Ventriloquist Dummy for Sprint

(click on pic to see a larger version)

(click on above to see a the QT movie)

For a recent Sprint ad, Agency TBWA Chiat/Day and Production Company Tool came to Rick and TCS to create an animated Ventriloquist dummy. The dummy went through many paint, wig, facial hair, and costume changes to arrive at just the right likeness for his "partner". The dummy is made with a cast urethane head and hands, with a wood and cloth body and legs. For our research and build, we purchased many dummies and kits from several vendors, seeing which would be the most suitable for modification. For the head, we settled on a model designed and sold by Mike Brose at It was nicely made, and smelled like vanilla!

As the puppet had to "spring to life" on its' own, seemingly separate from any human operator, a mainly radio-controlled solution was created. Powerful servos provided body twist and head pivot. Other R/C functions included eyes side-to-side, jaw, blinks, and brow movements. A manually operated cable and pulley system brought the body upright. One doesn't normally see that many functions on a vent figure, but as the puppeteering duties were split up amongst 4 people, it was an easier load to bear. Bringing the phone into view utilized rod puppetry; a slim rod coming out the puppet's wrist was erased in post production.

To get a feel for the design process from start to near-finish, have a look at the following links. Though not all of the links currently work, they'll give you a good idea of how we keep our Client, Agency, and Production Company up to date with our progress on the Web:

tcsvent2.html (initial wardrobe/form tests)

tcsvent3.html (lotsa wardrobe and hair tests)

tcsvent4.html (homing in on the final character)

Check out some behind the scenes dummy action! (click on any pic to see a larger version):



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