an 800 number --
800 610 1016. They have places all over the U.S. . Someone earlier posted
info on Cadilac Plastics, they are another big distributor in the U.S.
There are many thicknesses and colors. I've mostley been buying .030 thickness
in 4 by 8 sheets. It costs about ten bucks. Check out the books " Do It
Yourself Vacuum Forming " by Douglas Walsh and The Prop Bulder's Molding
and Casting Handbook by Thurston James. They are both discussed in earlier

<7ll83l$> wrote:
original article:
> Hi guys:
> I have found quite impressive the ease of use and creativity
> using vacuum forming with styrene sheets. Unfortunately I doubt
> it is a common practice to use such wonderfull technology on PR.
> What type of stores should I try to get it from? Builder Square?
> Home Depot? A sign manufacturer? Where do you usually shop for
> styrene? Thanks for your help!
> Avayan


>The local crafts store had the usual stuff for plaster, but had nothing at all for rubber or latex.

If you goto a good art-supply store they should have SOME latex.
They'll usually have small Expensive bottles BUT that same company that sells that clear plastic (+activator) to make paperwieghts the blue & white metal container Also sells gallons of latex in a can for about $45

If not that..I get mine from CEMENTEX  in NY.

IF you're talking about FOAM-latex then the best place to start is probably

Upcoming Questions etc.

different types of filters





  I haven't been able to find a link I found about a year ago. It was a site that offered a RC servo driver with a MIDI interface to it. I recall that there was also a page recommending the use of Mark of the Unicorn MIDI sequencer to power it.Are you aware of such a device? Any leads would be most welcome


Michael Cabarles

currently in Malaysia


Subj: Re: HALL: Computer Controlled Scenes?
Date: 7/18/99 8:59:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Allen)

>There are a couple of scenes I'm planning this year that require complex
>controllers to run them. I'd like to be able to keep these scenes as close
>to my ideas as possible, but I'm not sure if they're possible to create
>without spending a fortune. Basically, after the scene is triggered, I need
>to be able to first turn on a light, begin a recording, turn on another
>light, and play yet another sound. How can this be accomplished? I'm
>assuming that some kind of computer control would be needed, but I don't
>quite know what. Any help you could give me would be much appreciated.

If you really want to save money, my Atari 800 robotics page will show you
about the cheapest way to do all that you mention. If someone you know has
an 800 in a closet and you have an electronics junk box, you could do it for


Brian D. Oberquell
The Wizard's Den SPFX Studio
210 Cornell Way
Port Moody, B.C. CANADA V3H 3W2
Phone (604) 931-6298
Pager (604) 488-7423
Mobile (604) 644-1841
Website: Re: HALL: Video ? and NEON WIRE
Date: 7/23/99 10:23:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Brian D. Oberquell)

I've used the LiveWire to tart up a clock to make it look like one of those
old-style neon signs -- unfrtunately I'm not allowed to post the pix for
you (or others) to check out because the company that makes the product is
being very anal about usage of their trademark...but I'm working on it!


>Anyone purchased any of that flexible neon wire yet? If so, Are you
>pleased? Is it everything the add says it to be? What is your application?

Brian D. Oberquell
The Wizard's Den SPFX Studio
210 Cornell Way
Port Moody, B.C. CANADA V3H 3W2
Phone (604) 931-6298
Pager (604) 488-7423
Mobile (604) 644-1841