There are people who buy a cheap sack of candy and dutifully answer the door on Halloween. Then there are people like [Peter] who spend the whole year planning for the next year’s Hollywood-style front yard theatrics.
He added an animatronic raven to his show a few years back. It has been wildly popular and it’s not hard to see why. The bird is well engineered, well built, and the performance is very realistic. [Peter], who is an FX supervisor in the film industry, has posted a build log that takes us through step by step. This creepy performer can move its head up and down, side-to-side, and even rotate at the neck. This all happens while the beak synchronizes with talking. We marvel at the precision machining that was done to make the frame facilitate movement.
The body itself is made of fiberglass covered with feathers. [Peter] covered the completed mechanics with clay in order to sculpt the final body shape. This was used as the mold by covering it with fiberglass release and then fiberglass fabric. This process produced a very light weight and accurate shell with a minimum of effort; something we’ll keep in mind for future projects.
Take a look at a bit of video after the break. You can see the whole show from past years over at [Peter's] site. We’ll be doing a couple of follow-ups covering his animatronic skeleton (the raven’s partner in crime) as well as the interface he uses to control and sync the voices to stay tuned! [Read more...]