ROBOPRIEST Two-Person Robot Costume
The idea of ROBOPRIEST started as a joke on Twitter between me and Selene Luna, an actress friend of mine in Los Angeles. We were trying to come up with funny ideas to collaborate on wedding services.The joke then turned into reality when Selene asked me to build ROBOPRIEST for her one woman show,”Sweating the Small Stuff” in San Francisco. The costume consisted mostly of cardboard and foam rubber with a skeleton of plastic hula hoops. The “eyes” are speakers equipped with voice-activated electro-luminescent wire. The audio for ROBOTPRIEST’s voice and various sound-effects were created by sound designer, Jim Coursey.
The costume was constructed in my living room in halves and consumed most of my living space. It also consumed most of my daily thought as I'd never made a costume this elaborate and there was so much to learn. I loved it and poured myself into the project. The working claw hands were repurposed children's toy claws, painted silver. I can't sew, so everything is held together with hot-glue, zip ties, and staples. To create the metallic skin, I stretched silver lamé fabric over the foam/cardboard outer shell of the costume. The fabric is held in place with spray-adhesive. The arms for ROBOPRIEST are re-purposed duct work from the local hardware store. The eyes are a combination of plastic bowls and plates with integrated E-L wire, speakers, and a sound sensor. The sounds are controlled with an iPod from inside the costume.
Selene pilots ROBOPRIEST from a harness attached to my back. The harness is called The Piggyback Rider and is really just a backpack strap with a bar that runs along the bottom. This allowed Selene to comfortably stand on my back and easily hop off if needed. The top of ROBOPRIEST is equipped with a hatch from which Selene can address her minions. The inside of the hatch is decorated with a collage of nudie magazine clippings (NSFW), something that I thought appropriate for the insides of a repressed robot's head at the time, although it may just have been all the hot-glue fumes getting to me.
Below are some of the concept sketches for ROBOPRIEST. It's interesting to see how the project grew into something completely unique, totally weird, and more fun than anything else than I've ever been involved with.
Sound designer Jim Coursey really came through with some great audio. The sounds bring ROBOPRIEST to life. I especially love the "Wedding Music" clip. I wanted the eyes to light-up with every syllable of the robot's voice, so I integrated a simple audio sensor that triggers electroluminescent wire when the audio is activated. This really helped tie the voice to the robot.