Animatronics grew out of the desire to break the limitations of animated films to bring characters into the real world.  Our goal is to create the illusion of life with electronic creatures of our own design to tell an original story.  Traditionally, animatronics has been the sole province of highly skilled artists and engineers working with complex mechanisms, found in theme parks. The exquisite entertainment robots they created often cost as much as a house, each.  But you can build your own simple animatronic shows using inexpensive and readily available materials.  We’ll write a story and then use paper and other household materials to construct characters that we’ll animate using simple micro-servos and Arduino.  Software tools will help us record voices and synchronize servo motions with the sound to create talking characters!

When you make an animatronics show, you are making an original one-of-a-kind show with you as writer and builder. What you write determines what you build!  As we take you through the steps, we’ll use a few of OUR characters, so you can see examples to get ideas for how to build YOUR own show using YOUR character.  We’ll talk a bit about the star of our video above, Phil the FlipPhone, and introduce a few other characters like Sam the Complaining Turtle, Percy, Geoffrey Giraffe, and Abe Lincoln Cat.  Be sure to post your own videos so all makers can enjoy them!



Meet the Fort Worth project team! Seniors Courtney and Pooja originated animatronics at Trinity Valley School and Class of ’14 alum Zach has been on-site expert an animatronics enthusiast as we’ve taken our stuff on the road to New York and Seattle. Faculty advisors: Our fabulous creative writing leader, Luke Jacob, and project wrangler, Ginger Alford.

Meet the Seattle project team!  Tracy and Austin, high school interns at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, and, advisor to us all, the original visionary for animatronics, the seriously fun Paul Dietz of Microsoft Research.

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