Move Free
A commercial for Schiff

The inspiration was sparked by the director.  The ad agency sold the idea to the client. The concept, a marionette encumbered by it's strings, feels confined in it's movement. Once the product is introduced, the marionette cuts it's strings and finds freedom, mobility returns. The deal was made and the hunt to find Phillip Huber began. The director was familiar with Phillip's work in the film "Being John Malkovich" & felt this same performance precision & style was needed. Phillip accepted the project,  took their concept & made it three-dimensional.

Move free puppet sculpted head First, the character look was established. "a mature woman of classic beauty" was sculpted in clay. Each step of this project was carefully scrutinized by the clients via emailed photos & phone calls. A wig was created and these photos were sent for approval. The head transitioned from clay model to plaster mold to Celastic casting. Animated eyes were carefully engineered & fitted. Painted skin tones with airbrushed blush & shadow started to give her life. Move free puppet head


Next focus was the articulated body. Since the range & style of the marionette's movement were so crucial to this commercial, special care was taken in the design & fabrication of each joint. Specific movements had been outlined by the director & each of these needed to be "built in". The body went from drafted sketch to blocks of wood to a delicately carved & jointed figure. 

Then a costume design and fabrics were chosen. The production designer suggested muted earth tones for the set andMove Free Puppet costume requested the marionette's costume follow the same palette. Phillip dashed off some quick costume sketches for the clients' approval. Ardi Lawrence, the costumer, was able to begin work as soon as the marionette body was complete. The costume fabrics were so soft & sheer that undergarments were also constructed.



Move Free puppet sketch


The final, and in many ways the most important, step for this marionette was the control & stringing design. The heaviest grade of nylon fishline was chosen because the strings played an important role & needed to be clearly visible. With "Frieda" now painted costumed & strung she was ready for her close-up, "Mr. DeMille".
Move free Puppet


Move free commercial rehearsal In Los Angeles, the production designer assembled a very talented team of set & prop builders who created an entire miniature home complete to the finest detail. The first day at the studio was for rehearsal only. Moves were practiced and the puppet was posed & photographed in various locations to help establish camera angles & the sequence for the shots. Different walls of the miniature house were removable to allow the camera, lights & crew to change positions for each shot.


Move free puppet tech crewThe second day at the studio was shoot day. It began at 9:30 am  The schedule was a steady pace of setting lights, camera, props & marionette then executing the movement for an average of 1 to 3 takes, stopping to change everything for a new camera angle or puppet movement, & starting the set-up all over again. Phillip was kept busy most of the time, although there were occasions when his assistant or even a "C" stand could be used to hold the puppet while lights were being positioned. During one of these breaks Phillip brought out one of Taffy's Pick of the Litter to entertain the director & his little daughter who had just stopped by for a visit. Back on the set & just before another camera shot is prepared, Phillip can be seen sitting on the set & peering through the dining room arch of Frieda's Hollywood house.         

Move free commercial Director

move free commercial break


As this shoot approached completion it was nearly 1:30am the next day. Even the marionette was hunching a little! The director felt he got all the shots he needed & we gratefully heard him call it a "wrap". The clients, who had been observing the process both days & even stayed into the wee hours of the shoot, were delighted with the outcome. That's what its all about. Say goodbye Frieda

.Move free commercial puppet

Move free commercial wrap



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