Wednesday, January 29, 2014

10 Things I Love About Movies, Part Three.

I was hoping to keep updating this on Fridays, but this last week got away from me.

3. Visuals (Special Effects)

I already went on about the CG aspect of visuals, now I want to go on about practical effects; makeup, props and stuff that’s right there with the actors as they’re filming. This obviously hits pretty close to home for me as I’ve finally settled into working in creating this sort of stuff myself – not for film specifically, but that’s besides the point here.

Special effects makeup, prosthetic appliances, you can call them whatever you want, but the notion of taking a bit of foam latex (or whatever works I guess) and gluing it on someone’s face to transform them into something else is pretty awesome to me.

If there’s a monster in the trailer, I’ll probably be interested. It goes without saying really. However, if it’s only onscreen for 5 minutes during the whole movie while the rest is uninspired chatter and idiots wandering about in the dark – I’ll probably hate it. There’s nothing more disappointing than the promise of seeing something interesting and having to wait and wait just of catch a glimpse. Some movies can pull it off, but that’s another point for later.

For now, we’re talking makeup and stuff. A great example of everything I’ve mentioned up to now is Hellboy II: The Golden Army. You’ve got an awesome cast, some amazing CG visuals and then some really great practical effects and makeup.  This movie is going to come up a lot on this list by the way – just wanted to let you know. Not only is it filled with some amazing looking creatures, it’s well done at that. Knowing the time, effort and skill it takes to just turn out a single piece of makeup that covers a person’s face, it really makes you appreciate it more when you see a full body suit.

The whole sequence in the Troll Market was one of the coolest sequences I’ve ever seen. EVERYTHING there was made, it wasn’t an existing set, they weren’t extras who looked a little weird. It was a huge set, everything  was a makeup/costume/puppet of some sort – the effort to create this was monumental.  This is exactly the sort of imagery that I’ve always wanted to capture in a movie, so there’s no doubt it’s something that would draw me into watching it.

That’s not to say that everything with a scene of crazy creatures is going to be a favorite of mine, there still has to be a couple more elements to it than that, but it’s definitely a good starting point. There’s a lot of movie that you might be thinking right now, “Oh, he must love whatever random movie you’re thinking of.” But, you might be wrong. For instance – and I’m sure I’ll suffer nerd rage over this – not a huge Star Wars fan. I used to be when I was a kid, but as I grew older I realized it was missing something for me to really keep it in my mind as a movie I love.

Another great example are the Lord of the Rings movies. I read The Hobbit as a kid and was always aware of these books, but to be honest I had no further interest. When I saw the first movie, Fellowship if the Ring, I thought – “meh, it was alright.” I guess only because I had no idea of what to expect and never had an interest before. However, that “meh” soon changed and now I think the movies are awesome.  Especially after seeing all the production extras – all that was beyond amazing and made me really appreciate Fellowship more, and upon seeing the other two I went in with a completely different mindset. And since then the two Hobbit movies have been pretty awesome so far as well.

I guess the kind of things I like about movies are also sort of confined, generally speaking, to specific genres as well when you really think about movies with grand visual effects and loads of special effects. I’ll have to think about that for next time.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Tariss Demon

So, I did a shoot yesterday slightly different from anything I've done up until now.The thinking behind it was to see if doing a somewhat more sexy looking Demon photo shoot might garner a little more interest - seeing as how that's pretty much how things work on average in the rest of the media.

I got the inspiration from photographer Michael Edwards series Me In My Place, I stumbled upon it some time ago through an interview with the actresss Lake Bell. They're very simple shots, but they're effective in their own way and I figured, why not try something like that with a Demon?

Of course the second half of the idea was to not just do a full face piece as usual, but to do a custom full  head piece this time and see how that worked with this concept. One of the models/actresses I've worked with a lot over the last couple years, Julie Laforest, has done shoots kind of similar to this already (although as herself) so I figured she'd be the best to go with.

 And, you can pretty much see how it all turned out here...

The prosthetic was custom made for her, so it fit pretty well, although I've yet to really get the hang of doing full head pieces like this and the edges where a little thick, plus it wasn't the best copy of the piece I could've made - but I'm not rich and something this size takes almost 3 times the amount of foam latex I usually use that can produce several full face pieces, so it had to do.

I pre-painted it beforehand, so I really only have to blend it in around her eyes, mouth and neck. I figured this would be a quicker makeup since it was all pre-painted, but it still took at least an hour or more. Ah well, at least it worked and didn't rip wide open trying to slip it on over her head - which was tricky and took about 15-20 minutes of very careful work.

I'm sure eventually I'll get a comment about doing Demon porn eventually, and just to be clear - I don't think it'll ever happen, at least not from me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

10 Things I Love About Movies - Part Two.

Admittedly the first part on the list was a little on the simple side, I think I need to go into a little more detail on some of the other ones. And, as usual, these are MY opinions on what I like about movies, I'm not interested in a debate, so you can keep that to yourself. That all said, here we go...

2. Visuals (CG-FEST!)

This is one of those things that gets a lot of people up in arms and ranting. Seems like if you were to listen to the vocal majority or minority, whatever they are - they're the vocal ones anyway - movies with an excess of CG are apparently generally hated by the movie going audience at large. To that I say, "lighten the fuck up", big deal. It's the audience that's created this "monster" as far as I'm concerned, or at the very least, perpetuated it into it's current state.

The general audience is so jaded that little movies, ones with just a couple people sitting around talking, don't cut it all the time. They're lost in a sea of multi-million dollar studio pictures. That doesn't mean exactly that these little pictures are good anyway, they're just as capable of sucking as the big ones. Each have their own audience, but the big ones are the big ones for a reason. People eat that shit up like crazy and then bitch about the FX - whether they even understand them as being good or not, they just want to rant about how their low attention span brains were disappointed somehow.

This is where folks like Michael Bay come in. I think people love to hate him, yet his movies are always big money makers. Massive explosions, over the top CG visuals and just generally there's crap flying everywhere. If people really hated CG, his movies would tank - but they don't. Explain that one too me if you think I'm wrong.

Actually, I don't care if I'm right or wrong, because personally I love CG-Fests. I'm a visual person I guess, I love to have my eyeballs entertained. That doesn't mean just because it's got an abundance of CG that I'll automatically love it - I can't bring myself to watch Avatar because it just looks so lame and at this point, there's no point, my mind's already made it, so I'll hate it regardless. In any case, I'm not interesting in movies I don't like, I'm talking about why I like the ones I do.

I love CG, I used to think it was something I wanted to do, but it's such a pain in the ass that I've moved on. However, I still love watching that stuff. I think it's because CG can create stuff you just don't see in every day life, it pushes the limit of the director's imagination, beyond what special effects can do, into a world where you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want.

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are a good example here I think. I love those movies, I think Dead Man's Chest might be one of my favorite movies. I don't have an automatic thing for Pirate movies, so it's not just that. It's got a great cast - so that does help. The visuals though are amazing. Especially Davey Jones - that's a character that could never be really properly visualized with makeup. When I see it, I forget that it's not actually Bill Nighy onscreen, that's just a CG version of him with a octopus face. You can whine about how you didn't think it worked for you, but seriously, that's so insulting to the talent that created it. You do better if you think you know this shit so well.

It's probably one of the best representations of taking an actor and altering them so much that really only the eyes are similar, but if you're familiar with Nighy, you can see the performance is spot on. Yeah, it was motion capture, but that setup wasn't designed to capture the subtly of his performance. All his little ticks and mannerisms were 100% recreated by the animators. And it was fucking awesome. I don't care how you want to spin it, it was amazingly well done.

And yes, there's Gollum, he's well done, but nothing overly remarkable as far as I'm concerned. He's believable because the character is still overall normal looking. And while Andy Serkis is an incredibly physical actor and you can totally see his performance come though, Gollum still ranks mid-range on my top ten list of create CG characters, and that's only because it's not really pushing any boundaries - although the character would look pretty stupid as makeup I think.

See, reason I love this stuff, over the top visuals in general in movies, is because I've always done visual stuff myself. On paper, on computer, or sculpted - whatever, so part of what really draws me to movies with a big emphasis on CG visuals is because it's partially a source of inspiration, but also because it allows me shut my brain off from it's constant chatter. Movies with anything less, I find myself waiting for them to be over, not getting engrossed in them as much - unless there's something else awesome about them.

Now this is easy to say AFTER I've seen a movie, but I'm more or less looking at what draws me to the movie in the first place - so here's a good example. I just saw a trailer for the movie I, Frankenstein. One that I'm sure some people just groaning and moaning about already, but seriously - it looks FUCKING AWESOME! The trailer is nothing but over the top insane visuals, you got Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy, along with some other good actors, you got a new take on an old character (and actually a better one than we've previously seen for the most part), along with a bunch of other little things I can pick apart as being what draws me to thinking this movie is something I really want to see and I'm pretty confident I will love.

I'll probably use this as an example to define some of the other things I like about movies, however, it'll be awhile before I actually see it, so I can't really comment on that yet.

And again, this isn't to say that just because a movie automatically has CG in it that I'll love it, there's obviously something missing in the mix that makes those movies uninteresting to me.

Friday, January 10, 2014

10 Things I Love About Movies - Part One.

I did something like this last year, sort of around this time, 10 Things I Hate About Movies (or something like that) and I decided in the spirit of positivity and feel-goodery junk like that, I'm going to list 10 Things I Love About Movies. I think because it's not something I (or anyone else for that matter) really thinks about, we're more aware of what we don't want to see, don't want to watch, can't stand seeing in movies and what pisses us off about movies, than we are about what it is we actually like about them - basically,  what defines our taste in movies?

Some like before, there's no order, no set plan. I'm just calling it 10 things and hoping I can get that many.

1. Obvious of course, but Actors.
It's funny how we can gravitate towards certain actors and that in most cases they can do no wrong and every movie they're in we enjoy. At least that's the case for me, for instance, I'll watch anything with Thomas Jane in it, be it a comedy, horror, sc-fi, even a subtitled period romance with Tom Jane would be awesome. Why? Because he's fucking awesome.

Same for the likes of Karl Urban, who like Jane, seems to make decent choices in what they do. It's almost as if were I to actually know them, we'd probably like a lot of the same movies. And if I were in their position, I'd love to be in those type of movies, so yeah, this makes sense.

Then there's actors like Robert Downey Jr. who has done a pretty wide range of movie, not all awesome, but they're usually likeable (if you're a fan) simply because of his presence in them. There's a whole list of other actors and actresses whose very appearance in a movie makes it worth watching, but this would go on forever if I did that.

Then there are even movies that by all accounts suck ass, but because of the actors in them they've become movies that I enjoy. A really good example would be The Core - a terribly stupid premise with an unbelievably dopey plot, if you've never heard of it, check it out. The cast is pretty decent. Aaron Eckhart, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, Richard Jenkins, Bruce Greenwood, Hilary Swank - all decent, enjoyable to watch actors, especially Tucci when he plays a douchebag is usually fun to watch. Aside form the visuals, it's really the actors why I even bother with movies like this.

In closing, I will admit, on there is a massive list of other crap movies that I actually quite like because of the actors. They are usually the first thing that draws me to a movie, and this works both ways - if there's no names for me to gravitate to, the movie will usually be a letdown...Unless...more on that later.