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Battles With Bits of Rubber

This podcast is a joint venture with Stuart Bray and Todd Debreceni. It's all about the making of stuff for makeup effects and prosthetics. Todd is author of 'Special Makeup Effects For Stage And Screen', what many consider to be the modern makeup FX bible. Stuart Bray is a working makeup FX artist with many years experienc. Credits include 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Dr Who' and more recently 'Game of Thrones'. If you have any FX questions you would like to see made into a featured blog post, then get in touch: stuartandtodd@gmail.com
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Now displaying: 2021
Dec 26, 2021
 
What does digital sculpting have to do with battling with bits of rubber?
 
Speaking in one of the VFX classrooms, a huge space with rows of monitors and Wacom Cintiqs, we gathered as a group to discuss training to work in film and TV.
 
We looked particularly at the pipeline and workflow of VFX and how that has changed over the years with regards to practical work and why confidence matters and how it can be generated.
 
One aspect of confidence is to know how and when to exercise what is your responsibility when you may feel like it is someone else's job. What can you do practically to accumulate confidence and where does that come from? What are the stepping stones?
 
 
Many makeup schools do not know how or teach how practical effects may work with VFX. There isn't an extensive history yet of that combination, so fewer resources and gurus to call upon. If you want to make a nose or a wig, there already exists a long history of practitioners and techniques one can call upon to get that information. Some places are teaching this such as Bolton, Falmouth & the University of Wolverhampton (https://www.instagram.com/digital_prosthetics/?hl=en).
 
Now if you want to take a head scan, clean it up and correct it, make cores so you can print out sections to be remoulded or sculpted on, there are ways it can be done but it is new enough that there isn't a standardised method easily accessed by everyone.
 
It's a new thing so there isn't an extensive range of ways to do it or a plethora of experienced practitioners willing to share what may be for them hard-won knowledge or a new process they may have pioneered themselves recently. 
 
VFX and practical were once very separate disciplines but the increased use of digital processes in the practical world (photography, scanning, machining, 3D printing and sculpting in ZBrush) are very much part of the VFX world and crossover is more common. A shared language will assist in departments blending their expertise rather than dividing them. 
 
The VFX may be less willing to share their processes compared with practical, but this may be in part because pipelines and workflows are so unique that one may not align with another even though they are both under the umbrella term of VFX. 
 
Larger commercial pipelines are often customised, so they will approach a process in a specific way that may not be the same way as another company doing the same kind of work. These make incredible efficiencies within that unit of work, and changing pipelines isn't always compatible. 
 
The lowering cost of scanners will mean increased availability of information and tutorials. They will become commonplace and so being able to work with them will become important. 
 
 We imagine that in no time ZBrush will be even more ingrained in the educational workflow of fx programs teaching both practical and digital fx.  It will be the standard, no longer any differentiation as two disciplines; it will all be part of fx training and execution.
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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.
Dec 18, 2021

Our conversation recently with Jake Garber at The Prosthetics Event in Coventry was, we think, a very important chat worth listening to for anyone who is trying, or thinking about trying to get a foot in the door into the (oftentimes) wonderful and exciting world of movie and television makeup.

Even for peeps already working in the industry, Jake’s extensive level of expertise and experience in a special and makeup effects career has seen him in many roles from straight beauty makeup and workshop lab work, as well as supervising workshops and sets, key makeup artist as well as being a personal artist to talent such as Samuel L. Jackson.

His TV credits include over 100 episodes of The Walking Dead, The Orville and Westworld. Movies include Avengers: Endgame, Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Inglorious Basterds, and Kill Bill 1&2. That broad range of experience was wonderfully displayed at the Prosthetics Event to a packed education room.

We asked him about his work and how he broke into the industry, and then focussed on the specific skills and areas of attention someone looking to get into the field should be aware of. It was a fantastic discussion, and Jake dropped gold nuggets everywhere with his revealing and incredibly useful talk.

It’s important to learn to create small in the beginning; a realistic nose has no fanfare, no pazzazz, but if you know, you know. It’s not about calling attention to the work, it’s being able to fool the viewer into believing it’s real by not calling attention to it.

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on the website.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Nov 24, 2021

Figurative sculptor Amelia Rowcroft lives in the lovely Sussex town of Lewes on the South East Coast of England, which dates back to 961AD.

She was kind enough to invite us into her studio in a building that once housed a brewery in the 1600s, and that’s where we recorded this episode of BWBoR.

Amelia has been sculpting practically, working in clay for over 20 years, creating primarily fine art portraits and figurative sculptures, though she has also worked within the film industry, and for the world’s leading wax figure museums including Madame Tussaud’s, and we talked about it all.

She studied at Central St Martins, and the Florence Academy in Florence, Italy, and interestingly enough, was also a student at Wimbledon School of Art where Stuart attended, though a few years behind him.

As fate would have it, another of our upcoming podcast guest artists, ZBrush Master Madeleine Scott Spencer, also studied at the Florence Academy and remembers Amelia, but we’ll save that for later.

We chatted for a good hour and a half and covered a variety of sculpture-related topics, such as why isn’t there a Museum of Crap Renaissance Sculpture so we can see the failures of the Masters – because there had to be some - and creating a likeness sculpture vs. creating a caricature of a subject. We also chatted about sculpting digitally vs. pushing actual clay around.

Amelia was kind enough – incredibly generous is more like it – to allow us to explore her online sculpture course, and it is jaw-dropping in content and ‘lightbulb’ moments.

We urge you to at least look at the sample video lessons on Amelia’s website www.sculptingmasterclass.com/collections. We suspect you’ll want to enrol to take advantage of the instruction offered by this incredible sculptor.

Whether you sculpt practically or digitally, this information is invaluable and transferable between mediums.

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Nov 20, 2021

Click Here For Blog Post Of This Episode

Paul Savage is a returning guest on the show. We caught up with him at the Prosthetics Event in Coventry. Merging medical knowledge with movie makeup, he aims to bring more realism to training scenarios.  Raising the bar in simulation can help to save actual lives.

It is quite often that makeup students will work with a local emergency service and offer up their skills to make up casualties for training first responders and combat medics.

As makeup artists, we often let the dramatic effect take the reins, however, it is easy to inadvertently misdirect a clinical field assessment with incorrectly applied makeup that has been applied for dramatic effect rather than clinical accuracy.

It is important to use primary references of genuine trauma rather than copying trauma makeup that isn't necessarily accurate. By copying even good makeup, we can also reproduce their errors unintentionally.

We talk about the merits of using the right material, the right amount of blood and setting the scene. Even though it is a simulation, seasoned first responders will take their cues from what they see rather than what they have been told. So it better look right!

Regarding the mastectomy makeup mentioned in the episode, it was for the ITV Drama 'The Walk' (2005). The makeup designer was Caroline Noble and made for Millennium FX. It was applied on location by Rob Trenton.

Click Here For Blog Post Of This Episode

 

Oct 18, 2021

This episode is in two parts. The first part is the generally good news of the increase in film industry activity which sees many people run off their feet with work. After a year of lockdowns and closed up shops, this is good news indeed.

Film and TV productions are picking up because of the build-up of work owing to shelved ideas, and owing to the massive amount of free time folks have had to consume box sets and start to want the next season.

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Incidentally, it was Gorezone #9 which had the awesome Evil Dead 2 stuff I mentioned.

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Breaking pieces down (unnecessarily)
 
We also discuss the breaking down of pieces when moving from the sculpting to the moulding stage. Covered at length in a piece we did a while back (link below), it was worth a good chat about why this may even be necessary.
  • Why do we break pieces down at all?
  • No two makeups break down the same.
  • Usually in thinnest area of sculpt.
  • http://www.learnmakeupeffects.com/floating-pieces/
  • Extra work and time/materials/cost involved
  • Design and purpose of makeup decides what needs to be broken down and why.
  • Collapsible cores vs flaring out/overlapping pieces.
For amazing mould work (plus great craft generally), I highly recommend these two excellent artists:

Check out the podcast website https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com

 

Jul 20, 2021

We covered cutting edges in episode #61 but this one is specifically about cutting edges on flat moulds.

Cutting edges on appliance moulds do the work of separating the fine appliance edge from the flashing and excess, allowing the mould to close properly and achieve the feather thin edge you have sculpted.

The exact width of the distance between the cutting edge and the sculpted edge varies between artists and techniques, preferences and materials.

I have seen many sculpts where folk have had a massive distance between the cutting edge and the sculpt, and this is what prompted this episode.

The book I was reading which mentioned 'Stereo Type' with regards to printing was The Village Carpenter: The Classic Memoir of the Life of a Victorian Craftsman by Walter Rose, published originally in 1937. Check out the Stereotype process on the Wikipedia page.

See what books are freely available at Project Gutenberg https://www.gutenberg.org/.

Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Jun 21, 2021

In episode #74 we talk about running lots of foam latex and overcoming the things that can go wrong with foam latex. Despite silicone being the material most go to first, it is a very real material that needs to be kept in mind for certain projects.

We also chat about how 3D scanning and printing has had a tangible benefit on some jobs we had this year, and how using this technology has enabled things that would not have otherwise been possible.

Many thanks for listening!

-Stuart & Todd

Email the show on stuartandtodd@gmail.com

Leave us a voice message straight from our website.

 

Feb 20, 2021

Rod Maxwell is a bit of a Renaissance man, and the more we talked the more you can see how wearing many hats has informed his approach. Of late, Rod has become known for his fusion of digital techniques with practical outcomes.

Looking at his Instagram, you can see trailblazing work with 3D printed moulds, scanning lifecasts and moulds and using that data to create things impossible to do any other way. Overlaying lifecasts done years apart to animate the changes in features displaying the effects of aging? Yes please!

Rod created a short movie, The Wishing Well, in which he created and wore 26 makeups to play the various characters...all self applied. Check it out on Amazon Prime and see this behind the scenes video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYJmW3KYtTw

He was on Syfy's Face Off season 3, which he took as an opportunity to take full advantage of the opportunity to make something with an amazing facility at his disposal.

He created an app to help artists improve their colour theory skills, called Flesh Master. There is also a corresponding Skin Illustrator 'Rescue On Set' palette to then use those techniques to correct appliance colours to better match skin.

Taking it all in, it's a great insight into the work that goes into acquiring the skills and experience which make an accomplished person. We think you'll get a kick out of this one.

Check out Rods Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rodmaxwell/

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Feb 10, 2021

Adam has become well known for his miniature and smaller-scale work which has both great expression as well as high levels of detail, and even developed a material which allowed such tight detail for miniatures called Cx5.

The man has done a lot of things and has worked many jobs - let's be clear his feet are on the ground and he knows what hard work is. 

He also has cultivated a very positive and effective mindset which is infectious and inspiring to behold and makes you want to try harder as you see that he walks the walk himself.

There is a great body of work to be seen online, so check out his Instagram, (www.instagram.com/adambeanecreates) so you see what we are talking about. Adam also teaches so check out his website www.adambeane.com and his Patreon at www.patreon.com/AdamBeaneCreates. It's new at the time of writing, so go give the man a hand and check him out.

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Links

The study Adam mentions (by Aude Oliva, Antonio Torralba & Philippe. G. Schyns) with the hybrid images is worth checking out here:
https://studylib.net/doc/14424564/hybrid-images-aude-oliva-antonio-torralba-philippe.-g.-sc...

Adam mentions Sight-Size as a technique in drawing, which is an arrangement of the artist, subject and artwork that allows the artist to see their subject and artwork one-to-one. See more on this here: https://www.sightsize.com/

Also, Persistence Of Vision is mentioned:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_of_vision

Adam mentions Generative Adversarial Network, which I must confess I had not heard of before. Check it out here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_adversarial_network

Also seeing this example, an automatic realistic person generator:
https://www.thispersondoesnotexist.com/

We mentioned the awesome creature designer and artist Carlos Huante, and his stuff is well worth checking out:
http://www.carlos-huante-monstruo.com/

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Jan 8, 2021

Daniel was the first professional prosthetic professional to look at my portfolio. That stuff sticks with you.

That was back in 1994, and there was still a lot of Frankenstein stuff kicking about in the workshop from the previous year. I learned a lot being in that workshop, and got to see a makeup test on Ian McKellan for Richard III in my time there.

Daniel has recently been praised for his work as makeup and hair designer on The Queens Gambit (Netflix) and Chernobyl (HBO). He has an extensive range of credits spanning 37 years, including Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, Band Of Brothers, Frankenstein (Academy Award nominee) Empire Of The Sun, Cloud Atlas, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Enemy Mine.

In this conversation, we talked about how often simple techniques and good paintwork can do so much and using appliances wisely. It is very easy for an artist to fall in love with the processes and things they have learned, and to decide to inflict themselves as extensively as possible on anything they do. Instead, the aim is to see the full picture and work with the raw material of the performer and make only the correct changes for the character.

Daniel also is a director at his temporary Tattoo company, TattooedNow! which he runs with Serbian artists Igor Strangliczky and Nikola Prijic.

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

 

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