One of the most important techniques used to make the r50 stand scrutiny was a high level of detail, in which every gear, screw and joint moved the way a real robot's would. They would also have to work on a level of detail that would work when the robots were blown up to billboard size for outdoor ads. Ultimately, that resulted in an enormous amount of data, in which the models contained five million polygons (for a bit of comparison, ATI's Ruby, below, is made of 80,000 polygons). "It was a challenge to animate that because the model is so large that it doesn't move around very easily," Orloff says. Using LightWave 3-D to model, texture and render the bot, effects artist animated him in Maya on a lower resolution model before converting back to LightWave.
But besides merely being functional, the r50 also had to look cool. While the 1980s cartoon Transformers obviously lent influence, designers took cues from Japanese anime robots and samurai armor. "We definitely wanted him to look almost like a knight in shining armor, " Orloff says. "We used some of the door handles, windshield wipers and antennae to give that samurai look." They also made him functionally light yet muscular-looking by setting torso panels several inches away from the skeletal elements. "The hood on his chest and the wheels on his shoulders give him a weight on top that makes him look broad and sturdy," says Orloff, on the bot's heroic stature. "Iron Giant was a good reference too, because we didn't want our robot to be too scary. He's supposed to help people."