Meet Gourdy, the world’s first sentient pumpkin!

UPDATE: GOURDY 2.0 is now live! Details and a new post shortly!

  Previous post: Meet Gourdy, the world’s first sentient pumpkin.  Ok, not quite sentient, but still really cool. Gourdy is an early prototype for my digital-puppetry jack-o-lantern system.  Eventually he’ll be a fully interactive / reactive magic pumpkin. For now he’s made of a 7″ tablet running a looping quicktime movie.  He’s dirt simple to build, and you can build him too!  Here’s how: Step 1: Download one of these eyeball animations to your tablet Here’s a couple of animations I made – a friendly one and an unfriendly one.  You’ll have to get them to play in a loop.  Video Loop Player for iOS or Video Looper for Android will get the job done.
Right click, Save As

Right click, Save As



Step 2: Carve a pumpkin Start by tracing your eyeball shapes onto a piece of paper, then transferring that shape onto the pumpkin.  Make sure that the holes you cut don’t show the edges of your tablet. Be sure to plan ahead and leave enough room for a mouth that doesn’t show the tablet either. Step 3: Wrap your tablet in plastic wrap and put it in the pumpkin This is obvious, but not easy.  You’ll want to scoop out as much pumpkin meat as possible without breaking through the surface.  The general idea is to get the tablet as close as possible to the eye holes so there’s no visible gap.  Secure the tablet in place with toothpicks, or however you see fit. Pro Tips:
  1. Gourdy has big round eyes, but your pumpkin doesn’t have to.  Just make sure that you choose an eye shape that works well with the animation.  You can try out designs by laying a piece of paper directly on your tablet’s screen and drawing eye shapes.  This paper will also make a great template when you carve the pumpkin.
  2. Choose a pumpkin that’s bigger than you’re used to. The bigger the pumpkin the better.  Tablets have more of a border around the screen than you think, and it’s a tight fit.  Pumpkins with flat fronts are best.
  3. Use an LED candle instead of a real candle, unless you like the smell of burning electronics.
  4. Make your own eyeball movie! There’s all kinds of free animation software out there.  Why not make yours a cyclops? Or give Gourdy expressive eyebrows or some lovely eyelashes?  The possibilities are endless.
That’s all!  Now go scare some kids.  And whatever you do, if you make your own sentient pumpkin send me some photos! Happy Halloween –David