Blurring the lines between make-up and CGI

Some of the best effects of recent times have come about through the collaboration between make-up artists and CGI technicians. Terminator Salvation and Benjamin Button are two recent examples of films that have recently blurred the lines between both art forms.

By working together as a team, the CGI and make-up team are usually able to create something unique that can entertain the audience and convince them that something fake and improbable is real and fantastic.

When the make-up artists from Make-up Effects Group supervised the special make-up effects and hero creature suit for the film Man Thing, they were also surprised with how well they worked with the CGI team.

Paul Katte, one of the owners of Make-up Effects Group, says that initially, the director’s approach was to go for an all out CG character.

However, due to budget and time constraints, he decided to film the creature in camera and add CGI effects over the top of it.

The Man Thing character was a full body creature suit created over the body and head cast of the performer. A full body sculpture was created and then a foam latex creature suit was fabricated from that. The creature’s arms and hands were fully animatronic and featured full articulation for every digit.

These were operated via radio control by off camera puppeteers. The creature’s head sat on top of the performer's head via a skullcap, so the actor was looking through the neck of the suit to navigate the swamp set that he inhabited. He also wore foot high creature feet, which provided him with even more height.

"Even though the original plan was to create Man Thing via CG, we felt they could easily create a fully cosmetic Hero Creature suit capable of withstanding the cameras scrutiny," says Katte.

"The only CG enhancement were fireflies, which enhanced the eyes created via LEDs in the creature's head, as well as digital tentacles that joined The Man Thing suit to the swamp environment behind. In the end, our suit was used for 100% of Man Thing’s screen time."

To find out more examples of stories about CGI and make-up effects being used together in unison, read the next issue of IF FX inside the September issue of INSIDEFILM.