Scappoose, OR (KPTV) — When Katy Perry rode into the Super Bowl half-time show on a gleaming gold lion, a group of Oregonians watched with pride.
Thirteen puppeteers operated the 14-foot tall, 24-foot long lion as it moved into University of Phoenix stadium, while Perry stood on the lion’s back and sang her hit song “Roar.”
A team fromScappoosee-based Michael Curry Design crafted the puppet in just eight weeks.
“These things you can never say in advance what you’re doing because it’s a big surprise,” said Curry. “So something like this that was so well-received by the public, we’re really proud, just super proud.”
Curry is well-known for creating the puppets for the Broadway production of The Lion King.
His team has designed puppets and products for Cirque de Soleil, theme parks and the Olympics.
After they created flowers for Perry’s Prismatic World Tour, her team turned to the company to create the dramatic piece for the Super Bowl performance.
“This lion started off as a piece of art from Katy Perry, her team,” said Charles Babbage, the art director at Michael Curry Design. “Our job was to translate it into reality.”
Babbage said they first created a computer model, then machines carved the first version of the lion out of foam.
The pieces were then cast into carbon fiber and covered with gold mirror.
The mirror was painted to maximize the impact.
The designers wanted the lion to be life-like, so the lion’s legs and mane were separate pieces from the body.
“We actually used sort of origami techniques,” said Babbage. “We unfolded this 3D model into flat patterns and then just like you would with paper, out of foam, folded it back up so now [the mane] had this flexibility to it when the lion moved its head.”
Perry wore a safety strap so she wouldn’t fall off the puppet. It was so large, she had to duck to get onto the field.
“The way she was striking the reins, the lion and her they were connected in a way that I believed it as a character,” said Curry. “And that’s the standard for me. Do I believe it was a prop, a theatrical device or did I believe it was a living breathing character?”
The performance was the most watched half-time show in history, with 118.5millionn viewers tuning in.
“As a matter of fact, it looked better than I had hoped,” said Babbage. “You always hope that it goes that great. You’re always really happy when it just exceeds your expectation.”