Creatures and Monsters Extend Stay at Academy

In case you haven’t had a chance to check out Yoda, Gizmo and Doctor Octopus-just to name a few-living up on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Fourth Floor Gallery, there’s still time.

Displaying nearly 100 memorable television and movie characters, “It’s Alive! Bringing Animatronic Characters to Life on Film” will remain in Beverly Hills through Sept. 10.

The exhibition showcases small and large models, maquettes and animatronic creatures with their mechanisms in addition to video clips of the final product.

Two animatronic pigeons, from “The Producers,” created by The Jim Henson Company, are among some of the many memorable icons at “It’s Alive!”

“Animatronics have played a key role in creating some of film’s most memorable and beloved characters,” said Brian Henson, co-CEO of The Jim Henson Company, which will also provide exhibits of well-known characters from ground-breaking films including “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.”

“We are excited to be a part of this exhibit giving the public a rare opportunity to see their favorite creatures up close.”
The Jim Henson Company is just one of many corporations and artists featured in the exhibition.

The gallery includes other pieces of work from Walt Disney Company, Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., Eric Allard, Rick Baker, Dave Barclay, Lyle Conway, Richard Edlund, Ray Harryhausen, Robert Short and Phil Tippett.

Beginning with early fantasy films, animatronics gained popularity in the 1970s and continued through the 1990s as filmmakers have created such unique characters as Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back,” Harry, the giant ape of “Harry and the Hendersons” and, most recently, Aslan, the lion of “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

While the recent development of computer-generated imagery (CGI) has provided a more advanced alternative for the movie industry, animatronics allows some of today’s motion pictures, including “Herbie Fully Loaded” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” to produce real-time performances.

“Animatronics is a real combination of art and technology, making it possible to manufacture creatures that can perform in front of the camera and interact with actors, in real time,” said Ellen Harrington, the Academy’s exhibitions curator and special events programmer.

In the Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery, concept drawings, storyboards and photographs from workshops and sets inform visitors about the complex process required for designing and developing animatronic characters.

Films of new and old are represented at the gallery, including “102 Dalmatians,” “Alien 3,” “AVP: Alien vs. Predator,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “Beetlejuice,” “Cats & Dogs,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “The Dark Crystal,” “Doctor Dolittle,” “George of the Jungle,” “Ghostbusters,” “Gremlins 2,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Labyrinth,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Jurassic Park,” “Men in Black II,” “Mighty Joe Young,” “Predator,” “RoboCop 2,” “Short Circuit,” “Snow Dogs,” “Spider-Man 2” and “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.”

Located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offers free admission and is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. The Academy will be closed over the Labor Day weekend.

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