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Just Happy bits: Working With The MIB Worms

MIB worm puppets

21 Feb Just Happy bits: Working With The MIB Worms

During our work at Industrial Light & Magic, Caruso was asked to direct a commercial for Sprint that featured the hilarious alien worms from the Barry Sonnenfeld film, Men In Black II.

What made this project a favorite was the extraordinary experience of working with Rick Baker’s brilliant artists at Cinnovation. The memorable motion picture worms were brought to life by an ensemble of skilled puppeteers, animatronic geniuses and mad comedians.

For our commercial, a raised modern set was built inspired by the Bo Welch aesthetic of the two MIB films. For the wide shots, each full body puppet was controlled by two puppeteers working beneath the set. In close up the worms required more articulated movement and for these 4x scale versions were fabricated. These stunning over-scale worms were shot against green then re-sized and composited into the live action set in post. They required a team of 7 puppeteers, some operating large mechanical rods, while others drove eyes, mouth and antennae via a table crowded with RC controllers. The result was an awesome seamless dance of technical coordination and character performance.

But the highlight of this memorable gig was directing this improvisational team of actors. As we played with alternate lines and action, the Cinnovation artists never stopped inventing and adding to the piece, an inspiring experience indeed.

Original TV commercial for Sprint directed by Robert Caruso