With about 400 effects shots and requiring two to four separate shooting units this film promises to be quite the roller coster ride. If you're anything like me you've picked up an X-men comic or seen the animated version and enjoyed them. But now, it looks like we're all in for a treat.
Patrick Stewart has stated that "this movie is cooler then Star Trek!" and personally, I can't wait to get a peek at this film. At any rate, here are a few exerps from the prosthetics master on the X-men project that I thought you might enjoy. I am sure that even if you're strictly a 3D or digital graphics person you'll appreciate them.
Gord Smith - FxSmith.com
"In a very general sense I've been responsible for the looks of all the characters. I've been supervising the special makeup effects, hair and wigs," said Smith.
"The claws [for Wolverine] were dealt with in a number of different ways. All four of the Logans have individual, custom made claws that they wear. They just kind of hold on to them in the palms of their hands and squeeze their fist. They're custom formed to fit over their knuckles so that it looks like the claws are coming out of their hand. That way it's safe. They can put them down rather than walk around with a set of qinsu kitchen knives all the time they're on set." [In order to make the claws look retractable] "I have mechanical arms that were made with blades shooting out and retracting. Also, a lot of the stuff that's in action is being done with CG [computer graphic image]. If it's a wide shot and we see the full figure, with the blades retracting and shooting out, those are done with CG. Any time it's a close up to establish detail, it's live." Regarding the claws, Smith says, "Anything banging into the end of those claws levers them into the top of his hand. We have real blades for punching through walls, plastic extruded blades for general usage and rubber blades for getting close in stuntwork."
Smith says, "The biggest character for me has been Mystique. She wears about 75 prosthetics that are of a new technology that we've developed where, in this particular case, we can reuse the prosthetics. We don't glue the prosthetics down except on the very edges, the rest of it is self sticking." Smith explains, "It's reasonably comfortable for the actress. We don't have to cover her in glue. Most of her body is covered in scales, and then the rest of her body we spray blue."
On the effects that gluing prosthetics has on actors Smith said, "We haven't had to have a dermatologist on the set yet. We've been shooting for a very long time, and they have to wear the prosthetic for many hours every day. It's not painful at all in this particular case, except for Mystique and that's mostly because of the paint. We have to paint her entire body, her face, in her ears, up her nose, around her eyes, and we use a water proof paint so that sweat doesn't affect it in any way. In order for the paint to be waterproof, it has to be suspended in an alcohol base, and you just spray her in a well-ventilated room and mask her. Once it's on, it's quite permanent. Taking it off is a little labor intensive, but it comes off with adhesive removers and creams and things."
According to sources the processes that Gordon Smith uses in the new X-men movie are cutting edge technology that he has developed himself over the last seven years involving silicone - glue free - prosthetics. With these new techniques, up and coming camera effects like those in the Matrix and CGI [computer graphic images] there is no telling what wonderful new and exciting new worlds can be created. However, I have to tell you that without a good story and script, these effects are meaningless.
Some of these quotes have been taken from the August issue of Cinefantastique magazine and you can visit their website at:
Twentieth Century Fox
DIRECTOR Bryan Singer
RELEASE July 14, 2000
COST $75 million
PRODUCTION VFX SUPERVISOR Michael Fink
Available Light Ltd. VFX SUPERVISOR John Van Vliet
C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures VFX SUPERVISOR John Mariella
Cinesite VFX SUPERVISOR Micheal J. McAlister
VFX SUPERVISOR Jonathan Egstad
DIGITAL FX SUPERVISOR Dave Prescott
Hammerhead Productions VFX SUPERVISOR Theresa Ellis
Kleiser-Walczak VFX SUPERVISOR Frank E. Vitz
Matte World Digital VFX SUPERVISOR Craig Barron
VFX SUPERVISOR Joe Gerari
DIGITAL FX SUPERVISOR David Sosalla
PHYSICAL FX SUPERVISOR Colin Chilvers
FXSmith MAKEUP FX SUPERVISOR Gordon Smith
Tom De Santo / Blanche McDermaid / Ed Solomon
Christopher McQuarrie / Joss Whedon / David Hayter / Bryan Singer
Lauren Shuler-Donner / Ralph Winter
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Patrick Stewart / Ian McKellen / Halle Berry / Anna Paquin
Ray Park / Hugh Jackman / Famke Janssen / Bruce Davison