Certain special props were made by the model department. While Bill and Chris made Helmets, Boots, gloves and backpacks for the suits and Richard made helium3 canisters, I started on GERTY. A 1:1 prop that was in every other page of the script, had dialogue (voiced by Kevin Spacey) and was literally Sams co-star. No pressure to do a good job then? Like most drawings laid before me, there is always a few minutes for me to get over the initial intimidation. This looks complex, this looks hard, its too big, there isnt enough time and so on. But once I've studied the drawings for a while, everything clicks into place and I can see clearly how the thing is broken down into its constituent components. The choice of Material was also key here - FOAMEX. Bill had stock and I concurred that it was the best material for the job. Its basically an expanded PVC sheet and comes in a variety of thicknesses ranging from 1mm, 2mm,5mm,10mm and I dont know what else.Its fast, light and rigid. It damages quite easily (as in dings and stuff) but we didnt think it would come in for that much punishment. Reading the script, contact between Sam and Gerty wasnt that evident, but Sam (we learned) liked to ad-lib (to the films benefit) so who knew what would happen. Even if we had have had prior knowledge, there really wasnt the time to make this out of anything tougher.
£1 SHOP AGAIN The core basics lie on my workbench. you can see the enlarged drawings on a board in the background. these were blown up to actual size and I worked directly from those. the first piece of detail is added to the back of Gerty in the shape of three clip-on car cup-holders from the pound shop that Bill had supplied. I cut them and glued in a piece of rod fro the new handles. old style scissor switches almost...a little incongruess maybe...for the high level of technology everywhere else. I really wanted to fit a working red and green light next to each switch to futurize them a bit, but there really wasnt the time!

but lets talk about the one on the right!
as the extra modules go on, Gerty starts to look more complicated. This shot was originally a jokey homage to a certain FX suypervisor who's famous in the industry (who shall remain nameless) for posing with a miniature with an airbrush that has no airline attached - you'll notice, I look like I'm about to drill something - but there is no drill-bit in my drill!!

LOOK CLOSER An area of detail I had a little fun with was one of two recessed cut outs. I thought that there might be a lot of fibre-optics inside gerty, thinking that LIGHT computers might be up and running at this point, but without the time to install real iluminated FO's, I dressed in some Ultra-violet green tubing to simulate FO's. Gavin wasnt convinced and asked me to change them for black wires instead.

Bill donated his own mug to the production in the hope they would use it during the shoot. it wold have been the only 'in-joke' in the movie and you would have to be pretty astute to spot it. Sam Rockwell was a main character in HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY which featured dolphins leaping out of the water. too subtle? too obvious? I'm not sure why it wasnt used....and when I rang the production to make sure it had made its way to the stage, they didnt seem to know where it was....and so it was never used.

UNGAINLY THING yes, but what about the robot arm? Positionable but not animatable was the brief for both Gertys' robot arms. I solved this with a series of holes and pins for the larger load bearing joints and nut and bolt tention joints for the smaller joints towards the 'hand' end. The final plates havnt been stuck on yet, so you can see inside the arms.

Again, without the budget, the production couldnt afford an animatronic hand, so a 'posable' hand was made. All that had been established is that it had THREE fingers, so the actual design was down to me. I did a simple tech drawing which I could follow and added a few details as I went along - like the pistons and the rubber fingertips.

Perspex with hidden bolts behind the grey panels

MY LITTLE EYE Another idea of mine was to have a camera nestled between the fingers so that GERTY could see what he was doing. I d have even put a light inside - if I'd had the time!! this was my own colour scheme for the hand.
RE-SPRAY Orders to respray, so it was out with the masking tape! this is the final colour.
AWWWWWW?! Gerty and the two arms delivered complete and on time to the stage (behind the set, this was taken) but it wasnt going to my pleasure to dirty them down!


Gerty is in his track on the set, but its a few days yet until the shoot. lots of workmen walking around with paint and bits of scaffolding tube, etc - you're always worried someones going to accidentaly damage the thing before weve even started - I'm sure its happened to someone....oh yeh...ME!
DIRTY GERTY Like some mis-treated vending machine - Gerty was covered in COFFEE!!.... is it supposed to be 3 years worth of dirt or 15? (you'll have to see the film) Comes with the territory to think about the details to this degree....or it should!



There's even coffee on the arms too - if this is so, why is the rest of the base so clean? and if the robot arms clean the base after each 3 year tour of duty for the next occupant, why do the arms not clean up gerty and each others' arms too? (pick, pick, pick)
I MADE THIS! taken on someones mobile phone, so not the BEST quality picture, but I wish it had have been. maybe then it could have been used in publicity articles more.
1ST SHOOT DAY Sams stunt double stage left.



Maybe it will turn up in the 10th anniversary Blu-Ray release.

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