Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Taking a break: Spider Demon - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7

The blog break continues as I am still overwhelmed elsewhere. In my absence, here is some stuff I have never shared from my days in the Makeup FX industry! Today I have for you the Spider Demon from season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

The Spider Demon came a long very soon after I started working on Buffy and I was VERY excited to design it. This is the kind of monster I have always been interested in (and continue to be), so I was really excited to show my bosses and production what I could do. I made this know to my coworkers when this monster was announced to the shop. That was when the one of the lead sculptures went behind my back to the bosses in an attempt to get me out of the way so that he could design this monster. Seriously. This was the first time encountering something like this, but sadly not the last... I have mentioned I don't do this type of work anymore, right?

Long story short, I ended up one of two designers on this monster... me and the sculpture (but really I was the designing this). The sculpture was now mad at everybody because his cunning plan had not completely panned out. My designs were far and away more liked and my design was the one approved and selected. Fun side note, whenever the bosses would like something in my designs, suddenly that element would appear in the sculptures designs.

Unfortunately the process of fine tuning the design of this creature was a long and muddled road. Production had two default statements for feedback: "It looks phallic." and "It looks vaginal." Sometimes, if we were really lucky, they would tell us it was BOTH. They saw genitals in EVERYTHING. More then once in an attempt to deal with a perceived phallus or vagina they would have us make changes and actually made the situation worse.

While I was the designer on this monster and did some of the paint and prep work and went to set with it there was an entire team of my skilled coworkers that saw the the sculpting, mechanics, molding, casting, and everything else that went into seeing this creature come about.

Enough talk, here are the Spider Demons...

RAWR! I'm the watered down Spider Demon!
This thing ate hearts and was important to the episodes story. Remember... it HAS to eat hearts...

This is what the Spider Demon SHOULD have looked like. I am standing behind this even after 12 years. This may be one of the best designs that I did for these shows and barring some bendy windy issues with limbs, it still is a nice design. I looked at reference and nature and came up with something that is not too horrible.

Let's jump back a step to have a look at my very original concepts.
Looking back now, I am not even sure these were really shown to production. The bosses were already sold on the above design and were pushing that one. It was clearly the best design.

I did some color variants... and that was when the phallic comments began to surface...
Apparently, when production looked at this design, they saw penis.
I think then need a counselor.

And so began the variations on the mouth for the Spider Demon. This one now has a beak like snapping mouth thing...

This handy diagrams shows you how it will work. This was all still TOO PHALLIC.

To make it less phallic, production had us do this...
This... THIS... is their less phallic suggestion. THIS is their big sollution to make it look less...
...oh, I give up.

Here is the final design for the Spider Demon. When it was all said and done, this is how it will look on a normal day... more or less.

Still was working out some of the extending mouth that comes out halfway up the body.
Nope, nothing phallic here... nice cloaca, though...

NOM NOM NOM! I am the hand puppet of doom!

The sculpture of the Spider Demon begins!

It is coming along nice and all... but isn't it a LITTLE small?

Yeah... it was a little small. About a forth of the size it should have been!

OOPS! Time to start over! Torso shown for size comparison.

I am just going to say it, because it was repeated time and time again at the time...
The sculpture didn't get his way with his schemes to be the only designer for this monster, my design was ultimately chosen, there was a false start with the smaller sized sculpture... so by the time it came to the this final version he was all grumpy and did not do as good of a job as he could have. 
REMEMBER, no matter what, ALWAYS do your best work on any project. If you are hired to do your best work, then that is what you need to deliver.

Some close ups of the mouth hole.... or cloaca.

I think he wants you to scratch his belly.

Here is a full view of the mouth parts that comes out and eats hearts.
Cause this is WAY LESS phallic then just a big toothy mouth on the end of a giant insect.

He is the final monster standing on it's own. Ignore the person holding it upright.

Lighting is everything. Taking photos of this inside is not doing this any favors.
It makes it look really cheap and all the flaws show up worse.

That pesky seam down the center of it's body...

That is better! Nature lighting makes it look a lot better and plays up a lot of the iridescent paint and coating.

The body is foam latex, the limbs have armature wire in them and they are cast of a semi-rigid foam.

Hey, Mr. Beefy, cleat the shot...

Mr. Beefy is hard at work coating the legs with a nasty nasty chemical.
Don't miss the nasty dangerous chemical one bit.

Mr Beefy is living the dream... painting monster legs with a shiny coat of goo...

It should be noted that this creature was mostly CG in the episode. The good folks at Zoic scanned it and made CG models and handled all the animation. We built the practical side of things for all the close ups.

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website:

No comments:

Post a Comment