Hyperhelion Header Logo
The Movie The Story Production Resources Screenings Contact



There are two major types of puppets used in stop-motion animation. One type uses a clay figure, often with a flexible wire armature. These figures are very malleable and animation effects can include resculpting the figure to "morph" it into another shape. The California Raisins and Gumby are examples of this type of clay figure animation, or Claymation .

The other type of puppet has a rigid, jointed armature and is usually covered in a soft foam latex skin. Facial expressions are often created by cable-controlled mechanisms inside the figure. A latex-skinned rigid armature puppet can be made to look very realistic, including realistic hair, glass eyes and clothing made of fabric like the real item. Hyperhelion uses this type of puppet to depict Deh'ma Jow'say, Speen Relco and Rayd Wat Sinn.


This puppet of Speen Relco uses a rigid jointed armature
covered by foam latex.

The Armature

The armatures for the puppets used in Hyperhelion are constructed from metal plates and steel balljoints. The tension of the joints is controlled with screws, loose enough to allow smooth movement but tight enough that the limbs stay in position for the shot. The armature is patterned after a skeleton, jointed in the same way as the human body. The hands of the armature are made of a special flexible aluminum armature wire with rigid segments between the joints so the fingers bend naturally. The skull is sculpted plastic and has a hinged jaw so the character's mouth can open.


This armature, used for Speen Relco and Rayd Wat Sinn,
features a plastic head and teeth.


Foam Latex

The skin and musculature of the puppets is made of a soft rubber material known as foam latex. To create a foam latex body, you first start by sculpting the character in clay. The sculpture must be completely detailed, with every wrinkle and crease. A mould is then made of the sculpted form. The armature is placed inside the mould and the latex mixture is poured in and baked to cure it. The latex mixture foams up during the process, forming a soft spongy mass which compresses and flexes like flesh when the armature is moved. This makes the puppet appear to have muscles under its skin. The same type of foam latex material is used for prosthetic makeup in live-action movies and television, such as Klingon foreheads and Ferengi ears in Star Trek.


A partly finished Speen Relco puppet. The eyes have not yet
been installed, and the hair has not been trimmed


The finished Speen Relco puppet as seen in the movie.
Note the skin texture and details such as eyes, eyebrows and fingernails.
Speen wears a costume made from a close-woven fabric.


A closeup of the large Deh'ma Jow'say puppet.
Deh'ma's ears have armature wire embedded around the edges
to allow her to twitch her ears.


A shot of the Speen Relco and Deh'ma Jow'say puppets being filmed.
The puppet mounts and control cables are clearly visible here, but will
be out of frame in the film footage.