Beverly Hills, CA — Aslan, Doc Ock, Yoda, Mr. Tinkles, Audrey II, Mighty Joe, the Mystics, along with a puppy, a T-Rex dinosaur and several aliens, will be among the fantastical creatures, unearthly characters, hideous monsters and memorable icons that will come to life at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in “It’s Alive!: Bringing Animatronic Characters to Life on Film,” an original exhibition opening to the public on Friday, May 12, in Beverly Hills.
Through the art and technology of animatronics, filmmakers can shoot in real time as these mechanical creatures, operated through a combination of sophisticated electronic circuitry and old-fashioned puppeteering, interact with live actors on set in front of the camera. With its roots in the early years of fantasy films, animatronics became widely used in the ‘70s and into the ‘90s, making characters like Yoda (from The Empire Strikes Back) to the giant ape Harry (of Harry and the Hendersons) possible. Although the advent of CGI has given filmmakers a different range of options when designing these characters, such recent films as Herbie Fully Loaded and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy have elected to use animatronics to allow real time performance.
This unusual Academy exhibition will showcase numerous models, both large and small, maquettes, and actual animatronic creatures and their mechanisms in our Fourth Floor Gallery. Video monitors will show the final product – these characters’ appearance on film. The Grand Lobby Gallery will highlight the extensive design process these creatures undergo by presenting concept drawings, storyboards and photographs from the workshops and sets where these characters are built and operated.
Many of the film industry’s leading animatronics artists and companies are lending to this exhibition, including the Jim Henson Company, the Walt Disney Company, Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., Eric Allard, Rick Baker, Dave Barclay, Lyle Conway, Richard Edlund, Ray Harryhausen, Robert Short and Phil Tippett. Films represented include 102 Dalmatians, Alien3, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, An American Werewolf in London, Beetlejuice, Cats & Dogs, The Dark Crystal, Doctor Dolittle, George of the Jungle, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors, Jurassic Park, Men in Black II, Mighty Joe Young, Predator, Robocop, The Santa Clause 2, Short Circuit, Snow Dogs and Spider-Man 2.