Private Collection | Props For Sale | JP Dinosaurs For Sale | Diorama Tutorials
Dinosaur Encyclopedia | Fossil Fun | Cloning Articles | Theme Park Project
JP: The Ride | Creating Animatronics | Forum | Links | Email Me | Home
Building the various components used in the animatronic usually takes the longest time. SWS engineers design and build the mechanical systems, which includes everything from basic gears to sophisticated hydraulics, whilst another group develops the electronic control systems needed to operate the animatronic.
Typically starting from scratch and creating their own custom circuit boards, these engineers are essentially building giant remote-controlled toys. Almost all of the movement of the Spinosaurus will be manipulated by specialized remote-control systems known as telemetry devices.
The next step is to build a frame for the electronic and mechanical components to attach to and control, the skin itself will also need this to maintain its shape. To increase the realism, and because it is the natural way to design it, the frame of the Spinosaurus, as well as most other creatures made by SWS, resembles the actual skeleton of the beast. This skeletal frame is largely comprised of graphite, a synthetic material known for its strength and lightness.
The skin of the Spinosaurus is made from foam rubber, which is a very light, spongy rubber that is made by mixing air with liquid latex rubber and then curing (hardening) it. While there are other compounds, such as silicone and urethane, that are stronger and last longer, foam rubber is used because it is much easier to work with. The solution is poured into each mold and allowed to cure.
When all the components are done, it's time to build the Spinosaurus. The frame is put together and then the mechanical systems are put in place. As each component is added, it is checked to ensure that it moves properly and doesn't interfere with other components. Most of the electronic components are then connected to the mechanical systems they will control. The controls have been tested with the mechanical systems prior to final assembly, but the systems are checked again.
Parts of the skin that have embedded pieces of the frame in them are put in place when the frame is assembled. The other skin pieces are fastened in place on the frame once the mechanical and electronic components are installed. Assembling the skin is a very laborious process. As each piece is added, the team has to check to make sure there are no problems, such as unwanted folds, buckling and stretching.
Whenever one of these problems occurs, the skin must be adapted or attached differently. Also, there are places where you do want the skin to fold or hang loose or travel in a certain way, and it must be adjusted to achieve that effect. One of the tricks that SWS uses to make the Spinosaurus and other dinosaurs seem more realistic is to attach bungee cords between areas of skin and the frame. During movement, these bungee cords simulate tendons under the skin, bunching and stretching.