Monday, March 4, 2013

Making It Up As You Go

I've said it a hundreds of times, if not a thousand... F/X is 10% know-how and 90% making it up as you go along.

I've spent the last month working on "Scruffy", one of the werewolf puppets for Predatory Moon. I've never done a large creature-puppet like this before, and the F/X list calls for three different versions that can do three different things. Scruffy is the attack puppet that we'll be using to bite and claw victims with. The other two, whom we've christened "Snowball" and "Buttercup", are to be mechanized for expressions.

I did mention that I've never built anything like this before, right?

So it has been a month of gnashing my teeth, swearing, and pulling out my hair while also jumping for joy and praising the Film Gods. As I write this, Scruffy is almost camera-ready and all the mistakes I made while putting him together have gone on the list of What Not To Do when I start on his buddies this week.

This weekend we did some B-Unit work for Predatory Moon, and the FX Makeup artist (Nicole Sweeney) and I had to tackle another problem that I'd never run into before... an actor (Sean Landenberger) with a very long beard that he couldn't shave off. Our plan was to rip his face off.

My first thought was to go with a method that I use when it comes to having to put any kind of prosthetics in hair... a method known as "soaping out" which uses melted bar soap to slick down the hair and keep it as close to the skin as possible. Unfortunately, Sean's thick, curly beard proved to be too much for this.

Then we thought we could cover it somehow and then use gelatin blood to hide it. Knowing how much fun gelatin is to get out of any type of long hair, I suggested we try gluing some plastic wrap to his chin as a barrier, then painting that with latex. Well, once again the bushiness of the beard was our enemy, and before long we had a flesh-colored sack hanging off his chin that really started resembling something you'd expect to see in a porno. Needless to say, we had to ditch that idea.

The solution was finally to abandon all hope of tearing his face off, and settle on raking werewolf claw marks across his face. Nicole slashed his face up with tissue and latex and I ran some blood tubes hidden in his hair. It turned out very well and Sean died beautifully for the camera.

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