Insanely Lifelike Animatronic Severed Head

This animatronic head from The World’s End absolutely blew me away. It is, compared to others I’ve seen, extremely simple but so convincing!

from the description:

This is a short collection of footage and photos taken during the build of Greg Townley’s animatronic head for Edgar Wright’s “THE WORLD”S END. Greg played a teenage “Blank” (Alien humanoid robots), whose head was knocked off against a urinal by Simon Pegg’s character Gary King as a precursor to the big fight in the Cross Hands pub.

The build process starts with a lifecast of the performer’s head which is cast out in wax clay, the eyes opened and generally cleaned up. A fibreglass mould is taken of this and a fibreglass core produced from it, which will be the basis for the mechanical understructure on which the skin will sit. Softened silicone, pigmented to the base colour of the performer’s skin is poured into the mould and when it has set forms the skin for the head.

The fibreglass core is then mechanised using 12 servos, 10 for the eyes and brows and 2 for the jaw and is mechanically completely self contained, with a magnetic power switch which can be operated through the silicone skin. A second “working” skin is used to test the movement, after which the “hero” skin is stuck down onto the mechanical underskull and the head goes through a period of testing and programming with the performance system.

Once programming is completed the skin is prepped for painting, seams trimmed and any bubbles in the silicone filled. The rubber is painted with a mix of oil paints and liquid silicone, using reference photos and colour swatches taken during the lifecast and acrylic teeth produced from casts of the performers own teeth to replace the test set already in the head.

Finally, the back, sides and front hairline of the hair is hand punched and a knotted wig used for the longer top section, then the eyelashes and eyebrows added to complete the cosmetic process.


Lifecast: Tom Packwood, Brian Best & Nicola Grimshaw

Cleanup sculptor: Justin Pitkethly

Mould: Tom Packwood

Animatronic design/ build: Gustav Hoegen

Electronics/ performance software: Matt Denton

Silicone skin, seams & paint: Nicola Grimshaw

Hair: Maria Cork & Waldo Mason

Prosthetic Supervisor: Waldo Mason

Animatronic Supervisor: Matt Denton

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