The “BedBugs” feature combines old-school puppet work with 3D animation and compositing. The bug design started with concept art created by Casey Dockendorf:
A physical sculpt was created with Klean Klay plasticine. Klean Klay is fairly soft, so the legs and antennas are reinforced with wire. The body itself is built on top of pair of empty tin cans. The bug is built twice life-size, giving the puppeteer room to operate the mouth and head. Ultimately, the puppet will be shrunk in the composite.
The sculpt was photographed in an orthographic manner in preparation for a separate 3D modeling in Maya and ZBrush (more on that later).
The legs, antennas, and horns were carefully removed and the bug body was placed in a form box (4 interlocking pieces of wood with the corners sealed with Klean Klay). The box was filled with plaster to create a mold for the bug’s back. Once this plaster cured, the rest of the box was filled with plaster, ultimately creating a 2-part mold. The original clay sculpt was removed and set aside.
With the two mold halves pulled apart, the inside of the mold was “painted” with Dragon Skin silicon. Once the Dragon Skin cured, it was removed from the mold, thus accurately recreating the sculpt in two parts. The silicon ranged in thickness from 1/8″ to 1/4″. Dragon Skin, manufactured by SmoothOn, is commonly used for animatronic and similar puppetry dues to its flexibility and durability. The silicon is untinted at this point, but will be painted in a later step.
2-part plaster molds for the legs and antennas were created in a similar fashion. The teeth and horns will be re-carved out of balsa woods and attached at a later point.
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