June 23, 2009, 7:24 a.m. CST
And a big yes to a series of articles on practical FX artists. All we hear about these days is CG animators.
June 23, 2009, 7:27 a.m. CST
It's not fair that a lucky fucking hack like him gets into these events and walks around like he has some right to be there. Fuck off back to television and take your shaky-cam and ADD editing with you. For crying out loud. I cannot wait for the day everyone realises what a talentless idiot that bloke is.
June 23, 2009, 7:28 a.m. CST
As usual and great piece with some top Dick jokes :)
June 23, 2009, 7:38 a.m. CST
A series of articles on practical effects would be awesome!
June 23, 2009, 7:48 a.m. CST
by Duncan Irons
Thanks for sharing...
June 23, 2009, 7:49 a.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
June 23, 2009, 7:58 a.m. CST
Once again I am hugely jealous. You're a better man than me for not making a dick joke though
June 23, 2009, 8:01 a.m. CST
effects targeted articles Quint. Empire online has just ran a good one on stop motion. Check it out http://www.empireonline.com/features/evolution-of-stop-motion/
June 23, 2009, 8:08 a.m. CST
by Boba Fat
Do them now!!!
June 23, 2009, 8:24 a.m. CST
What's Rob Bottin up to these days?
June 23, 2009, 8:31 a.m. CST
Delanghaarige---good call on Botten
June 23, 2009, 8:33 a.m. CST
by Shut the Fuck up Donny
It made me wish I had tried to make more effort to pursue a job in special effects in my youth. <p> I'll admit I was completely ignorant to the fact that Kevin Haney did the special effects for Basket Case...Hilarious.
June 23, 2009, 8:51 a.m. CST
by THE TRUE PINBACK
First off...congratulations on getting to attend this event...I am VERRRRRY jealous of you, you lucky bastard!!! And great article! NOw...PLEEEEEEZ do your series of pices on practical effects. I'm an affirmed spfx junkie and I would eat them up! Here's another idea for you to chew on...I'm a big fan of CINEFEX magazine-have 'em all-and on very rare occasions they have gone back to do retrospective articles on films that they didn'tr cover, like STAR WARS and 2001. But htere are quite a few that they haven't covered that deserve a look back. A look bact at the FX work of such films as the first two SUPERMAN films, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, FLASH GORDON and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL would be so friggin' cool! These are among some films that didn't get extensive FX coverage, but really deserve it. Something to think about anyway...thanks again fort the excellent coverage...and keep up the GREAT work!!! You keep the geek commmunity energized!
June 23, 2009, 8:52 a.m. CST
Especially enjoyed the laugh about Stan Winston's talent for self-promotion. I hope that Hollywood always has room for practical effects. Sadly, seeing where Benjamin Button took digital makeup, and where Avatar will likely take it a step further, I fear the days of latex and spirit gum are gradually drawing to a close.
June 23, 2009, 8:54 a.m. CST
Jealous much? Seems to me that J.J. is a geek who made good. You and I may not care for his style, but many others do--and more power to him. From the tone of Quint's article, J.J. seems like great guy, and a bonafide geek. I wish him continued success.
June 23, 2009, 9:42 a.m. CST
I was one of those middle school kids who knew the difference between Bottin and Baker, Fullerton and Reardon, and the wide gap between Savini and Smith... I have tons of super 8 films with maquette's, makeup effects, gore, from back then. It's good to hear that these people (for the most part) are still recognized and celebrated. I can't believe Abrams had an Exorcist tongue... how did that happen?
June 23, 2009, 9:52 a.m. CST
June 23, 2009, 9:52 a.m. CST
June 23, 2009, 10:10 a.m. CST
It's fun to read about the "behind-the-scenes" guys that create the real magic in the movies. <p> Oh, and yes to more articles detailing practical effects work.
June 23, 2009, 10:12 a.m. CST
No one actually likes this style, everyone pisses and moans about ADD editing and shaky-cam. Abrams isn't a geek who made good, Abrams is a geek who made lots of money. In Hollywood that equals talent. Mi:3 and Star Trek were terrible bits of film-making. I truly believe the editing is an attempt to cover up a film-maker who hasn't shot anything which cuts together in a meaningful or sensible way. If he makes a competent, vaguely cinematic film at some point, then all credit to him. But it pisses me off to see him swan around Hollywood like he's God'd gift when he's done nothing to justify being there, except make lots of money. Especially in the esteemed company of some genuine gifted, creative people.
June 23, 2009, 10:24 a.m. CST
June 23, 2009, 10:35 a.m. CST
In the article the press lady told you not to speak with or photograph Dick Smith, except when he's by his bust. But then you take a picture of him when he's talking to JJ Abrams. Sneaky!
June 23, 2009, 10:39 a.m. CST
But it was worth the time. Great article, felt like being there.
June 23, 2009, 10:52 a.m. CST
by Talkbacker with no name
banded about at all when talking about effects and make up. Man, just look at what he has done as stan winston's right hand man over the years - creature effects coordinator for aliens and the first predator, makeup designer for penguin in batman returns all the way up to today where he is physical suit effects supervisor for Iron Man. I can't think of a better person to join the ranks of Baker and Smith in the near future.
June 23, 2009, 11:02 a.m. CST
by Talkbacker with no name
I'd like to see something on Shame and the people he works with post stan winston. I remember you ran a piece when the great man died where they talked about starting a new company. I for one would love to know how that is going now.
June 23, 2009, 11:03 a.m. CST
by Talkbacker with no name
I of course mean Shane :)
June 23, 2009, 11:12 a.m. CST
June 23, 2009, 11:25 a.m. CST
... great job... Surprised Savini wasn't there?
June 23, 2009, 11:28 a.m. CST
by half vader
for being such a DICK.
June 23, 2009, 11:34 a.m. CST
by half vader
Oh no it didn't. Thanks Quint. I emailed the academy about whether they'd ever post a transciption or a video or podcast, but no reply. I'm a monster (haw!) fan of makeup effects, and as I was unable to attend (being on the other side of the world I tried but couldn't make it), this post made my day. <p> Er, your camera didn't happen to have a video mode did it? ;)
June 23, 2009, 11:36 a.m. CST
by half vader
(while we're mentioning great oldschool guys) Can't see, group pic too small..
June 23, 2009, 11:43 a.m. CST
by half vader
? Hmm. No-one's posting.
June 23, 2009, 11:45 a.m. CST
I didn't get to read all the posts here, but does anybody else remember Dick Smith's "How to Make a Monster" make-up FX softcover magazine that came out in the 6os? I thought it was amazing. My favorite was the "Oatmeal Face" or the "Weird-Oh" with the ping pong eyes.
June 23, 2009, 11:54 a.m. CST
I didn't know much about Dick Smith before, and I'm ashamed to say it. I'm glad you have this article up. It reminds me of the good old days when I used to learn so much from AICN.
June 23, 2009, 11:58 a.m. CST
Thanks for that. Would love to read more like it.
June 23, 2009, 12:01 p.m. CST
One highlight was seeing John Landis stroll up my aisle (I've seen him at so many events; one of these days I should just introduce myself), and him commenting to someone that so many folks in the audience had worked on his films. He joked that he wanted to shout, "One hour lunch." The event was fantastic. Rick Baker was so humbled and gracious. My one complaint is that some of the film clips went on a little too long. (I mean we've all seen The Exorcist a million times, right?) And it would've been nice for more comments from Dick Smith. But all in all it was a fantastic evening. Even my wife who doesn't know anything about make up fx was very impressed.
June 23, 2009, 12:03 p.m. CST
Man when the great Dick's involved this innuendo thing writes itself.<p> Quint, well done old chap.<p> I also second, third, or fourth the call for a series of AICN articles on Special Effects, flagging up particular innovations and FX heavy movies from the last few decades - I'd go as far as to nominate you, Quint, to produce them. What do you say? Tempted?
Pinback mentioned BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and it's flicks like that and SWORD & THE SORCERER, and others that obviously didn't have much of a budget to work with, but thanks to the ingenuity of the Dick Smith's of this world they managed to turn out some really cool and effective FX for our entertainment.
June 23, 2009, 12:15 p.m. CST
Jeez, that guy looks like Salieri from Amadeus, his skin, his wrinkles, etc. To further read that Smith used a mold of his own head for F. Murray Abraham to use completed the circle. Great article, Quint. Would've been cool if there'd been something on the great work Smith did on TAXI DRIVER, De Niro's Mohawk (not real), the mob guy's hand blown off, etc., but I guess Smith has had such as amazingly expansive career, you just can't cover everything.
June 23, 2009, 12:16 p.m. CST
that giant Dick Smith head is tripping me out.<br><br> ..it's amazing, Kazuhiro Tsuji did a sweet job, whoever he is.
June 23, 2009, 12:26 p.m. CST
a school production of Dracula in the bustling city of Greenville, Michigan. He was a very intelligent and nice guy, and it didn't surprise me one bit that he succeeded so well with Stan Winston. He worked on The Terminator also.
June 23, 2009, 12:27 p.m. CST
it IS scary. So much better than the wax museum stuff.
June 23, 2009, 12:35 p.m. CST
Love the idea of seeing articles on practical effects! God bless make up artists and Dick Smith! Fuck CGI in the ass with an AIDS covered cock covered in slime!
June 23, 2009, 12:56 p.m. CST
Once you've been fucked with an "AIDS covered cock" just how necessary exactly that it also be "covered in slime." Kinda anti-climactic and superfluous at that point, no?
June 23, 2009, 12:57 p.m. CST
Well done buddy.
June 23, 2009, 1:02 p.m. CST
Long read, but well worth it.
June 23, 2009, 2:28 p.m. CST
Seems like a fascinating and sweet man. Great article, Quint, thanks!
June 23, 2009, 2:41 p.m. CST
I was trying to add in something Dick Smith-y.
June 23, 2009, 3:08 p.m. CST
But, I must ask - what are you, twelve? You silently giggled when you heard the word "Dick"? That's pathetic.
June 23, 2009, 3:14 p.m. CST
I dabble in Practical and CGI. I'm a big fan of Smith and Baker.<P> The want to be a creature creator started for me, after seeing the making of Thriller. I started trying to do it myself shortly after I started watched Movie Magic episodes on the Discovery Channel, back in the early 90's. <P> It's never too late to pick the clay up Quint. It's alot of fun. You should try it, just as a hobby, if your really into it you'll never want to stop toiling away. Heres some places on the Internet for tutorials and resources. <P>Theres monstermakers.com, sculpture.net, silicone-inc.com, factor2.com smooth-on.com thehma.net, theeffectslab.com, <P>And lastly pixologic.com- If you ever care to toy around with zbrush. Which I recommended for your christmas wish list last year. You really don't like CGI. I get that, but zbrush is being used for practical applications now, and it's a great pre'vis tool. Nevermind what Rapid Prototyping offers. Stan Winston Studios made the Crystal Skull with it, and parts of Iron Man I think. Caroline used it to make all those exchangable faces.. <P> Digital is not evil, it's a tool just like clays, waxes, latex and silicones. At any rate those are great sites to learn the craft and acquire some of the tools. I love special FX, all kinds. It Practical or not it still requires an artist or a team of artists with an imagination to make it look real.
June 23, 2009, 3:15 p.m. CST
June 23, 2009, 3:19 p.m. CST
that it's time to retire from the ALIEN suit. I like my aliens super skinny and 7+ ft
June 23, 2009, 3:20 p.m. CST
Like for a DVD extra or something? If not, that's a shame. Would've been perfect for The Exorcist Blu-ray.
June 23, 2009, 3:40 p.m. CST
Good to know there is still some real love for movies out there, even if it's hard to find on the internet.
June 23, 2009, 3:44 p.m. CST
baker is a paedo
June 23, 2009, 4 p.m. CST
Thanks Quint. This piece is up there with the tribute AICN did when Stan Winston passed away. In a CGI dominated industry it's great to see you guys flying the flag for practical make-up FX work. I can't wait to read your future pieces on this. Rob Bottin? There's no way he'd have been there with Rick Baker. It's a damn shame that Steve Johnson wasn't there as he's done some incredible work. He seems to have vanished from the industry. Maybe you can track him down Quint...
June 23, 2009, 4:32 p.m. CST
Great article, and I would also like to add my vote for a series of articles on practical effects. And now I want to see if I can find my old copies of Starlog/Fangoria/Cinemagic.
June 23, 2009, 4:37 p.m. CST
I don't hate CG at all. What I hate is the over-use of it and how that seems to limit most filmmakers blinded by the ability put anything they want on screen. In a weird way their hands are tied even tighter when they have the ability to realize anything they want. I have a lot of respect for CG artists and their own artistry, but computer effects rarely capture that lightning in a bottle magic that is gotten when these brilliant minds cobble together random things and build the illusion of a living, breathing creature. It's like the Apollo 13 astronauts taking random odds and ends to fix their fucking space ship. Just mindblowing to me.
June 23, 2009, 4:55 p.m. CST
June 23, 2009, 6:51 p.m. CST
I almost felt like I was there. Thanks for the excellent reporting and fun photos (just love Rick Baker). So nice to see Mr. Smith getting more recognition. The man deserves every bit of it.
June 23, 2009, 8:24 p.m. CST
That was great Quint, simply great.
June 23, 2009, 8:39 p.m. CST
You should definitely do those articles about effects. I don't know about most of this stuff and it's very informative. :D
June 23, 2009, 11:46 p.m. CST
by half vader
Alien - You probably don't realise (no offence intended) that the look of Benjamin Button's cg makeup was defined by the two gentlemen above - Rick Baker and Kazu Tsuji - in a number of incredible practical life-sized maquettes/silicon heads that were subsequently scanned to do the digital versions and also used as lighting reference. <p> Also, Button does not really infringe on practical makeup FX at all in my opinion. Rick Baker has always said, and Greg Cannom who did Button's practical makeup would probably also tell you (if I'm not being too presumptuous) that makeup is an ADDITIVE process. You build up detail, and add to what's there. You can't be gouging bits out of an actor's face and body! And building the face or body up so you can then take away is often obvious enough to defeat the point (although little big man is a brilliant example of the best way to achieve it through practical means). Ironically it's Smith and Baker's genius in overcoming this intrinsic limitation that sets them apart. But there's Baker's story about Tim Roth on Burton's Planet of the Apes that illustrates the conundrum very neatly. <p> CG allows you to do subtractive/reductive effects in a more straightforward manner, without having to allow for the effect elsewhere on the actor's face or body. Benjamin button is an extremely old character where the fatty deposits and effects of ageing have shrunk the facial features back to the bone. As this shrinking/thin effect can't be done the same way practically, I don't think it's fair to say BB's cg/digital makeup takes away from practical makeup in that case. <p> And while Smith and Baker have come up with ingenious ways to overcome the "nose" problem with designs like the blurred guy above, the faceless chick, the aforementioned apes and the Grinch, I don't think there's anything wrong with Davy Jones and Voldemort using cg to eliminate the need to allow for the effect by building up other areas. Same with half robot Terminator heads and variations like the hammerhead guy from Pirates where his eyes are so close to the top of the skull. Rule of thumb is that your eyes are at the halfway point on your head. No way around that. I appreciate the magic of visual distraction that oldschool brilliantly provides, but that doesn't mean digital is wrong for doing it more straightforwardly. Both Baker's own Judge character from Jackson's The Frighteners and the Faun and the Creepy eyeless fat/thin man in Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth are great examples of practical and digital makeup fx doing what each do best, in harmony. I just get funny (and probably all preachy) when people profess to loving these artistic/technical disciplines but their objectivity goes out the window, as in the tired old "oldschool rulez/cg sux" simpleminded vendetta that's been going on here forever. One thing that elevates guys like Baker and Muren is that they're NOT close-minded, and their openness to new possibilities is of course why they've made such huge strides and taken their respective types of FX into the future. Everyone here probably knows the story of how Baker was completely opposed by the old guard in pushing animatronics. It's EXACTLY the same analogy with cg makeup. Another analogy comes from John Lasseter, who said, "Computers don't create computer animation any more than a pencil creates pencil animation. What creates computer animation is the artist". And whether it's makeup, cg or whatever, it's all just a means to an end and that end is the CHARACTER, not the technique. Our love and dissection of the art of prosthetic effects is diametrically opposed to the concerns of filmmakers in creating a character or narrative by any/the best means possible (with the moderators of time, production logistics, practicality and budget). Which is fine, but many fans don't recognise/confuse that they're heading in one direction and we're heading in the other. <p> At the risk of making a goofy Dad joke to everyone in the Tb, don't cut off your noses to spite your faces. I'm not sure if that's ironic or muddies the metaphor, but it's still appropriate! <p> Cheers.
June 23, 2009, 11:49 p.m. CST
by half vader
Unless you go digital and rub out the top part of the skull, is what I meant to write. Eloquent and concise I ain't.
June 24, 2009, 1:47 a.m. CST
A tools a tool. It's always been about pushing things beyond the limits, be it Practical or CGI. It was only a few years ago that CGI left the tedious wireframe pull and tug way of creating an object. You say directors overdo it. Most of CGI's bad's are more related to time, team and budget. The practical guys have more control over things as a team. In CGI, you have a guy who sculpts it and maybe textures it, then someone else paints it, then someone else animates it, then someone else does the render passes, and then someone else composites it into the film. Most of the practical guys are there in th eother guys ear, when each new stage happens to the work/creation. Some of the sculptors manage to puppet the final piece. Take that as you will. Also, The Astronauts didn't fix the ship. The Nasa guys on the ground did. They Astronauts followed directions and advice. Pick up some Clay- Water Based or Plastine, and try the free Zbrush Demo. Most importantly Have fun and see where it goes for you. Sometimes like food, the Critic has to get hands on to truly understand and appreciate the work they judge.
June 24, 2009, 4:31 a.m. CST
by half vader
Ooh, I just came over all John Wayne-like!
June 24, 2009, 4:42 a.m. CST
by half vader
Directors DO overdo it. In exactly the same boys-with-toys way as what's been happening the last 5 years or so with Pre-vis vs storyboards. And morphing before it. And shakeycam. And bloody lensflares. None of those ones seem to realise the most important consideration is CONTEXT. <p> But you're right. For decades I've been hearing/seeing/reading my heros say "it's just a tool" and for decades fanboys keep somehow missing it. There's a reason why guys like Muren and Tippett are still making better effects with the same tools (mainly) as everyone else - what I don't think Quint quite gets is that they carry the same sort of lateral problem-solving that fascinates him about the old stuff across to the new mediums too. Just a tool indeed. <p> Sorry for all the posts. This event just made me all excited...
June 24, 2009, 5:40 a.m. CST
by Talkbacker with no name
and didn't rick Baker say himself he learnt how to do cgi for those very reasons?
June 24, 2009, 2:17 p.m. CST
when you talk about a legend like Dick Smith. It could have been twice the length and I would have still been there with you. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do a series on practical effects masters !!!!!
June 25, 2009, 4:50 a.m. CST
by half vader
And in no time flat he leapfrogged most of the other zbrush users, because of his knowledge of form, proportion, anatomy, gravity acting on features over time and all that other 'boring' stuff which doesn't actually have anything specifically to do with one particular medium. I'm gonna pull my finger out and make the leap myself (for sculpting). "Monstermaker" may not know the fancy "short-cuts" but what he achieves by bashing away with a basic understanding is just phenomenal. I like the stuff of his Dad (and the later "Popeye" version)! <p> Oh and yeah +1 for that series please.
June 26, 2009, 11:10 a.m. CST
by half vader
I must say that before Jackson put a stop on the auction of all his cool collectables, I was looking real hard at his 'transformer' robot head that Rick Baker did. That thing was fantastic. Looked like a Tron-lion.
June 27, 2009, 1:31 p.m. CST
July 7, 2009, 12:23 p.m. CST
by Cellar Door
These guys were more my heroes as a kid than many of the actors portraying the fictional heroes the effects guys and girls helped bring to life. Great article!<p>And yes, where's Tom Savini?
Aug. 28, 2010, 6:04 p.m. CST
...so it took me over a year to read the article but thanks for the mention! I don't even remember the request. That's me, ever the jokester, yuk yuk. NIce piece, thanks, it brings back the memories. By the way, fun fact: JJ and I BOTH had the Monster Makeup book as young kids, AND corresponded with Dick Smith, long before we even met each other. That should tell you something about our roots.