Friday, October 24, 2014

How Do You Create a Two-Headed Woman?

Judging from conversations that I have had in class, I'm figuring people know about the new season of American Horror Story: Freak Show. This is the fourth season of the captivating and creepy show created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. This season is centered around a freak show in Jupiter, Florida in the early 1950's. Freak Show has a cast full of recognizable faces including Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, and Kathy Bates. Characters in this show include a bearded lady, an incredibly creepy clown, and a two-headed woman (played by Jessica Lange). Lang does not have two heads so to make that happen, the show has to use a bit of movie magic, aka special effects.

An animatronic head was made for this effect and it was secured to Lange by a harness. The heads are designed to match as best as possible . She doesn't always use the animatronic head though. Every time there is a shot of both heads there is a split-screen effect used. This process involves Paulson acting like each head with the other head not in use being dubbed in through a green screen type apparatus. This doubles the shooting time, but the effect is executed so well that you can believe that it is real while watching it. This split-screen effect is also taken into account by the costumers. The lines and patterns must be simple so that the split-screened takes can go together. This show does a great job of making you feel like everything is real, even when you really know that it isn't.

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