Date : 10/02/03
Animating the
Loch Ness Monster
maybe people really are seeing something

T   
he Loch Ness has recently been sonarred from stem to stern with nary a "blip" from the fabled Nessie. Could this be the end of the myth? Has the old girl finally been put to rest?

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo ...

Why not?

Because ... the Loch Ness monster is real. That is, real in the sense of puppets. Or perhaps real in the sense of prehistoric amphibious reptiles ... if ... a UFO puts one in the tank ... then takes it away to avoid a sonar bath.

The situation is reminiscent of crop circles. These things are definitely real ... but ... the real question is how are they made? And if you have a cents worth of sense, you know they are made (currently) by fairly sophisticated high school or college kids who make use of computer drawing programs and work out everything in detail so that they "get away with it". They are clearly, actively competing with one another to see who can do the most elaborate and fashionable pic.

Unfortunately, there can be no "animated" crop circles. To get to this level, one must find another venue.

Enter the dragon ...

An obvious choice would be Loch Ness. There is a history of beasties in the lago ... so why not give the people the circus they crave? I know I would find such a venture interesting at that age.

The big question is not "Can you fool people?" but rather "Can you fool people on the cheap?". Clearly, with the resources of Stan Winston's monster factory, one could fool anybody. But Hollywood special effects are seldom used for anything other than making money. It costs too much to make monsters that look good.

Some important factors

Any fake Nessie that you construct is liable to universal constraints.

  • Distance to sighting
    This is a major concern. If too close the quality of your construction must be good to pass inspection. If too far away, it may go unnoticed.
  • Illumination
    Too much light reveals a shoddy fake Nessie. Too little and she goes unseen. Hence, night sightings fairly close are the preferred form of event.
  • Quantity of observers
    The more the better. But too many may reveal the puppeteers or their mechanisms.
  • Quality of observers
    Must be intelligent enough to own and operate cameras. But not so intelligent as to reject the "unbelievable" in favor of the mundane "hoax".
  • Movement of object
    To be believable, a living thing should do something. Not just bob like a cork. An ounce of liveliness is worth a pound of shoddy workmanship. So if your monster looks bad it must move good to make up for the lack.
lochness.gif - 5kb Here is a quick, cheap scheme. Three guys with ropes attached to the "float" pull there Nessie to any position within the yellow triangle. If the ropes are heavier than water, they sag under the lake and won't be noticed or get entangled in somebody's propeller.

One of them is attached by means of a stopper on the float that will cause the puppet to sink when pulled sharply. That way you can get rid of it quick if someone gets close ... or ... if you wish to end your display session. You can devise segments in the puppet so that it's body will move in waves (left-right or up-down) depending on your arrangement of fins. In fact, when pulling something flexible through the water, it would be hard to keep it from waving. The body just follows the direction that the float is pulled.

This reminds me of C3PO's arm extenders. They looked like they could cause movement but were rather the result of the actor's movement.

You get the picture? No? Well, the audience did. So yur' shore show sure rocks!


Look ... up in the sky ... it's a bird ... it's a plane ... no ... it's a guy with a wire attached to his underwear!!!

Now, I'm just foolin' around here for a few minutes. Think of what one could devise with several helpers and many weekends of design and preparation. Do you think anybody does this? Naaaaahhhhhhh ...

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