behind the scenes at StrangewerksFilms

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Tentacle Hand From Hell!

So okay, genetic manipulation is bad. Don’t take my friggin’ word for it. Just see for yourself:

 

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Here’s some pics of the Ethan Monster’s gnarled tentacle hand from the film Lifeform…

Basically, it’s a silicone glove the performer slips on. There’s a wire inside the tentacle to help it hold whatever positions we put it into. (Mostly strangling people.)

Below are a couple of in-production pics for the tentacle. The first one shows us filling the hollow latex tentacle with Smooth-On FlexFoam-It. Very messy process, but it was a lot of fun watching it foam out of the pour hole.

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Below is the finished silicone tentacle, removed from its mold. You can see the foam filling coming out the back

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After this we attached it to the silicone glove at the joint we molded into the glove. Then it was painted with FuseFX platinum silicone paint and Psycho Paint. It was a blast being able to cut loose and be creative with the makeup. Nobody really does practical monster makeup for features, or so it seems these days.

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Just one of the many crazy monster makeups we did for the shoot! (Actors Ree Merrill and Adam Cerny goofing around on set with aforementioned tentacle…)

Mutated Monster Face…

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Now that our horror feature film Lifeform is about to be released, I thought it would be cool to show some of the many horror special effects makeups we created for it. (Too many if you ask my wife!)

We figured we’d have at least two creatures in the film–one is the main creature played by Virginia Logan and the other is the son of the villain, who is played by Adam Cerny. For him, we thought we’d have some crazy face mutation as well as a mutated monster hand. In this piece, we’ll show some of the steps involved in creating the face prothetic.

Here’s a shot of the face sculpture, you can see where we tried to work some tentacles in. Everyone knows tentacles are what’s best in life, after laying wasted to your enemies, listening to the lamentations of their girlfriends, etc. etc.

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After sculpting it, I had Anthony Jones cast it in Rebound from Smooth-On and make the mother mold for it.  Then he casted the piece in silicone, also from Smooth-On. Don’t remember which one. He did a great job. All the details were perfectly transferred to the piece.

After that, Christine painted it with silicone paint. She’s an artist, so of course she did a smashing job of bringing out the fine details (and she has not coerced my admiration for her work in any way!)

Here it is on Adam. He did a great job of acting out the part of a mutant freak! Though he really doesn’t look that happy, in fact he looks a little annoyed. The things you have to do for showbiz…

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The top shot is from the film set…looks pretty awesome especially with creature contacts. He gets to strangle people with his mutant tentacle hand too, a pretty standard horror movie convention, but still delicious!

GOOD NEWS!

The official trailer for our 2017 horror film “Lifeform” will be dropping next month, along with the official site for the film. “Lifeform” will be available for distributors to pick up at that time as well. We are very excited! (Hopefully you are too. If not, I will personally come over and tap dance for you. Or sing. Depends on my mood.) beauty-is-a-beast1

Giving Life to Lifeform…

We’re in the midst of creating 3D animations for our film Lifeform. The software we chose was Blender–a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software product used for creating visual effects. Here at our studio we’re doing the animation, lighting and compositing. Modeling and rigging were handled by talented Blender vets Kevin Hayes and Nathan Taylor, respectively. At last count there were forty–odd (and we do mean odd) 3D fx shots in the film, which, while it doesn’t sound like a lot, is a HUGE amount of work, not to mention render time. Currently we’re averaging a day-and-a-half to two days of render time per shot, so you can imagine how long it’s taking to wade through the list. Still, it’s worth it when you see the results…   One of the more interesting facts is that you actually output the animation as a series of still images, .pngs, which you then import into Aftereffects, in order to create an entire animation, who’d have figured that? When we designed the actual creature, I was looking to invest attributes from actual creatures in nature, in order to give it a more authentic feel. Some dinosaur plating here, some praying mantis there, a scorpion tail over here… Now we’re trying to emulate some of the physical movements these creatures make in the real world to bring the illusion home.


One tip I would give to any fledgling animators: don’t forget to use the animation curves to smooth out the model’s movements. You can use the bezier tools to make them less “roller-coaster” like–some of mine were looking like the Cyclone at Coney Island before I smoothed them out!
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The goal is to finish all the 3D shots in the next few months and then on to color correcting and sound mix! Ugh…

Here’s an effects clip from Lifeform that features Virginia Logan. She looks chilling in this clip! Good job Virginia!

We’re hard at work creating a whole lot of Blender creature effects for the film, just like the multi-tentacle effect here, in addition to a ton of AfterEffects work by some talented people. The goal is to be finished with post within the next three months so we can get started on even more macabre madness!

Mutant Monster Tentacle Attack Scene!

Presented for your edification: a partially completed tentacle attack scene featuring Virginia Logan suddenly sprouting mutant monster tentacles from out of her back and molesting attacking Peter Alexandrou–and who can blame her really? It was a long day on set, afterall. Everyone was cranky!

Actually, we’ve been using Blender to create 3D animated tentacles for these shots. Then we bring them into AfterEffects and combine them with a matte created in Mocha (sounds like we’re making boozy drinks here!) and, voila: instant monster tentacles! Actually, it’s not that instantaneous, but it’s very gratifying to see one’s vision of tentacular (is that a real word?) homicide come to life before one’s eyes.

We combined the computer tentacles with some practical ones on set. For these, we actually had to do reverse shots, which involved wrapping the silicone prop tentacle (made from Smooth-On’s Dragon Skin silicone product) around the actor’s wrists or ankles, greasing them up with KY (who says sets are no fun?) and pulling them off while filming. Then in Final Cut Pro, we reversed these shots so they looked like the tentacles were wrapping around his limbs. I was pleased with how seemless these shots turned out.

What do you think?

tentacle test from Brian Schiavo on Vimeo.

Cyber Brain Machine Props…

Recently I got a call from Drew Bellware at Pandora Machine. For his latest film–starrring one of my favorite actresses–Kate Britton— he wanted some type of consciousness transference device, that would enable a person to download themselves into an android body. Not having one on hand, I was forced to construct said device from scratch–with no time or no real budget–as usual! Fortunately, I had a bunch of vacuum tubes laying around that I’d bought on ebay years ago and never had the chance to use. I love vacuum tubes, they add an arcane tech feel, especially when used in conjunction with new sci fi tech. Just feels French for some reason–there’s a certain “je ne se quois” about it, which means “I would like my croissant toasted and dipped in curdled goat’s milk.” So after a trip to the Depo for parts, I came up with this. Hope you like it:

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I had to make two of them, one for the user and another for the android to wear….

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We also had to have some kind of control base–which I had no idea for. No clue. As I was wracking my brain and walking down Third Ave, I looked down and saw a big, disgustingly dirty fan someone had unceremoniously dumped in the street–lighting struck. That was what I’d build the thing around!  I carted it home, threw it in a plastic bag for fear of BEDBUGS and eventually got around to taking it apart. Threw some parts on it including popsicle  molds, a spark plug cleaner, a base from a Babylon 5 doll, some volume control knobs, etc., along with some lights I rigged  on the inside and –voila! A conscious transferral device. Looks great in moody lighting, don’t you think?IMG_2687