Creature Shop Tools

These are some of the tools I developed for the Creature Shop.


We needed quite a complex character system with rigs consisting of joints, bones and muscles. We also needed a hierarchial set of expression controls to give both general and detailed control over the rigs. The system had to be able to handle detailed meshes and deform them quickly.


We connected existing animatronic controllers to allow puppeteers to control the character in real-time. The puppeteers saw characters with detailed textured meshes, deforming in response to their movements with minimal latency. Doing this in 1993 was a real challenge, and required SGI Onyx workstations and a lot of optimisation.

Lip Sync

We needed to combine the performance of a puppeteer with really accurate lip sync. The system worked from script dialogue to produce phonetics which were timed in the scene editor. The puppeteer could then take this technical lip sync and overlay their own performance to add emphasis and character.

Virtual Set

For The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss we produced virtual set backgrounds for live action puppet characters. The Onyx video output was composited with a live camera feed. The budget of the project prohibited any re-rendering, so a look was designed that could be rendered live on set as a final output.


We wanted a fur system with an extremely accessible interface. The system was capable of interactive rates on models with a hundred thousand hairs, and had a user interface more suitable for a non-technical fur designer than a TD. The fur was rendered with a proprietary hardware-assisted renderer.


The feather system consisted of a feather designer application, and an addition to the fur system for feather placement and styling. The application allowed fcurves to control the shape, distribution and randomness of all aspects of the feather. The uniform straight feathers were then sized and curled when placed.


As we adopted mental ray before there were any interface tools available, I developed node-based shader interfaces as well as a live connection between our scene system and the renderer.


I developed a complete farm management system for our mental ray renders, with an emphasis on visualisation of the state of all the render nodes.