Friday, July 31, 2009

Zombie School Day 5

Photo #59: The sun is up and I’m still cranking away at these zombies that film in 9 hours. I picked a color scheme for each girl and started by stippling the body skins with PAX paint. I guess I should know what PAX stands for, but I’m too tired to try and remember! I can tell you that it is made of acrylic paint and Pros aide adhesive. The mixture varied depending on the results you want. The more adhesive you use, the more translucent the paint, and the better it sticks. A higher ratio of acrylic paint will make the coverage more opaque, but won’t stay on the actor as long.

Photo #60: Mark dropped of the new foam run. Despite the fact that he got the molds while the plaster was still steaming, he got three perfect pieces out in the first run. Thanks, Mark!

Photo #61: Despite the time crunch, I am going to paint the facial appliances with rubber cement. Regular office supply cement is the paint base, colored with all-tint and cut with Bestine. It allows for a translucent build up of color that provides a more realistic end result.

Photo #62: The rubber cement paint tens to get a little thick, and can quickly gum up an airbrush needle. I have always found that it is easier to use a single action airbrush over a double action. I prefer the Pasche H. There are several size tips and needles you can use, but I am sticking with a number 3.

Photo # 63# There will be a lot of mixing going on, so you will need a lot of paper cups!

Photo # 64: The rubber cement mix ratio also varies, depending on the desired result. It will always be more thinner than glue, just to get it through the brush. More thinner will make a smoother, flatter paint. Less thinner will keep the cement thick, and give you splatter peters and such things. It is important to always mix the tint into the straight rubber cement prior to thinning. The tint just beads up in the thinner or thinned rubber.

Photo #65: Painting the Marissa Zombie. I start with the shadow areas. You can also see the splatter effect.

Photo #66: Here she is again after a little more work.

Photo #67: And a little while later still. A painting project like this could usually take up to 8 hours. There is a lot of subtle layering. But I only have about 15 minutes left if I plan on having all 4 zombies done by call time.

Photo #68: Here is Leah’s zombie paint in progress. Oh, I still have to make her eyeball rig!

Photo #69: Here you can see the color direction I am going in for each zombie. Pax says I have too much of a Power Ranger’s producer in me. Blue zombie, go! Red zombie, go! And when we combined our powers..

Photo #70: Its call time. People everywhere in the barnyard. The main house is a frenzy of activity. Costumes and beauty make up are in full force.

Photo # 71: Lesley is suited up. I’m not afraid to admit I’ve developed quite the crush. She’s awesome.

Photo #72: Remember Lexi from barnyard fx: alien ninja? Well, she’s back for another crazy night in the swamp. She’s getting Marissa ready for the video’s opening sequence.

Photo #73: Gone camping. No, just dressing the set for Fallbrooke’s terrifying video…

Photo #74: I bought that 61 caddy 15 years ago with the intention of making it a restoration side project. I’ve never had the time to rebuild it, but it makes an amazing piece of set deco. What says creepy more than an abandoned car sinking in the swamp?

Photo #75: A change in plan (and camera direction) has the art dogs covering some structure with camo nets. I have a ton of camo nets. Yet I always need MORE camo nets…

Photo #76: I just watched the sun go down for the second or third time in a row with out sleeping. I can’t remember which one. I’m sure it was only two, but it feels like a million hours ago since the sun went down last time. I don’t even understand what I’m writing! But the band is jamming around the campfire with a bunch of hot girls. At least somebody is having fun!

Photo #77: As soon as I finish these next few entries, I can sleep. Which would be cool, except now I am afraid to. This photo I took of Marissa Zombie is sure to give me nightmares!!!

Photo #78: Leah is non-stop laughs. I should have put money on her reaction to my make up design! It was almost exactly what I predicted in the blog yesterday. Or two days ago. You know what I mean.

Photo #79: Lesley. Still pretty even as a zombie. I’ll stop talking now before I get myself in trouble…

Photo #80: Kerri embodies the core idea of the music video. Girls. Dead. Still sexy.

Photo #81: Yeah, that’s still my driveway. But hopefully only you and I will be able to tell when the video is finished!

Photo #82: The band is performing by the Cadillac, which has been dressed with greens. Looks much more like a swamp now.

Photo #83: I’m bummed I didn’t get more pictures tonight. But my hands where either always busy, or covered in glue! But shots like this make up for the ones I didn’t get.

Photo #84: Can you lick your own eyeball? Leah really brought her zombie to life. Does that even make sense? Let me try it another way: she was a perfect zombie.

Photo #85: There was a lot of body painting being done. And when the girls decided they weren’t going to wear shoes to dance in the water, there was even more body painting going on…

Photo #86: Yeah. That's freaking Fallbrooke in my yard. Now that’s a Friday night!

Photo #87: Yet another image that will disrupt my sleep…

Photo #88: We wrapped! But wait, there’s more…the make-ups that took over an hour each to put on? Even longer to take off! I can’t believe the sun is up again. And I can’t express how much of a trooper Marissa is. She was the first one in make up, and the last one out. That’s a lot of hours. All the girls were amazing, and what they did in the make up made everything it took to create so worthwhile. I can’t wait till you can see the video!!!

Thanks for following the process. I sincerely doubt you want to follow us cleaning up the yard, but I will blog about the next crazy project I do ASAP! Catch you later…

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zombie School Day 4

Photo #45: Got most of the sculpting done. Ideally it would have been done a week ago, and today would be spent prepping for the shoot and napping to be ready for working Friday 5pm to 5am. But Hollywood doesn’t work that way! I have to finish these sculpts, mold them, make the zombie body skins, buy wigs, build sets, blah, blah blah. Sorry, thinking through the keyboard…
The good news this morning is that Mark ran a perfect foam the first shot (as he always does) and the Marissa Zombie is ready for paint. It’s motivating to have a finished product in your hands. Light at the end of the tunnel!

Photo #46: So I left off last night with Zombie 4’s quick rough. Here she is with some more form to her. The eyeball thing is going to be cool. Or gross. Which is cool.

Photo #47: And here is Zombie #3 finished. I kept this one simple. But I have some crazy ideas for the finish work. I hope I can pull it off. It’s going to be tough to apply 4 full body makeups in the middle of the night (the girls need to be shot as their beautiful selves prior to turning into zombies) alone. So it doesn’t leave much time for experiment or styling. But I dare pretend I’ll have a few moments to try some things. If there are any zombie maker volunteers, that would help a lot! What are you doing tonite, say 3am?

Photo #48: I was supposed to have these all molded by first light so Mark could grab them when he dropped off the foam. Didn’t happen. He gave me one of those raised eyebrow looks and confirmed that this all shoots tomorrow night. Yup. I could tell he wanted to look at his watch, but he was merciful. Regardless, I have to mold these things fast! So I am going to attempt to do 3 molds at the same time. Ready…go!

Photo #49: One last look at the finished Zombie #4 in case I mess these molds up. My gut tells me that Leah is going to hate her makeup, because it is NOT pretty. But I have to admit that it is my favorite out of the four sculpts. Her real face has very defined, Disneyesque qualities that help me create a real character. If you see her, tell her you thought it was cool so she stops hating me! The hanging eyeball is probably going to get old fast when she is dancing…(in a soft voice, “sorry.”)

Photo #50: You may have noticed that Leah Zombie was shiny in that last photo. Since we already went over the basic molding process, I won’t bore you with that again. Instead, I’ll bore you with the details. She is shiny because I sprayed her with an aerosol acrylic coating called Crystal Clear. This toughens up the clay to help endure the molding process, and also creates a barrier to aide in removal. The plaster gets extremely hot as it cures, which melts the clay. Without this barrier, the clay bonds to the plaster. It will still come out, but it’s the difference between hours of scrubbing or peeling it off like an orange peel.

Are you wondering what the Matte Finish is for? Here’s the thing: as helpful as the Crystal Clear is, it also makes applying the splash coat of plaster like mixing water and oil. The plaster just slides off, and it takes forever to build up that ½ inch. But a quick spray of Matte Finish gives the clay surface bite again, and allows the plaster to hold. Since I am unusually talkative today, I’ll also add that you shouldn’t try to take the shortcut of ONLY using the Matte Finish. It is a porous coating, and will actually aide the clay in sticking feverishly to the cured cement. Just FYI.

Photo #51: Finally, something new! There was no way I was going to be able to do full torso sculpts and molds for the 3 dancer zombies, so I am using a failsafe old school technique called “tissue and latex”. Many of your favorite movie zombies were made this way. Even the classic Frankenstein was done in a similar fashion. Here we see the raw liquid latex. Obviously what I am about to do involves only one other ingredient: tissue! In this case, I am using paper towels. They hold up better when wet, and they give a good “chicken skin” texture when dry. I got my latex at

Photo #52: I just talked to Bree, the costumer, and she is going to have a lot of holes in the costumes bearing skin. So to be prepared, I am making generic zombie skin patches. Super easy. Dip random size pieces of paper towel in the latex, and put them on a slick surface like glass or plastic. Wrinkle it up a little and let it dry. I tried to make my wrinkles in different patterns and rhythms, so they will look natural along the various contours of the body.

Photo #53: Alright, now that you are an expert at generic zombie skin, its time for the next level. I have Kerri’s body cast, and I am going to make her a form fitting, custom zombie skin. The technique is the same; I just need to be more conscious of the wrinkle rhythm along her body. I am also going to use cotton balls dipped in latex to create some ribs and a sternum.

Photo #54: Here’s the zombie skin in progress.

Photo #55: I was explaining the delicate art of zombie skinning, and Marissa was like, “Yeah, what ever, dude. Anybody can do that.” And I was like, “No way, cause you have to be totally versed in…”, and then she was half way done with Leah’s zombie skin. And hers was really good. Yeah, well…whatever…

Photo #56: Zombies are cool, but you also need a creepy place for them to do zombie stuff. We will be filming here at the barnyard tomorrow. Scary? It’s terrifying to me! I have to get this place cleared out and looking like a swamp within the next 12 hours! Tomorrow’s photos should be interesting…

Photo #57: So I’m sitting here latexing torsos (There are worse jobs…) and I’m staring at a bunch of old set junk in the corner. And it starts to look like…a new set! It’s a totally random idea, and we are already out of time. But if you haven’t picked up on this by now, I like a challenge…

Photo #58: Zombie skins are done. Here’s a look at what I did with the cotton. Hope you have a good night. I sleep vicariously through you…

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Zombie School Day 3

Photo #29: The days are getting longer, but time is getting shorter! Like some ancient mystical rhyme. Woke up early (but not as early as geekyfanboy who had already emailed me by 8am!) and cracked Marissa zombie’s mold open. The roma clay peeled right out, and it was ready for foam.

Photo #30: The gypsum captures all the detail of the sculpt. Even though it is cement, the thin edges and tiny details are pretty frail. Don’t go scraping around in there with metal tools! It will break the surface off!

Photo #31: With Marissa Zombie off to the foam lab, its time to start working on the dancer Zombies. First up is Kerri. Another quick grocery store bald cap and we are ready for a face and body cast. Yeah, grocery bags and duct tape. I told you, that’s why we call it the BarnYard!

Photo #32: Marissa in the workshop. Actress, dancer, zombie…and zombie maker! I was glad she was there, though. It helped the other girls relax. Everyone gets nervous the first time they get a face cast, and Marissa was a good “If I could do it, you can do it” cheerleader.

Photo #33: This is the part where people get the most nervous…

Photo #34: This would be the part people would be the most nervous if they could see what they looked like from the outside! It looks scary, but believe it or not, all that plaster bandage was put on in less than 5 minutes. And it is ready to take off almost instantly.

Photo # 35: Here’s our next zombie dancer, Lesley. She’ll probably kill me for posting this picture…

Photo #36: The alginate used to make the cast is very similar to products used for mud masks in high-end spas. So the girls are getting skin treatment while prepping to look like zombies! Here we see Zombie girl Leah’s make-up fully removed by the face cast. It’s an art piece in itself!

Photo #37: I plan on doing body sculpts on the zombie dancers, so I took full torso casts. But I need to make separate head “snaps” for the face sculpts. I’m doing two processes at once here by using WED clay to make the mold flange before I recast Kerri’s face.

Photo #38: The ultracal snap drying.

Photo #39: I did the same technique for Leslie and Leah’s face snaps.

Photo #40: Now I have 3 face casts. Time to start sculpting again.

Photo #41: Kerri’s Zombie #2 is roughed in. I’m trying to give each girl a different zombie style. Marissa’s is pretty intricate overall, but the three dancers will each have a simpler, distinct style.

Photo #42: Finished Zombie #2 sculpt.

Photo #43: Lesley’s Zombie #3 roughed out. I am trying to show more skull structure in this one.

Photo # 44: Leah’s Zombie #4 at it's earliest moments. My gut has me prepping this one for a popped out eyeball…