THE ROBOTS OF AI: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
When he was approached by Steven Spielberg for AI: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, Stan Winston had more experience building robots than any other creature effects artist in the world — but the robots of AI would be unlike anything Winston, or anybody else, had ever created. “It was important to Steven that the robots in AI have absolutely nothing to do with the Terminator or any of the robots we’d done previously,” Winston remarked.
MECHAS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES
These robots, called ‘mechas’ in the story, ranged from the utilitarian type — such as gardeners, security guards and other blue-collar workers — to Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), a true ‘love machine’, and Teddy, a robotic teddy bear who serves as David’s sidekick.
THE MECHA GRAVEYARD
When the film's young robotic hero, David (Haley Joel Osment) meets Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), they soon thereafter witness a garbage truck dumping mecha parts in the forest. The parts were actually Stan Winston Studio reject designs that prop master Jerry Moss mass-produced from Winston’s molds.
Pictured above: Aaron Sims and Eric Fiedler put the finishing touches on the Insecurity Guard at SWS.
LOOKING FOR REPLACEMENT PARTS
Damaged mecha outcasts rummage through the pile, looking for replacement parts. The studio designed twelve key mecha characters for the scene — including a security guard mecha that was built from a lifecast of Stan Winston — each of which was realized as either a mechanical puppet or an appliance makeup worn by a performer.
RECREATING STAN WINSTON
According to FX Mechanic Eric Fiedler, recreating Stan Winston as Mecha involved multiple approaches, "The Insecurity Guard was primarily a kinetic rod puppet where all the joints articulated like normal human joints. It had a cable-operated neck. The head was silicone. The armature for the body was aluminum rods, bearings, torsion springs, all nicely machined."
Pictured above: The "Insecurity Guard" prepares for his demise at the brutal "Flesh Fair" in AI: Artificial Intelligence.
USING EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK
"[The Mechas of AI: Artificial Intelligence] were unlike anything audiences had seen before," said Winston, "and we were able to do it by using all of the available technologies." From live-action puppetry to traditional makeups and Practical/CGI hybrid approaches, the Stan Winston Studio robot makers pushed themselves to a brand new level of innovation by bringing every magic trick to the table, all to help Steven Spielberg make his modern day Pinocchio a reality.