Behind the scenes videos: The Making of ‘Steps’

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Last week, we revealed the amazing new Lexus brand film, Steps. Now it’s time to take a look behind the scenes to see how the huge hi-tech puppets were made, and how the advert was shot. Watch the film here.

The design of the humanoid figures featured in Steps began very traditionally with sketches and scale models sculpted in clay, which helped define their basic shapes and proportions. An understanding of how they might articulate was then evaluated by the puppeteers using three-dimensional models.

As a final design began to emerge from these sessions it became clear that controlling the overall weight would be a key challenge to overcome in order for the five puppeteers to animate each figure with human-like grace and fluidity. Unnatural or forced movements would immediately destroy the illusion of life within the figures.

The overall weight of each 11-foot-tall figure was therefore brought down to just 6.8kg by fabricating the skeleton from carbon fibre and using 3D printer technology to create uniformly thin yet strong outer shells. These shells were then painted and painstakingly hand-finished to deliver a polished metal effect — silver for the man and gold for the woman.

Each of the talented artists that brought these figures to life had individual performances to give, while simultaneously working within the group to achieve fluid, lifelike motion. The core weight and momentum of the figure rested on the shoulders of the central puppeteer. Further back another puppeteer controlled the torso and made the figure bend down in perfect coordination with a puppeteer controlling the head remotely. Finally, two other puppeteers were charged with controlling the arms and mechanical hands.

The combination of countless rehearsals, precise choreography and physical strength, not to mention each puppeteer’s dexterity, brought life and spirit to these otherwise innanimate figures. It was an ambitious project but also one which captures the essence of something that is Amazing In Motion.

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