How to get A Head in Science and Tech

By Ryan Cassidy, Chief Technician TrinkeTron project at Unicorp Industries

After thoroughly researching many of the Famous Floating Heads of Popular Culture, I started getting really into making top ten lists, and decided to make a different top-ten list of desirable traits for the TrinkeTron’s floating head, but only got to four before deciding that was probably enough. So, here are my top four desirable traits of a successful TrinkeTron head, presented in order of importance:

  1. It must be turbo futuristic
  2. It must be Human-ish, but not a specific human, and certainly not Eric Bogosian
  3. The face should command authority and respect, but shouldn’t be scary or intimidating
  4. It must be able to convey a range of facial expressions and be able to mouth words

I consulted a professional computer graphics specialist about designing such a head. This lady  would have been happy to do it for $100 per hour. I asked if she would instead prefer an internship opportunity with UniCorp, where she could work on groundbreaking futuristic important science projects, drink all-you-can-drink free coffee AND have indefinite usage of a wonderfully starchy lab coat with an embroidered Unicorp logo, but she declined. She was at least polite about it, but once again, I was foiled by budget constraints. Fortunately I am an innately optimistic individual; one who views such setbacks not as failures, but as “Opportunities for Creative Problem-Solving”. Thus Loyal Ronaldo, my best, brightest, and only intern, was tasked with solving the problem creatively.

Intern Ronaldo at his workstation, looking at skulls

I recall feeling less-than-confident about his ability to handle this assignment when I first saw the piles of cut up cardboard bits and balls of disused packing tape littered about. For this, he was hastily accosted for turning my laboratory into a “Kindergarden class’ arts & crafts corner”. I had just returned from a hellishly busy night shift at the cafe where I moonlight, and was in no mood to find my lab out-of-sorts. I felt a little guilty about speaking so severely to my only intern, but all remorse instantly evaporated when I reviewed Ronaldo’s expense report for the project days later. It included a large tub of phosphorescent paint, three styrofoam heads, an ounce of something called “Purple Wowzer”, a black t-shirt with skulls on it, exactly eight 255g bags of Intense Pickle Doritos, and various other curious expenses I would have a difficult time justifying to my superiors. I decided it was time to have a serious conversation about the future of Ronaldo’s Internship with Unicorp and scheduled a meeting.

UniCorp is not affiliated with, nor has it received any promotional consideration from Doritos.

When I saw the head he had made however, I un-decided to have that serious conversation with him, and un-scheduled that meeting, because that 3D model was goddamned brilliant!  There was no need for further iteration, it was simply perfect. Now, although his creative process is bewildering to me, and although he spends most of his time listening to “Nu Metal” and drawing pictures of skulls on the computer, I am convinced Ronaldo might be some kind of genius. I am most fortunate to have him onboard, and am particularly thankful for having his signature on the standard Unicorp Internship contract, where an explicit and robust Ownership of Intellectual Property Clause exists.

The last part of the job required us to develop a piece of software that could match the TrinkeTron’s hyper-sophisticated artificial intelligence engine with the means of animating the full range of human expression, so we did that, and called it the MEE for MaxilloFacial Emotive Engine.

Some examples of the MEE’s Output