War Horse is a great movie, and Spielberg employed an excellent mix of CGI, practical effects, and trained horses to pull off the titular character of Joey. The animatronics were used mostly for the scene involving Joey and a lot of barbed wire. Spielberg was so impressed with the animatronic he considered using more robotic horses for some of the simpler shots as well. The man is no stranger to animatronics and robots, having employed them for Jaws and Jurassic Park.
The film’s senior animatronic’s technician Chris Clark has put up test footage of the horse puppet on his Facebook page, and its is really inspiring. I’ve always preferred practical effects to excessive amounts of computer generated tom-foolery, and this video really helps prove that there’s nothing like the real thing.
The video is unfortunately un-embeddable, so you’ll have to check it out on Clark’s Facebook page.
War Horse is still playing in theaters now. You can read my original review of the film right here.