I have been watching animation movies for some time. And always surprises me how the most goofy-looking characters, end up being the most expressive of all.
Being the designers for the VIKIBOT family, we have the freedom to pick which physical characteristics and what kind of skill set we want to build into each of our robot family members.
It’s not just a matter of looks but also a matter of communicating a personality that every bot should infuse in the viewer's mind. It’s easier said than done!
What’s the Magic
There’s a craft in the making of a character for every show, particularly for animation movies. We are huge movie buffs, so for inspiration about the design for our own BOTS, we used that lead as a good starting point for the design.
It’s not just how they are drawn, hello Jessica, but also what kind of abilities they have and so on. It’s how they talk, how they move around in their environment, what intentional limitations they have to create empathy with the viewers. It’s pure magic. Let’s take a look at some of those ingredients that make the magic come to life.
In the movie Wall-e the robot was designed to clean up Earth after the humans trashed it and left for good. He looks scruffy, dented, and well seasoned. He is basically a blue-collar worker robot. The designers made him very special and smart enough to self-repair but somehow they did not give him a voice. So he communicates with occasional chirps and quick sounds because they use the shape of the binocular eyes to communicate emotions.
They say that the eyes are the portal to the soul and sure enough Wall-e has a lot to share on the subject. Pixar here did a masterful work because, in addition to creating those effects of the pupils, they also made the eyes sockets adjustable at different angles so that he could create even more expressions.
When he’s curious about an object he found you can see how they shift the sockets even instead of his lonely face looking down.
The final mix is to attach sound effects at every movement and et voilà the magic is done!
Since we are aiming for diversity in our bot family, and not all of them will move around with tracks, some of them will have wheels, some will look like a spider with eight legs. No matter what designs we chose, they will have movements of some kind.
If the eyes are the portal to the soul, the voice is the door into empathy when it comes to robot character design in movies, particularly. This can be validated by how they designed BumbleBee, The Iron Giant, Big Hero 6 to mention a few. The balance of a robotic voice that is trying to speak like a human is something that is relatable when we compare it to a child learning to speak.
It’s an intentional limitation that is given to those characters to create empathy with the viewer, they have amazing powers, they can do incredible things but someone they can’t speak or their speech is intentionally limited. By design, you may say. 😃
Overall we don’t want to choose something that sounds forceful and scary like a Decepticon from the Transformers.
While those features listed above give empathy and personality, BOTS in the movies also have SUPER POWERS! Oh well, I wish I had some of those since the number of things that we have to address for this project is longer than the wall of China. Those BOTS come with special powers, some can fly, some are super strong, super smart, and can transform, and so on. However, when they are all together in one setting, those powers would take away from the crowd. Because there’s no I in TEAM.
If you have lived long enough to survive the 80s, you may still remember the animation called The Smurfs. One particular fitting feature of their design was that they work together as a family in facing adversity or a common goal. When they are alone their key specific skills and particular personality traits are brought to the attention of the viewer.
That’s where family comes in.
If for some reason you are one of those people that have not yet discovered the scar of life, wrinkles, beer belly, and so on, likely you don’t know that in the Smurfs you have ONE character per skill. Who bakes, invent, paints, and then you have the papa that comes with wisdom, leadership, and family values.
This is basically the result of my research in trying to assess what we want our family of BOTS to look like, to work together, to share values that are typical of families. It’s a mess, they fight, they work together, and ultimately they look up to one another. Simply put, they are the things that represent a family. Individuals with a single skill alone are great but when combined with other members become an unstoppable family.
In future articles, I will be introducing our BOTS as they are born. The first character, as we mentioned in the first article of the year is CLOUD.IA, followed by LUBE·E, SEEKER, and all others to come. Basically, the CAST of I AM CLOUD.IA reality tv show.
🌴 Have a bLife moment, You deserve it! 🤙🏽