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
"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
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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