GRIZZLY BEAR - Animatronic Costume.
One- 7 1/2 foot tall, life-size animatronic walkaround suit.
Foam latex, fibreglass, fur, soft foam, spandex, glass eyes, and mechanisms.
Head turn, body, arms, eyes & lids, brows, mouth, lips, nose, and ears.
Animatronic Head- Cheating proportion in the other direction, the head needed to be much higher than the actor’s head. Our actor actually sees and breathes through a ventilated fur section in the front of the bear’s neck. The animatronic head is mounted to a backpack on three very large linear servo motors that control the up/down, side to side, and tilt functions of the head.The head was sculpted and molded, and the skin was cast in prosthetic foam latex, a material that moves very well with remote control animatronics- the mouth, lips, eyes, eyelids, nose, and ears. The face is animated with fourteen servo motors, providing movement for the eyes, eyelids, brows, nose, ears, both individual top and bottom lips -for lip synch ‘talking’- and the jaw, was built for wide open/close motion.
There is much more to our Grizzly Bear Suit suit than meets the eye. It consists of: a substructure 'muscle' suit, a four way stretch, outer fur suit, an animatronic head supported above the actor's head on a backpack, two mechanical extension arms, and two feet. We also have shorter arms with gloves so the actor can hold things if needed.
Muscle Suit- A full lifecast body of our suit performer was molded and cast for this project. A spandex unitard with a heavily reinforced zipper pulled over this body cast provided the foundation of the bear suit. The anatomical shapes and muscle masses of a very large and accurate taxidermy bear form provided excellent references for our muscle suit’s measurements and proportions. All the major muscle masses of a real grizzly bear were replicated in soft foam, along with stiffer foam for bony landmarks like shoulder blades, and they were all sewn into protective spandex covers onto the unitard on the actor’s life cast body form. Created in this way, when an actor moves within our suit, all the muscle groups and body masses of a real bear follow his movements exactly. Fitting a person into the shape of a bear requires a lot of anatomical adjustments. The crotch and butt are cheated much lower than the actor’s. We built our bear costume so he could actually sit and roll around on his bottom the way real bears do.
Fur Suit, Extension Arms and Feet- For all the bear fur, we used fur made on a computerized loom with nine different blends of hair colors for a richer, more realistic effect, and the fur was woven onto a four way stretch base, so it would stretch with the actor, not bunch up and restrict his movements. We created patterns over the finished muscle suit, and used these patterns to cut and sew all the stretch fur into a fur suit, with all the needed zippers, and snaps to join the arms, feet, and head to it. In order to be anatomically correct, the arms extend a good deal beyond the actor’s arms, with safe, soft rubber claws. The arms mechanically pivot independently at both the palms and the wrists. The feet are furred, with safe, soft rubber claws and thick soles, providing for the actor’s safety on all sorts of rough terrain.
The top of the head was covered with fur and shorter hairs were electrostatically flocked onto the bear’s snout. The hair transitions between the the furred and flocked areas were hand punched, as were the whiskers. The entire palate -the inside of the mouth, including tongue, gums, and teeth- were sculpted, molded, and cast then painted, so every detail can be seen when our bear roars.
Performance- A realistic animal costume or puppet is only as good as its performers -they give it that final magic and bring it to life. Our grizzly bear suit performers have years of experience working inside the suit and they know how to get the best performances with it. In the BENQ cellphone spot, our suit performer was called on to push our Grizzly suit all the way, performing take after take of Michael Jackson style dance moves, and in heavy heat and humidity. As the commercials here show, the performer and suit held up solidly, and the clients were very pleased with our energetic performance. In addition to the performance of the actor in the suit, the electronics that move the neck and facial features also require remote control radio puppeteers to simultaneously operate all of the movements our grizzly bear can deliver.
GRIZZLY BEAR - Credits
DISNEY Walk the Prank, Television Show.
BANK of AMERICA commercial.
ALASKA SALMON commercial. Korea.
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL commercial. Rafael Fernandez, director.
THUNDER VALLEY CASINO commercial. Nicholas Spooner, director.
HYUNDAI 'Accent' commercial.
'OUTLANDER' movie. Howard McCain, director.
FORD commercial. Taiwan.
SPRING AIR commercial. Freddie Garza, director. Mexico.
CARMAX commercial. Perlorian Brothers, directors.
GRANJA SAN FRANCISCO HONEY commercial. Spain.
CAFRI BEER commercial. Korea.
BENQ CELLPHONES commercial. Jeff Chang, director. Taiwan.
BUDWEISER 'Campers' commercial. Lloyd Stein, director.