Rick Baker. Tom Savini. Ve Neil. Greg Nicotero. Howard Berger. Any of these sound familiar?
How about Michael Jackson in “Thriller”? The zombies in George Romero’s “Of the Dead” films? Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean”? Heath Ledger’s “Joker” in the Batman franchise?
These are examples of films with amazing make-up and special effects and the names above are just a few of the many people who have come together to bring characters to life on screen.
There’s a saying that the best make-up is the make-up no one notices, but don’t underestimate the power that special effects and character make-up has on filmmaking and storytelling. Without a team of talented make-up artists and designers working together to create the unique characters in our film scripts, classic characters like Edward Scissorhands and the Werewolf in “An American Werewolf in London” would not exists to this today.
In addition, special effects makeup plays a huge role in helping actors truly feel like the character they are portraying in films; they literally BECOME the character through makeup design. Make-up is also a great way for filmmakers to wow the audience and build the overall legitimacy of the character in their film. Through special effects makeup, the audience does not see Arnold Schwarzenegger on the big screen but instead they see a cyborg who has traveled back in time to terminate the mother of the leader of a future rebellion.
With the improvements to Computer Graphics, many people are worried that the make-up industry for film will soon be rendered unnecessary. However, there are still many directors who believe that you cannot get the same performance from a CG character that you can from an actor in full makeup. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t willing to utilize CG to enhance the make-up and character. One great example of amazing special effects and character make-up (combined with some CG) is the 2007 fantasy film “Pan’s Labyrinth” by Guillermo Del Toro. Here’s a quick video of the making of some of these creatures:
Blog written by Pixel Productions Intern, Rachel Woodburn.