Making of the Geminoid
The hair on our heads and in our faces are among the most defining characteristics of our visual personality. Here follow some reflections on this aspect of the making of Geminoid-DK.
As the nearly finished skin is attached to the skull of the robot, personality begins to shine through. This is one of the first times we see the combination of the skin and the moving parts. As the eyes are turned towards the camera, the head present itself in a completely different manner than the previous looks, where the direction of gaze was always fixed in the neutral position.
Working with the head here is Ms. Okada-san, the artisan responsible for the head. Her skill and endurance throughout the process greatly helped to make the production of the Geminoid-Dk a memorable experience.
The design choices of Okada-san is to a great extend what makes up the experience of looking at the geminoid today. Each portion of the face and head was given special attention. Every wrinkle and color variation is a result of her skillful hands.
The wig is produced by a leading wig manufacturer in Tokyo who specialises in wigs for the film industry and for traditional Japanese wigs.
It proved very difficult to match the "salt and pepper" hair of the original. Most wigs are made from a combination of several colors, and this is indeed also true for this wig.
In this case there is also the problem of matching the colors of a man of diffirent origin than most of the costumers of Japanese wig-makers.
The experienced wig makers took turns retreiving bumdles of hair samples and matching them to the original. This is furhter complicated by the difference in color depending on the placement on the head. The top and sides are more to the light, but the back of the head is significantly darker.
The result now to be seen on the had of the DK is in fact the second try. The first wig was significantly more brown, and the result was an immediate reaction of the Danish researchers.
It had to be changed.
The new wig is made from a combination of natural and artificial hair, blended with stands of hair from Henrik Scharfe.
Beard and brows
The remaining facial hair had to be implanted one strand at the time. This is a time consuming process that requires a strong focus. But it is also a choice that may affect the lifespan of the skin.
The problem is that each strand of hair has to be fastened to the silicone skin with a thin needle and a little bit of glue. And of course, the more pin pricks the skin has to endure, the more fragile it becomes, ultimatively reducing the life expectancy of the head.
Early on, the designers suggested to just paint the cheeks a little bit darker to simulate the beard to preserve the strength of the skin.
After a little debate, Henrik Scharfe wallked over to the chief designer and politely ask permission to borrow her hand. He then gently stroked her index finger against the 3-day beard on his left cheek.
This settled the matter and the next day, the geminoid had beard on both cheeks. The strands of hair used for the brows and beard were initially quite long. Dr. Scharfe trimmed them using his own beard trimmer.
Even though the Japanese hair dressers are very good, there is still significant difference in Eastern and Western hair styles. For this reason, we decided early on that we wanted a Danish hair dresser to cut and style the robot eventually.
Because of this, we also decided to make the wig and the individually attached hair (e.g., the bangs) somewhat long while we were still in Japan. That way, our local stylist had something to work with.
This also explains why the geminoid looks so strangely "Andy Warhol like" in the footage of the pre-flight tests on Youtube, and also during the first experiments we conducted in Japan before the robot was shipped to Denmark.
Once home in Denmark, we brought the DK to Pernille Gram, a well-known fashion stylist and hair dresser in Aalborg (see below.) That was a fun day, and actually the first time we move the DK out into the public.
The trip to the hair dresser's was documented by the Danish Broadcast Corporation and aired on a Sunday evening in prime time television. The clip can be seen here.