Digital Makeup Chronicles 2 — The Life of Brian

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series The dMFX Chronicles

Practically Effective The addition of Digital Makeup in Falling Skies actually expanded the use of practical effects.  I know that may shock some of you to read.  In a time when computer Generated Imagery frequently replaces the practical world, this syndicated, wrapped series bucked the trend.  Practical makeup artists used the computer as one of their tools, not a visual effects studio, to improve what they made sculpting rubber and glueing it to actors. This series, the Digital Makeup Chronicles, explores these effects, and discusses how practical and digital worked in tandem. After all, it is not every day you… Continue reading

Tracking for FRINGE Effect — Performance Transfer in Production

Grabbing an Actor’s Performance In 2008 concepts and methods developed working on 3D conversion for IMAX films combined to solve a problem at Zoic studios for the Bad Robot TV series FRINGE. Those IMAX3D films required large amounts of match moved geometry to generate depth information.  During that time I experimented projecting two dimensional tracking information to the surface of a placed 3D model, as a simple “look-at” constraint — capturing movement that was much more accurate than that produced by hand animation.  Unfortunately it was too late in production to use it effectively. The FRINGE team faced a similar,… Continue reading

Lost Concepts: Part 3 — Falling Skies

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Lost Concepts

Concept Art by Johnathan Banta As part of any creative process, there are a lot of abandoned avenues and choices. When a final  design concept is approved, all other art is shelved and a final creation guided from approved art. It is an evolution, sometimes directed, and occasionally as a last resort. For television work especially, design and manufacture of these creations happens under a very tight timeline. The TNT series Falling Skies was no different in this regard, and several concept artists (Neville Page, and Aaron Sims among them) contributed.  As Digital Makeup Supervisor for this show, I also had some… Continue reading

Jason Jue — 1977-2015 — The Sassoon Six Minus One

“I sit on the beach, drink instant coffee, and dive when I can.” Jason Jue   On April 5, 2015,  The Digital Makeup Initiative,  Stereo VFX, and Stereo Conversion Communities lost one of its pioneers.  Jason Jue, VFX supervisor, compositor, and avid diver passed away. Those who knew him grieve with his family, and are all taken aback by the sudden happenings that pulled him from this world.  What I can say most about him is that he was my good friend. Jason was the third employee of Sassoon Film Design (Santa Monica, CA). Jammed into a one room office with myself, fellow… Continue reading

Digital Nimoy — Across the Final Frontier

The Digital Legacy of One of the world’s first 3D scanned actors.   I’d hoped to have written this before it happened. You never know how much you appreciate something, or someone until they are gone.  I was one of the generation raised in a world where the name SPOCK meant something more than how to raise children.  The character that Leonard Nimoy created on Star Trek gave was an ideal of logic, and personified our struggle to overcome or embrace emotion.  Mr. Nimoy gave us an unforgettable performance, and was able to eventually springboard from this character and become an author, singer, screenwriter,… Continue reading

Lost Concepts: Part 2 — Almost Human dMFX

©2015 Johnathan Banta — for MastersFX
This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Lost Concepts

The Lost Concept Series explores production designs by Johnathan Banta that never saw the light of day — until now.   There is always so much work that goes into an entertainment property that no one ever sees. Were it not for the books that chronicle the preproduction of Star Wars, the world would have never seen many of the concepts that led to the designs we love (designs which now grace the prequel universe of Star Wars Rebels).  Such is the case with some work I did for the Bad Robot television series Almost Human. MastersFX was contracted to do the… Continue reading

Fringe to Falling Skies — The Unwanted Rise of Digital Makeup

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series The dMFX Chronicles

It Came From the 1990’s Okay, this will take a little bit of back-story… In 1997, I started to write an article in conjunction with Digital Domain’s Andre Bustanoby (fresh off of Titanic VFX) for the (now archival) website VFXHQ.  This article was to chronicle what we saw as the beginning of a new methodology in VFX — a blending of practical makeup and digital tools.  We envisioned that makeup artists would embrace this new realm and create wondrous new characters with new tools and old know-how.  After all, the successful Jurassic Park was a hybrid film, combining the best of practical FX with digital FX, as… Continue reading

MastersFX VES Nomination for dMFX

Digital Makeup Shines at VES Awards The Visual Effects Society has nominated Hemlock Grove as one of its finalists for best visual effects in a television program.  It is an achievement to have digital makeup effects (dMFX) nominated for such a prestigious award, and hopefully a trend for the community at large for acceptance of the craft. It is an honor to be part of that crew, and to be nominated by our peers. Below is a press release about the work, and a link to a video showing some of the many shows in 2014 involving the dMFX, and MFX teams in the united… Continue reading

Digital Makeup Joins The Stage February 2, 2014

Todd Masters and Johnathan Banta At The Digital Days Conference. The Digital Days Conference kicks off Saturday Feb 1, 2014. Todd Masters and Johnathan Banta (spelled wrong on their website) of MastersFX join a panel Sunday to talk about the convergence of practical and digital effects. Join us as we talk of the crossing between digits and digital.   UPDATE: The time of the panel has changed to SUNDAY FEB 2, 12.45pm – 2.15pm EA Theatre: The Bigger Picture This is the time the online program shows: Sunday     1:30pm-3pm Theatre: The Bigger Picture Integrating Practical & Digital FX –… Continue reading

MastersFX Digital Makeup Division

The Digital Makeup Initiative in practice at MastersFX for Season 4 of Falling Skies. Here is a link to their press release: MASTERSFX Perfects Practical/Digital Effects Mix for Emmy Nominated TV Series “Falling Skies” “The upgrade of MASTERSFX’s Digital Makeup division occurred in tandem with the launch of “Falling Skies.” Johnny Banta, MASTERSFX’s Lead Digital Makeup Artist, says, “Makeup FX have evolved dramatically over the past 30 years — today, better materials and modern techniques are standard fare. But these are just tools in the hands of an artist. The computer is also a tool, and it is our intent to marry… Continue reading

The Digital Makeup Initiative

dMFX joins the pantheon of tools. FXGuide.com ran a quick blurb on work I am leading at MastersFX for Steven Spielberg’s FALLING SKIES.  Though not intended to be a news item, they introduced my Digital Makeup Initiative to the world, to some degree. The initial goal of the initiative is to put the tools developed digitally back in the hands of makeup creatives, instead of detached visual effects facilities.  It is too easy to just wave the wand of the digital brush and eliminate all the work done on-set, when it can be completed by pushing past the physical limitations… Continue reading