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Published on Jan 5, 2011
www.mckeewildthings.com Behind the scenes footage I (Greg McKee) took in 1993 & 94 of the making of our electric sheep for the movie "Babe". 11 electric sheep were made jointly by 2 separate companies. Robotechnology and John Cox's creature workshop. With my partners Chris Chitty and Matt Ward, my company Robotechnology designed and created all the internal animatronics. Our colleague John Cox and his crew created the cosmetic exteriors. The sheep were sculpted by Belinda Villani who also sculpted cows and horses etc for digital scanning for Rythmn and Hues' digital animation efforts. John Cox and John Searle, Jason Baird and Paul Katte worked on the sheep rubber skins and fibreglass cores and my wife Christine Nagy made the Fleeces with Wayne Nelson. The faces were flocked with nylon.
I had made the tiny sheep prototype standing on the storyboard to counter concerns expressed by other companies that a self-contained free standing animatronic was impossible. Other companies originally vying for the job had insisted a puppeteer would be required to be hidden underneath each sheep with an arm inside them! We knew better. I made the first full size body prototype then Matt Ward, Chris Chitty, Tim Gregg & Andy Shaw developed it further whilst Chris Chitty developed servo systems and other electronics. Matt designed to multi axis necks. I designed and prototyped all the talking heads and Esteban Mendoza, Jason Baird & Arthur Spink helped make multiples of the tiny components. I fitted all the skins to the mechanisms to allow them to move as naturally as possible and designed inserts for the molds for the foam latex skins
We finished our 11+ characters in January 1994 and filmed them all in Robertson on the NSW southern Highlands for about 6months. We worked alongside the Jim Henson Company who built other farmyard characters and assisted them as they continued building & finishing their characters deep into the production.. The sheep poo was copied from real poo but made from resin and sawdust and coated in KY jelly. The robotic ruminant rump is acknowledged in the engineering industry as the pinnacle of robotics technology so far!