10 Groundbreaking Uses of Special Effects Makeup


1
'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' (2007)
The movie poster for 'Benjamin Button' shows Button at left as a very old man. In the film this was generated completely by computers. TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

Over the past couple of decades, increasingly sophisticated computer-generated special effects have become a staple of multiplex blockbusters. One of the most extensive uses of the technology was in 2007's "Benjamin Button," a magic realism story of a man who ages in reverse. Special effects supervisor Eric Barba and his team spent several years creating an elaborate motion-capture system that used 28 cameras and scores of sensors to track the subtle movements of actor Brad Pitt's face in 3-D space, so that they would be replicated in several animated elderly versions of him.

The effect was so convincing that for the first 52 minutes of the film, the Benjamin Button character's head that viewers see is entirely computer-generated, with "zero real Brad," as writer, filmmaker and visual-effects expert Lee Stranahan noted in a Huffington Post article. This CG head was used along with various "body actors" to portray Button in his elderly years [source: Seymour].

Author's Note: 10 Groundbreaking Uses of Special Effects Makeup

When I was a young reporter in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, I once had the chance to interview makeup and special-effects virtuoso Tom Savini. It was surprising to discover that the person who'd created the grotesque zombies from George Romero's "Dead" movies and Jason from "Friday the 13th" actually lived within walking distance of my apartment, in a simple row house in a working-class Italian neighborhood that he shared with his elderly father. For someone who dreamed up such grisly mayhem on the screen, Savini turned out to be a pleasant, soft-spoken guy who spoke reverently of other makeup and special-effects masters' work -- I recall that he was impressed, for example, with the animatronic apes in the 1984 film "Greystoke."

Related Articles

Sources

  • Blake, Michael F. "A Thousand Faces: Lon Chaney's Unique Artistry in Motion Pictures." Vestal Press. 1995. (Aug. 18, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=-PWyrLBacYsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=lon+chaney+biography&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Tw_yU83XNM2MyATX0IGYAQ&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=makeup&f=false
  • Burnette, Betty. "Introducing Mad Scientists." Rosen Publishing Group. 2006. (Aug. 18, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=07uLnIDZnT0C&pg=PA34&dq=chris+walas+%22:the+fly%22+makeup+goldblum&hl=en&sa=X&ei=aDnyU-ClE8PtoAS68YG4Cw&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=chris%20walas%20%22%3Athe%20fly%22%20makeup%20goldblum&f=false
  • Chase, David. "Cinema Makeup School Honors Jack Pierce With Gallery Dedication." Beyondthemarquee.com. May 31, 2013. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://beyondthemarquee.com/21355/
  • Chicago Tribune. "The Movie Reviews." Chicagotribune.com. Oct. 15, 1999. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-10-15/entertainment/9910200025_1_movie-reviews-star-film/6
  • Debreceni, Todd. "Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen: Making and Applying Prosthetics." Focal Press. 2013. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=BJja87lVbwQC&pg=PT501&dq=history+movie+makeup+effects&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xFHxU8P1D8SmyATK64HoBQ&ved=0CGAQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Daily Mail Reporter. "Behind-the-scenes on Planet of the Apes: How actors in full costume on sci-fi classic relaxed by smoking, drinking... and reading the Daily Mail!" Daily Mail. May 28, 2012. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2150936/Photos-reveal-Planet-Apes-actors-backstage-1967.html
  • Dicksmithmakup.com "The Exorcist: 1973." Dicksmithmakeup.com. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.dicksmithmake-up.com/dicks-work/dick%E2%80%99s-film-tv-credits-and-photos/the-exorcist.aspx
  • Ebert, Roger. "The Phantom of the Opera." Rogerebert.com. Dec. 19, 2004. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-phantom-of-the-opera-1925
  • Essman, Scott. "Jack Pierce: The Man Behind the Monsters." CreateSpace. 2000. (Aug. 17, 2014). http://books.google.com/books?id=TCwzDt4zorsC&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • Gourley, Bob. "Ben Chapman." Chaoscontrol.com. 2000. (Aug. 18, 2014) http://www.chaoscontrol.com/ben-chapman-interview-with-the-gillman/
  • Grow, Kory. "Dick Smith, 'Exorcist' and 'Godfather' Makeup Artist, Dead at 92." Rolling Stone. July 31, 2014. (Aug. 18, 2014) http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/dick-smith-exorcist-and-godfather-makeup-artist-dead-at-92-20140731#ixzz3AlE576Ln
  • Hechinger, Paul. "Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Boris Karloff." Bbcamerica.com. Oct. 31, 2011. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2011/10/five-things-you-might-not-have-known-about-boris-karloff/
  • Hollywood.com Staff. "The Most Amazing Makeup Transformations." Hollywood.com. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.hollywood.com/photos/misc/42987210/the-most-amazing-makeup-transformations#83749/0
  • Independent. "The Exorcist uncut: Secrets of the scariest movie ever made." Independent.co.uk. Oct. 15, 2010. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/the-exorcist-uncut-secrets-of-the-scariest-movie-ever-made-2106644.html
  • Internet Movie Database. "Creature from the Black Lagoon." Imdb.com. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046876/combined
  • Internet Movie Database. "Tom Savini Biography." Imdb.com. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0767741/bio
  • Johnson, John. "Cheap Tricks and Class Acts: Special Effects, Makeup, and Stunts from the Films of the Fantastic Fifties." McFarland and Company. 1996. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=NHzeZZOUD6QC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Miller, Ron. "Special Effects: An Introduction to Movie Magic." Twenty-First Century Books. 2006. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=JTIMIDNIVg8C&pg=PA24&dq=movie+makeup+special+effects&hl=en&sa=X&ei=aFDxU5LyNcKWyASUxYKYBQ&ved=0CEEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=movie%20makeup%20special%20effects&f=false
  • Oscars.org. "Makeup and Hairstyling." Oscars.org. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.oscars.org/events-exhibitions/events/2014/01/makeup.html
  • Pfeiffer, Lee. "Planet of the Apes." Brittanica.com. May 8, 2014. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/678937/Planet-of-the-Apes
  • Russo ,Joe; Landsman, Larry; and Gross, Edward. "Planet of the Apes Revisited: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Classic Science Fiction Saga." Thomas Dunne Books. 2001. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://books.google.com/books/about/Planet_of_the_Apes_Revisited.html?id=SnSqvH6RRSoC&q=makeup#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Seymour, Mike. "The Curious Case of Aging Visual Effects." Fxguide.com. Jan. 1, 2009. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.fxguide.com/featured/the_curious_case_of_aging_visual_effects/
  • Singer, Matt. "Putty in Their Hands: Ten Old, Old Movie Makeup Jobs That Hold Up, Part I." Ifc.com. Oct. 28, 2008. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.ifc.com/fix/2008/10/puddy-in-their-hands-ten-old-m
  • Stan Winston School of Character Arts. "TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY - Sarah's Nightmare FX & T-1000 Blade Arm Kill." Stanwinstonschool.com. Jan. 29, 2013. (Aug. 17, 2014) https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/sarah-connor-terminator-2-t-1000-special-effects#
  • Steiger, Brad. "The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings." Visible Ink Press. 2012. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=_nDLvY21dg0C&pg=PA6&dq=%22Rick+Baker%22+%22American+werewolf%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ljHyU8HoK9K1yASCqICYDw&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22Rick%20Baker%22%20%22American%20werewolf%22&f=false
  • Stranahan, Lee. "WATCH: The Amazing (Oscar Nominated) Effects Of Benjamin Button." Huffington Post. Jan. 18, 2009. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-stranahan/watch-the-amazing-effects_b_158834.html
  • Syndell, Laura. "Building The Curious Faces Of 'Benjamin Button.'" Npr.org. Feb. 17, 2009. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100668766
  • Turner Classic Movies. "Jack Pierce." Tcm.com. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/152336%7C76063/Jack-P-Pierce/
  • Turner Classic Movies. "The Exorcist." Tcm.com. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/520%7C0/The-Exorcist.html
  • Turner Classic Movies. "The Phantom of the Opera." Tcm.com. (Aug. 18, 2014) http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/36162%7C0/The-Phantom-of-the-Opera.html
  • TV Guide. "Tom Savini." Tvguide.com. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/tom-savini/bio/177202
  • Welsh, Chris. "Terminator 2' crew members reveal how they created masterful special effects before CGI took over." Theverge.com. Nov. 20, 2012. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://www.theverge.com/2012/11/20/3672696/terminator-2-special-effects-behind-the-scenes
  • Wilshin, Mark. "A Cinematic History of Horror." Heinemann-Raintree. 2005. (Aug. 17, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=Kd1auBXzjigC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Yardley, William. "Dick Smith, Oscar-Winning Makeup Artist, Dies at 92." The New York Times. Aug. 1, 2014. (Aug. 18, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/01/movies/dick-smith-dies-at-92-makeup-artist-of-vast-reach.html?_r=0

UP NEXT

VR Horror Movies: A New Way to Be Scared Out of Your Mind

VR Horror Movies: A New Way to Be Scared Out of Your Mind

Virtual reality horror movies could be some of the scariest entertainment we humans have ever thought of. Learn more at HowStuffWorks Now.


More to Explore