GIANT GROUPER - Pneumatic Puppet.
One- 6 foot long, life-size, pneumatic puppet.
Silicone rubber, fibreglass, glass eyes and mechanisms.
Mouth open/close to swallow bottle, gill open/close, fin and tail kick.
We had one week to create a six foot long Giant Grouper fish that had to surface from under the ocean, open its mouth, swallow a bottle and go back under; all while kicking its tail, pectoral fin and moving its gills.
With only one week to complete the entire effect from scratch, we got the armature, sculpting and molding processes off to a fast start with a projector enlarged profile drawing of the fish. Luan cutout negatives helped us to quickly and accurately build the massive armature required for that much clay. The negatives further assisted in rapidly sculpting and texturing the clay. A fast fibreglass mold was laid up and silicone rubber was brushed into the mold, backed up with a fibreglass core. A hinge mechanism was built into the mouth. To get the right angles for fully surfacing, swallowing the bottle and submerging, a two slightly non-parallel pivot arms were built on a base frame rising five feet up to the base of the fish. The pivot arms being wider apart at the base caused the fish to stay more level and remain underwater in less water depth at his starting and ending position.
The mouth, tail, pectoral fin and gills were hooked up to run with pneumatic cylinders fed by an air tank. The motion of the fish was provided by a bungee pull, released with a pneumatic activated latch in the beginning position. To keep the bottle in position to be swallowed, a monofilament line passed from behind the fish up through it's open belly, out the Mouth and attatched to the bottle with the note in it. Another line ran from the bottle forward and as the fish came up, it slid over the monofilament line assuring that the bottle would pass into the Mouth.
The front end of the line was held by a puppeteer to insure that all the little surface waves, currents and eddies didn't put the bottle too far out of position. Our fish platform was mounted to a much larger platform with room for our fish, a puppeteering platform rising up out of the water and an underwater platform for the camaramen to film from. A gigantic crane lifted the whole platform into the ocean and the corners were braced level. To get the shot at water level, the camera was encased in a waterproof housing and floated on air bags.
GIANT GROUPER - Credits
INTEL 'Bottle' commercial. David Kellogg, director.