"Oh-oo, fishy, fishy, fishy FISH!"-Monty Python

Okay. It's not a big job. It's not a 20 foot-tall marionette. It's not a full-sized elephant, or a 17 foot tall Dragon. But it's an *important* job. One that has to look right. Look believable, in every detail. Look *real*.

The Specs: Create a very realistic, believable, 24 inch-long puppet replica of a Walleye fish. It's got to have a moving mouth, as it's going to deliver dialogue. Flaring gills, because the fisherman has just hoisted it from the water. And, of course, flopping movements of its tail and body.

Rick Lazzarini and The Character Shop, known for creating incredible animatronic animals, were asked to create and bring this fish to life by Producer Jeff Tanner. Not a Saugeye, not a Sauger...but a Walleye.

There's a difference! Did you know that? We didn't before the job...but we sure do now!

The natural choice for materials? Silicone, platinum-based. TCS' Art Department experimented extensively with pearlescent pigments in both the cast material skin and the paint, to achieve the maximum natural translucency that these fish have, while keeping that shiny iridescence that changes as the light hits it from different angles.

The fish ends up being a single unit, but is in fact assembled from several pieces: Every fin is separately sculpted, molded, cast, and attached. The body skin is one piece, and separate from the head skin, which itself is three pieces: The upper, lower, and inner-mouth parts. All skillfully and seamlessly combined.

In keeping with the translucency, the inner body core was created from clear Dental Acrylic, so no "green" fiberglass/resin hue would be imparted. And because...well, you know how a fishes' mouth is of that wierd, hard, cartilaginous construction with sharp teeth? Well, clear Dental Acrylic fit the bill perfectly there, too. All we had to do was mechanize it.

Rick himself created the Radio-Controlled inner body mechanism, which consisted of a servo-powered push-pull linkage for the mouth open-and-close, a clever rotary-to-linear double push for the gill "flaring", and two vertical-axis pivot points for body/tail wiggle. The inside skin of thefish was carefully snipped to give the double-soft silicone even more flexibility, so that a good part of the tail wiggle would be a natural, reciprocating organic floppiness.



All the servos were either of the waterproof variety, or carefully sealed and greased to make them H2O resistant. The receiver and battery connectors also were swathed in silicone elastomer or grease to keep water out, as the fish would be submersed in a lake for some shots, then pulled up.

All it took from then was packing a Set Kit, flying and driving to a beautiful, secluded lake in the middle of Wisconsin, and bringing the fish to life for several shots and takes, and many a happy Client, Producer, and Agency person! Oh, and we brought back 2 Cheeseheads, and a couple of tick bites on our tummy. ;-)

Here's a look at the final fish, a movement test of the finished puppet, ready to go to set!

Have a look at some of the Work-In-Progress pics and flix we took and shared with the Client while creating the Fish!

This is the level of attention to detail that we could be giving *your* project.

Remember, The Character Shop can bring just about any animal, alien, creature, or character to life, using animatronics, puppetry, and a bit of talent and wizardy! Give us a call or email us at The Character Shop.

(805) 306-9441 lazzwaldo @ mac.com


What's New | Features | Commercials | Resume | Realistic | Whimsical | Scary | Animatronics | Prosthetics | Puppets | Waldo ฎ | Publicity | TCS Fun | FX FAQ | Reference | Contact Us

Except where noted, all contents are the property of The Character Shop, Inc. and copyright 2012
Photographs and text may only be re-published with written permission. All rights reserved.