Spotlight: Students Build a Practical Special Effects Robot

Wednesday, October 23, 2019
students maneuver a robot puppet in front of a green screen

Students in the fall 2018 Practical Special Effects class were asked to form teams and design and fabricate a practical effect—something tangible instead of computer-generated—that could be used in a film.

a robot hand and arm

Alex Jereb (B.A., Theatre and Dance, 2020) proposed building Admin Bot, the robot character from the online comic, Gunnerkrigg Court. The robot intrigued Laura Godinez (B.A., Arts and Entertainment Technologies, 2020) and along with engineering student Seth Husband, the three formed a team to bring Admin Bot to life.

They chose to build a puppet, laminating layers of insulation foam and using a hot wire to sculpt its head and body. They created moveable hands by 3D printing joints and fingers in The Foundry, and rigged a lighted desk with LED tape that changed colors on command. When it was ready, Radio-Television-Film Professor Deepak Chetty filmed their scene in front of a green screen, then added a background with special visual effects to complete their scene.

Watch their amazing “Making an Admin Bot: A Special Effects Documentary."

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