Sunday, 25 July 2010

Special Effects

Yesterday we did the first effects tests. We have two death scenes in the first weekend's shooting and needed to start figuring out if doing them was possible as I'd have to change it somehow before shooting otherwise. Of the two deaths, one reads as being a lot more complicated and so this was the one that we mainly focused on.

The character that gets killed dies by having straw from a scAIRcrow stuffed into his mouth until his eyes are pushed out by straw. Yes, it probably isn't medically accurate or even possible (I haven't researched) but I just know it'll look cool and people won't care about small details.

As outlandish as some of the death scenes in the script may sound, I've ensured they're all achievable (and on a budget) by watching tutorials here:

Armed with the knowledge that the effects are possible, I bought 10 polystyrene heads on eBay. They cost £30 and unfortunately, I weren't at home when these were delivered and so, had to pick them up from the local sorting office. I got on the bus carrying a very big box adorned with the following label:

I bought female heads as they were slightly cheaper and these were never going to be the final build, just something for me to test on and be confident that what I wrote could actually be pulled off.

Unpacking them was slightly creepy:

I then took three of these heads over to my producers' house and the testing started!

Out of the bubble wrap, the head looked like this:

We then put a couple of coats of liquid latex over it to try and smooth out the skin. This didn't go as well as we had hoped and we realised that it was because we were leaving the latex we were painting with out in the air and it was drying up just being in the pot. Consequently, the skin flaked quite a bit and didn't really look how it should have. We're glad that happened though - it was the whole reason for testing this effect and we know now not to leave the latex out.

Anyway, we then spray painted it with a colour that was way too pale and this is what it looked like:

We then painted some very crude cotton ball eyes:

Before anyone thinks that this is the quality we're achieving - these were just tests. We will be getting glass eyes that match the actor's eyes for the final effect and obviously, the skin texture and tone will be sorted out so that it will look a lot more convincing though Hollywood won't have anything to worry about!

Anyway, the aftermath of the effect:

Video footage was taken which will be going up on YouTube shortly.

For a first attempt without the proper materials, I'm really pleased with the results. It's important for me that the effects are in full view in scAIRcrows. I'm bored with seeing half hearted horror where the people are killed in mundane ways. A little creativity and fun never hurt anyone! I understand the value of having understated or off screen deaths (scAIRcrows has one character die off screen) but that only works if it matches the tone of the film.

And in testing, we thought up new ways to kill characters which may replace some of the deaths as they are written. It was a very creative day and I think a milestone in the scAIRcrows project - with a bit of work, we can definitely meet the ambitions of the script and that's a very encouraging thought!

We're not going to reveal all of the scAIRcrow designs as I'm aware that, at points, this blog may reveal too much so I'm keeping one eye on retaining some level of surprise for the final product. However, this is the nearly finished build (we haven't sorted out the face on the head yet) of our second scAIRcrow. If you read the previous blog, you can see that it bears some resemblance to one of the sketches. His name is Espantalho:

As I mentioned, YouTube video will be going up shortly and the best way to keep track of that is to follow the scAIRcrows twitter page - redirects to it.

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