Doris the Robotic Bowler Hat from Disney’s Meet the Robinsons

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The coolest robot I’ve ever built was made of pixels. Here’s Doris, the robotic bowler hat from Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. As a character technical director at Walt Disney Animation Studios at the time, my job was to create all of the rigging and controls the animators needed to pose and animate this creepy, evil robot.

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Building the Doris rig was a really fun challenge — the script called for her to fly, crawl like a hexapod, hide all parts and appear as an ordinary bowler hat, extend her lens, poke a top-mounted arm holding a toothbrush, screwdriver, or flashlight through a retractable hatch, shoot a grappling hook, and deploy multiple spinning claw hands on infinitely long flexible metal arms.

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I created her rig in Autodesk Maya, first by placing skeletal joint pivots for all of the articulated parts, and then through a series of MEL scripts I wrote to create deformations, animator-friendly controllers, forward/inverse and spline kinematics, constraints, and semi-automated parts, such as the iris and the retractable ports from which the various arms, grappling hooks, goggles and so on would emerge. I collaborated with incredibly talented people, including modeler Joe Bowers and animator Jay Davis, to bring her to life.

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Draughting Pencils, Robot Screws, more

Delightful little box of useful items I found at a garage sale. Pretty good value for five US dollars.

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The Eagle #314 “Chemi-Sealed” DRAUGHTING pencils are excellent, highly coveted pencils among illustrators. This style was made from 1950-1980. More info here. I gave one to my ridiculously talented friend Mark Frauenfelder, who swears by vintage Blackwing’s. We’ll see how he feels this one compares.

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Next up, some nice boxes of screws, including a gross of blued, round head steel 5/8″ #6 wood screws from National Products. Just look at that NAT the Robot logo they had! Love.

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I also found a warded lock key, a pencil protector, two heavy duty switches, and this lovely Brunswick pool cue chalk.

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3D Printing Projects book released

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Hey look, the new book is out! That’s my flower care robot, Chauncey, there on the cover. (He waters that flower whenever the soil runs dry.)

I’m very excited and proud to have contributed to this lovely new book from Maker Media chocked full of projects you can build with a 3D printer, some electronics and mechanical parts, and a bit of gumption. The central notion behind 3D Printing Projects: Toys, Tools, and Contraptions to Print and Build Yourself is “You’ve got a 3D printer, and you’ve downloaded and printed a few Yoda heads and vases — now what?”

The projects all go beyond static prints, and into functional builds that show the true utility of desktop prototyping and additive building when combined with other techniques, including print finishing/painting, friction welding, embedded electronics, physical computing, and mechanism design. Downloadable model files are available on the book’s companion site, and we’ve got a GitHub repository set up for any code downloads, such as the Arduino sketch that powers my flower bot.

I’d like to also give an enormous public, internet hug and thank you to my creative collaborator, Barry McWilliams, who inspired me with his Wrylon Robotical Illustrated Catalog of Botanical Delivery ‘Botsand who designed my darling little robot, Chauncey.

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If you’re interested in learning how to make your own Chauncey, or animatronic eyes, or a ballpoint pen raygun, an inverted RC trike, and more, from a very talented group of makers, including John Baichtal, James Floyd Kelly, and Brook Drumm,  please check it out on Amazon, at O’Reilly, in your local Barnes & Noble, or other local bookstore. I promise it will give invigorating new purpose to your 3D printer!

 

How to Make a Baymax-o’-lantern

Here’s how I made a quick Baymax-o’-lantern from a squat, white pumpkin.

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I’m not Baymax. I’m not in focus, either.

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Hi there. This doesn’t hurt.

 

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Sorry pumpkin. It’s hand brace and auger bit time.

 

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Don’t come near me with that thing!

 

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Pretty curls. And orange guts!

 

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I saw that.

 

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All clean. Wish I’d kept the line a bit thinner.

 

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Hairy baby.

 

Disney Research

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I’m thrilled to announce my new position as a Producer at Disney Research! Starting in December, I’ll be working to share the research scientists’ innovations in areas including robotics, computer graphics, human-computer interaction, and computational materials with the other divisions of Disney. It’ll draw upon both my maker and CG animation experiences. Should this somehow lead to airborne swarms of tiny Imagineering spider drones assisting us all with our luggage at Shanghai Disneyland, my dreams will have been realized.