Our trip down to Falmouth Uni preceded The Prosthetics Event 2023. It was a great trip, and so nice to see the work being done by students there and talk shop.
As always, we have a rough idea about what we want to talk about, but it’s always led by the feeling in the room at the time, questions that come up and current events within the group .
We spoke for so long in a packed room using a single recorder, so the sound is a little different from our usual close microphone stuff. It went on for nearly three hours, and fell into two distinct sections – the first half we present here. The second part we shall release soon, and was when Neill Gorton arrived after just having beaten Covid again. Present were lecturers and all-round good eggs Brad Greenwood and Duncan Cameron, plus a room crammed with the students from the Prosthetic Effects MA who we had come to see.
Thanks to Duncan Cameron for his awesome sketches which feature in the episode art of parts 1 and 2. Check his work out on Insta @brokensharkcage.
The conversation varied in topic, but some of the bullet points include:
- My fondness for the Fangoria #99 article on Optic Nerve from 1990 (I still have my copy!).
I have a return letter which I treasure from Everett Burrell, who, along with John Vulich were Optic Nerve at the time. Imagine that time, pre Google and emails where letter writing was still how we communicate over long distance – and to get a reply!
I’m forever grateful for it and it is one of the reasons I still enjoy talking to and helping people when they have questions I may be able to answer.
2. That lonely feeling of striking out into the new, doing something for the first time.
3. How a brief is essetial, even if you set your own. Define something and set limitations in order to enable creative thinking.
4. Copying makeups and design as an exercise to confront your limitations and technical issues vs having no imagination and never creating an original idea.
5. The joy of miniatures, and how it feels when present with a miniature. It goes way beyond film making or it’s use in industry. Model trains exhibitions are well attended, and it isn’t something you can enjoy from a distance, you need to be present.
6. A little praise of Neill before he arrived at the Uni to join the talk.
7. Me emotivley asking people to be be better, not to skip things or cut corners when the point is to be better.
8. AI impact on us, displacement of jobs rather than replacement. The big threat to concept artists as perceptions of those who would pay for an artists time and skill believe that they can bypass that expense entirely by using an AI tool instead. It brought up the need for human endeavour. It’s why we like sport and hate steroid cheats – we celebrate what a person is capable of and admire competence.
We had a lot of interactions with students about the prospect of including digital tools in an up to recently analogue workspace. These are some thoughts regarding it which we feel act as a conclusion so far as to what we think about it:
Conclusion to Introducing Digital To Makeup Artists.
Makeup artists typically like makeup. It is a tactile medium, and they enjoy products, how they feel and smell and respond to brushes and pressure. Making prosthetics similarly has it’s tactile qualities, and it is hard to separate these sensations from the very nature of the joy in the work.
It is little wonder then that this same group of people may not have developed an extensive love of digital versions of the same work. Doing a digital makeup effect in Photoshop requires the makeup artist mindset but somehow it is not the same thing, and I think this reluctance to do digital work can put the makeup community at a disadvantage.
There are no doubt digital inroads that individual makeup artists make, and dabbling with digital tools such as Photoshop, Procreate and digital sculpting in ZBrush and Nomad. These are not currently included as standard in makeup schools though, and the combination of lack of familiarity, cost and teaching in this area means there isn’t a standardised response to the increased use of digital tools in our industry.
It is because of this realisation that we felt it was a worthy subject to discuss at the Prosthetics Event. We wanted to discuss what we considered to be a big shift in the way work was being done, and to that end we assembled a presentation looking at the effects of the wider adoption of three big technologies at play in the industry. These would be 3D scanning, 3D printing and digital sculpting.
Having seen various makeup courses, colleges and places of work with a varied amount of digital tools and processes, we see that there is an uneven spread of adoption. Some places rely on regular scanning instead of lifecasting and a room full of printers to speed up the efficiency of their output, with staff regularly working both practically and digitally to great effect. Other places have no interest in digital and have not involved any digital aspects to their workflow.
Naturally, as with any technology there is a spectrum of cost and sophistication, but even the lower end of these tools is now good enough to be a viable option. As the tech improves, we will see the quality go up, and as things become better, easier and more commonly used, it makes sense for us in the makeup world to include these in our toolbox. This therefore is our attempt to help this along.
Max Von Sydow wearing the Father Merrin makeup by the mighty Dick Smith from the 1973 film The Exorcist on the left. He was in his early 40’s then.
The image to the right of that is Max Von Sydow aged around 75 without makeup.
The joy of skillful makeup is that rubber can be hidden in plain sight. The illusions that can be created by this is the joy of this kind of work.