FALL­ING SKIES: A FORE­RUN­NER IN DIG­I­TAL MAKE-UP FX

How ‘dmfx’ By Mastersfx Pi­o­neered The Art Of Tak­ing Pros­thet­ics To The Next Level For The Se­ries Fall­ing Skies

3D Artist - - THE ART OF DIGITAL MAKE-UP -

1 MAN IN SUIT

Ac­tor Doug Jones per­formed the role of the alien

Cochise (among sev­eral other char­ac­ters) on the TNT se­ries in a full or par­tial prac­ti­cal suit. By sea­son four of the show, ef­fects fa­cil­ity Mastersfx, headed up by pres­i­dent Todd Masters, im­ple­mented its own dig­i­tal en­hance­ment process, called DMFX, to mix that prac­ti­cal on-set work with tools that could add mi­nor eye darts, slight breath­ing and other nu­ances to the char­ac­ter, all via com­posit­ing, with 3D track­ing still a ma­jor part of con­trol­ling the right fa­cial fea­tures to de­form.

2 GO­ING DIG­I­TAL

“Rather than build com­plex shape mor­ph­ing or mus­cle/bone set­ups – stan­dard for a 3D ef­fects house – the rig used a make-up ef­fects ap­proach of dig­i­tal ca­ble pulls, dig­i­tal blad­der gags and waldo sys­tems,” says Jonathan Banta, cred­ited as dig­i­tal make-up su­per­vi­sor on the show, and shown here work­ing on Cochise. “We an­a­lysed Doug Jones’s move­ment and voice, us­ing those to drive sev­eral of the com­po­nents. We then trained com­pos­i­tors and make-up FX artists to ad­just the pho­nemes to match the di­a­logue and find Doug’s in­tent — ba­si­cally a com­posit­ing act­ing school.”

3 THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

“Un­der a few inches of foam rub­ber, Jones could only take the per­for­mance so far, with the ex­tra emo­tions made pos­si­ble with Mastersfx’s DMFX tech­niques. “It is of­ten the case that pro­duc­tions will re­place make-up ef­fects in post-pro­duc­tion,” notes Banta. “We, rather, were defin­ing and con­trol­ling the ap­proach from the on­set as a hy­brid of the two, ran by the make-up de­part­ment. The big­gest ad­van­tage was that it was per­fect ref­er­ence. It is shot by the shows’ di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy, and lit with their lights. There is also a per­for­mance au­thored in the mo­ment, not months later.”

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