systems

Animatronics & Robotics for Film & Television

micromagic

Waldo (device used in animatronics to control the head/face of a creature)

 

I have often been asked why the control device that is used to perform an animatronics head/face is called a waldo? I rember hearing some story a long time ago about somebody during the early days of Jim Henson's creature shop (1980's) building the first waldo used within animatronics. The device was then named after the creator?

 

I believe the term waldo is used in other industries and applications where a similar device is used to control a remote mechanical manipulator. For example within the nuclear industry when handling hazardous materials. So the term has probably been around alot longer, possibly originating from the 1942 novel "Waldo & Magic Inc." by Robert Heinlein. The novel is in two parts, the first part being - "waldo". The following is a snippet from the "waldo" synopsis;

 

Afflicted with myasthenia gravis from earliest childhood, Waldo lacks the muscular strength to walk or lift things with his arms.  By living in the weightlessness of space he is able to move freely.  His primary invention is a system of remote-controlled mechanical hands which the world has nicknamed "waldoes."

 

I believe this to be the source of the name given to animatronic "Waldo".