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LOST IN SPACE

About The Robot

"Danger, Will Robinson!" are the immortal words of warning from one of the most beloved characters in Lost In Space -- the robot. This leading cast member was one of two robots and several galactic creatures to be designed for Lost In Space by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

Following guidelines from director Stephen Hopkins and production designer Norman Garwood, the Creature Shop, headed by project supervisor Verner Gresty, began the design and concept phase to create Robot I and Robot II, as well as alien characters and space spiders.

"Robot 1 is really a stunt robot," Gresty explained. "It performed in many of the action sequences, and it had to be capable of total subtlety with precise movements when working with the actors."

The challenge for the Creature Shop was designing and building a large industrial robot that could be transformed into Robot II, a smaller more friendly robot. Robot I had to be big, powerful and intimidating. Robot II had to be born out of Robot I but with some re-engineering. It also had to be able to move backwards and forwards on alamac tracks and travel under its own propulsion. The main upper body had to rotate at 360, and its legs, arms and face had to be fully animatronic.

"The main challenges were coordinating and fitting in all of the different elements involved in the final design and structure, without interfering with any of the moving elements," said Gresty. "Over 3,000 components were used. Constant modifications and additions to the external body panels were necessary to accommodate new parts, while great care was taken to maintain the smooth curves and aesthetic lines of the original sketch design."

As the robot was nearing completion, the weight implications became apparent. Two over-head chain hoists and a hydraulic crane were required to manipulate and assemble the robot parts. At the same time, the electronics team installed motor drives, gearboxes and power supplies. The final weight of the robot was 500 pounds, and up to four Henson puppeteers were needed to manipulate the robot at any one time.

The Creature Shop's next challenge was to design and build Blawp, a friendly chameleon-like space monkey, described as a baby of alien species.' This character would need to interact with the human cast, and a model was needed for CG scanning for running and jumping shots. The first of a series of maquettes was produced for Stephen Hopkins, who made the character less monkey-like and more alien-looking.

The Creature Shop then concentrated on producing different skins' for the chameleon-like character. After lighting tests, the skins were made from a combination of foam and silicon. Many different skin types were necessary as they were frequently changed and fitted throughout the filming and needed to withstand the vigorous movement required of the character. Members of the Creature Shop were on set to dress, paint and maintain the character throughout the shoot, while a team of up to seven puppeteers was used to manipulate the small animatronic Blawp.

The final Creature Shop design was the alien spiders. "In terms of scope and scale, the range of things we had to do on Lost In Space was incredible. From the smallest mechanisms of Blawp, to the killer robot and the spiders, it used the widest range of technology we have ever employed, and it was exciting seeing it all come together," said Gresty.

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