If anyone stumbles across the head to a Philip K. Dick android, you may want to give David Hanson a call. Hanson, who created an animatronic version of the famous author, spoke to the New York Times about how he misplaced the head on a flight last December:
What happened to the android is a mystery, one that is more than mildly intriguing to fans who knew Mr. Dick as a futurist who advocated freedom and compassion for robots in an evolving world, and that has been debated in the technology press.
Less intrigued, rather more like depressed, is Mr. Hanson, the robot maker who left the head on an America West flight from Dallas to Las Vegas in December. En route to San Francisco, Mr. Hanson, 36, had to change planes in Las Vegas, something he hadn’t expected.
He had been traveling for weeks, pulling all-nighters in a race between his work as a roboticist (he also made a much-discussed robotic head of Einstein); as the founder of a fledgling company, Hanson Robotics; and his doctoral work. But unlike his creation, Mr. Hanson is, apparently, distressingly human.
“They woke me up, I got my laptop from under my seat, and being dazed, I just forgot that I had the robot in there,” said Mr. Hanson, referring to the head in a black, American Tourister roller bag, left in the overhead compartment.
Hanson was hoping to use the robot for a press junket for the film A Scanner Darkly, which opens July 7 and is based on a story by Dick. The Times calls the film “a graphic novel come to life,” features live-action photography with an animation overlay. MTV.com has scenes from the film and interviews with the director up on their site.
The director, Richard Linklater, created the film the same way he made his 2001 philosophical ramble Waking Life, shooting the actors in live action then painting over them with shimmery digital animation. According to SciFiWire, the effect was used to create a “Scramble Suit” worn by Keanu Reeves’ character in the film:
“The Scramble Suit was a big challenge,” said director Richard Linklater, who also adapted the story for the film. “There’s a lengthy description of it [in the book], but it’s also vague. It’s a bit of a blur of multi-personalities. We spent months coming up with a design for it.”
The outcome is a mask that generates an array of human faces of every age and race, which is worn by Reeves’ character, Bob Arctor. Arctor is a secret agent trying to uncover a drug ring.
The Scramble Suit is accomplished by using animation over live footage. Linklater used the technique for the entire movie, much as he did in his 2001 film Waking Life. “No one face ever shows up in total at one time,” the director said of the Scramble Suit. Author Dick’s likeness is one of the faces that pop through the hundreds of animated characters that make up the suit.
Animated scramble suits and missing robot heads … this sounds like one adaptation that would do its author proud.