Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo - the first 5 minutes of this automata documentary

I had the honor of being interviewed for a brief history of automata. The documentary was included as a featurette on the two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo release of the movie Hugo, a Martin Scorsese film.

A few short segments in which I speak have been released previously. I posted about them here, here, and here. The producer of the documentary, EMC West, has just created a page for the project on their site which includes the first 5 minutes of the 13 minute long featurette. Other speakers in the film includes director Martin Scorsese, special effects expert Dick George, automata artist Thomas Kuntz, and several others.

From the EMC West web site:

One of the key elements of the five-Oscar-winning Hugo is the part of the story which revolves around an automaton. Did such an automaton exist? If it did, how would it work? These questions are answered in this fascinating tour of the history of automata, from ancient Greece to modern-day masters of creating clockwork life.

Here is where you can view the first 5 minutes of the documentary The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo on the EMC West web site.


Blogger Paul F. Grayson - Chief Engineer said...

Is there any idea of how the cams in automata were marked for cutting?

November 14, 2013 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Paul - I haven't read anything definitive on the matter. I have long assumed that the linkages to the arm were all completed first, then an uncut cam blank loaded into the machine. A scribe attached to what would later be the cam follower could mark the cam contour as the automaton's hand was made to trace the letter/shape manually while the machine was running. I would have started with wooden cams to make the trial and error process a little less costly and time-consuming, then finalized them in brass. This is all speculation on my part.


November 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM  

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