The interesting way AMC's 'Humans' taught its cast to realistically act like robots

Humans will tudor william hurtAMCWill Tudor, left, plays a malfunctioning synth owned by William Hurt on AMC’s ‘Humans.’

One of the things that stands out on AMC’s “Humans” is the unique and believable way the robots, or synths as they’re called on the series, move.

Producers didn’t leave that very important aspect of the show’s robots to chance. It held a Synth School.

“From the outset we wanted to make the Synths as close to humans as possible, not jerky or robotic,” executive producer Derek Wax told Business Insider. “This is part of the design, obviously, so that Synths can deceive humans and fake that they are human.”

Synth School was taught by choreographer and movement director Dan O’Neill, who taught all the actors and extras playing synths. More than 100 extras, 20 at a time, attended the classes. O’Neill, who collaborated with theatre company Frantic Assembly on developing the synth movement, studied aspects of martial arts practice Tai Chi, and the grace and economy of movements in a

Humans synths amcAMCA synth showroom on AMC’s ‘Humans.’

Japanese tea ritual, as well.

Synth movement is based on three major principles: The movement had to be economical, as Synths would want to conserve battery energy; they should be graceful, because humans should desire it for its beautiful design (like an iPhone), and their movements should show purpose, because every task would have already been planned from start to finish in the synth’s processor.

“We didn’t want their movements too comical or boxy,” O’Neill told BI. “We started out with workshops at Frantic Assembly where we thought about the way they would move and why they would move. We also thought about what would make humans more comfortable around them, so we thought about letting them blink every so often, something humans would do.”

“They would not be making extraneous movements in the way that human beings twitch and jerk and wave their arms around when they’re talking and use all sorts of useless movements,” said Wax.

Humans airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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