Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to Make Talking Halloween Mighty B! Figures

Since I was a small kid I've been a big fan of projection effects like those used in the Haunted Mansion.
The kids' Halloween party at the Nickelodeon is always a big event, and this particular year I wanted to go all out (luckily my bosses were also willing to look the other way on a couple of my deadlines).

First, I carved their heads in some nice chunks of soft foam.
Note: do not attempt this without some sort of respiratory mask apparatus, or the inside of your lungs will resemble the floor here.

taking shape.
The final positive face.

Then I had the forms cast in vacuum-form plastic.

Stand-up bases made of wood scraps and pvc pipe.

I dusted the inside of the heads with white spray-paint. The facial animation will be projected by two digital projectors from behind. This way viewers will be able to get get very close to the figures without blocking the projection beam.
I fashioned crude body forms from cardboard and then draped them with plaster-dipped sheets of canvas for clothing.

I painted them entirely with photo-optical paint so that, when lit with a black-light, the bodies will glow as much as the rear projected faces.

Board artist Sunil Hall built a motor that gave Bessie's marshmallow arm a convincingly frightened tremble.
This campfire scenario was inspired by the episode "Bee Afraid", and editor Meghan Burleson cobbled together some dialogue and effects from that show to voice our mannequins.

Production staffer Jerry Regan was kind enough to animate the actual faces to be projected onto the forms.

...and uh, the end effect is nearly impossible to photograph, but quite impressive in person.