Animatronics refers to the application of elctronically controlled electric motors and maunaully controlled pulleys and levers to create motion in mechanical puppets. The goal of an animatronic puppet is to create a lifelike representation of an existing organism or fantasy creature. The technology was developed in the early 1960's by engineers at the Disneyland Resort for the Enchanted Tiki Room attraction. The name given to the technology was Audio-Animatronics. The "puppets" used tones recorded on audio tape which through an elctronic interface caused a pneumatic valve to move part of the character. The technology has advanced considerably since the Tiki Room application, and today animatronic puppets are used extensively in film and television productions as well theme parks and other forms of entertainment.
The application of animatronics today includes computer controlled as well as radio and manually controlled devices. The actuation of specific movements can be obtained with electric motors, pneumatic cylinders, hydraulic cylinders and cable driven mechanisms. The type of mechanism employed is dictated by the character parameters, specific movement requirements and the project constraints.Puppets are constructed to perform action on camera for many reasons, including:
- -Creation of creatures that do not exist
- -The action is too risky or costly to use real actors or animals
- -The action could never be obtained with a living person or animal
The technology has advanced to the point that animatronic puppets can be made indiscernable from their living counterparts. The action, as captured with a puppet, in-camera provides for a believable, interactive character that has yet to be achieved with digital imagery.