Friday, March 7, 2014

Morph Effects Part II: The Old Fashioned Way

So my last post before Spring Break. What to talk about?

Earlier this semester I talked about some of the morphing effects that were done in Grimm. While today we use computer animation along with make up to convey the various character and creature morphs, filmmakers had to rely on other methods. Here are some of the most well know practical effect transformations.

1) The Werewolf Transformation (An American Werewolf in London) (1981)
Of the transformation morphs that I am able recollect and this point, this was one of the more difficult ones. Through a series of quick cuts, Academy Award winning Special Fx artist Rick Baker has new bits of make up applied to in each cut. Also body casts were made of the creature and had to be applied to actor David Naughton. The whole process to approximately 10 hours to shoot only a few second worth of footage.

2) The Wolfman (1941)

This transformation in the 1941 version of The Wolfman works effectively by using a combination of its editing and subtle changes in make up. First the filmmaker's apply little bits of Lon Chaney Jr.'s make up. Immediately afterwards the editors perform a soft cross dissolve to the next frames where the make up artist apply the next layer of werewolf make up. This process continues until we have a completed werewolf as seen in this clip.

3) Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde (1931 version)

This particular effect for years was one of Hollywood's most guarded secrets, up  until the director's death. This transformation I think is by far one of the most interesting in it's application. When actor Fredrick March transformed into his Hyde persona, they switched the light in the scene to a red one. The actor already would have his make up on for his Hyde character but in regular light it could not be seen. When the light was switched to a red one slowly over time to reveal the actor's make up.

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