Animation for Animatronics


Join us LIVE ONLINE and learn digital animation for animatronic puppets with master VFX Artist & Character Mechanic, Craig Caton-Largent (Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Predator 2).

In this groundbreaking interactive Online Course, Caton will teach students how to use Faceware's markerless facial motion capture system, along with Autodesk Maya, to record and modify a performance, and then how to import it into an animatronic puppet powered by Pololu microcontrollers.

Blending digital & practical effects methodologies in a way that has never been done before, Caton will be sharing an exciting new approach to bringing your mechanical characters to life!


  • Faceware Facial Motion Capture Technology
  • Autodesk Maya - Animation Basics
  • Working with Pololu Microcontrollers
  • Animating the Animatronic


***Additional notes on the course from Craig***

- You will need a PC computer for this course, the Pololu Controllers only work on PCs.

- Autodesk Maya has graciously agreed to extend their free educational software package to the Stan Winston School students who sign up for Craig's course.  Students will receive an email with instructions for how to get the free software as well as the AnimServo software Craig is providing.

- AnimServo is my own custom software that I wrote, Stan Winston School will provide it to students who sign up for the course. This is the first time it is being made available.  AnimServo is a plug-in for Maya that allows you to record animation in Maya and converts it into a script compatible with Pololu's Script editor. It can record from one to 24 servos.  Faceware is working with SWSCA jointly on this project and is aware that people will be using the software for the webcourse.





Course Curriculum

DAY 1 - Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 - 9:00am - 1:00pm PST


  • Course Overview
  • Pololu Maestro Controllers and Pololu Maestro Control Center Software:
  • The Controller Board: Description and How to Connect Servos to the Board
  • Pololu Maestro Control Center software: How to Use, Trim Servos, Set Start-Up Positions, How to Interpret the Scripting System, Understanding the Different Parts of the Script Editor
  • AutoDesk Maya: Maya Menus and Interface, Understanding the Basic Work Flow
  • Basic Geometry Functions: Creation, Translations, Rotations, Scaling, Object Naming & Parenting
  • Animation Basics: The Time-Line, Setting Key Frames, Animation Graph Editor, Outliner
  • The Script Editor
  • How to Install and Setup AnimServo Software


Workshop Student Homework Week 1:

Create and edit a motion script inside the Pololu Maestro Control Center (PMCC) software to control servos. Script should also have custom servo starting positions in order to demonstrate students understanding of the controller software.

DAY 2 - Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 - 9:00am - 1:00pm PST


  • AnimServo Overview
  • The Launcher GUI
  • The Servo Connector GUI: Explain and Demonstrate the Different Types of Connectors
  • The Recorder GUI: How to Record and Save Your Tracks.
  • The ServoRun and ServoIntegrated Scripts: How to Use these Scripts to Convert Your Tracks to the Pololu Script Format
  • Running AnimServo Scripts with the Pololu Maestro Control Center Software


Workshop Student Homework Week 2:

Animate at least two servos inside Maya and export the data to the PMCC software to create a custom servo routine that demonstrates that the student understands entire pipeline.

DAY 3 - Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 - 9:00am - 1:00pm PST


  • Examples of How to Connect and Use AnimServo
  • Using Faceware Analyzer and Retargeter Software with AnimServo
  • Advanced Maya Techniques for Creating AnimServo Connections: Constraint Systems, Skeleton Systems, Forward and Inverse Kinematics, Pole Vector Controls, Snap
  • Two Different Approaches for using AnimServo: Using Eye Mechanism Connected in Two Different Ways to Illustrate
  • How to Mix and Match Different Types of Connectors
  • Case Study: Creating a Maya Scene to Control the T-800 Head from the “3-Axis Robotic Head” Webcourse
  • Using Adobe Mixamo FUSE Character Creator Software with AnimServo


Workshop Student Homework Week 3:

Create a custom animation rig inside Maya that will equate to a real world animatronics solution and export its data to a real world animatronics system with a minimum of four servos. If an animatronic puppet is unavailable, demonstrate the system with four individual servos.


Circle thumbnail thumbb96fdd7fd3e7d0d0eeff04ee74ce4970

Craig Caton-Largent