The 1986 science fiction comedy “Short Circuit” was conceived after the producers distributed an educational video about a robot to various colleges. The producers then decided to question human reactions to a ‘living’ robot, on the premise that none would initially believe its sentience. This was done by studying other films with a prominent robot cast in them for inspiration like the “Star Wars” series.
To create the robot Number 5, most of the arm movements of Number 5 were controlled by a “telemetry suit” that was carried on the puppeteer’s upper torso. It worked where each joint in the suit had a separate sensor, allowing the puppeteer’s arm and hand movements to be transferred directly to the machine while he was also voiced in real-time by his puppeteer. The director did this believing that it provided for a more realistic interaction between the robot and the other actors than putting in Number 5’s voice in post-production, although a few of his lines were re-dubbed later.
When it comes to science fiction the possibilities are near endless what can be imagined. What than matters is making what can be done in the real world of technology. By mixing imagination and real science somewhere along the way something pretty incredible can be made on film. Even a science fiction film with a little good humor to mix it up and a robot with a lot of heart.