Hollywood, CA & Vancouver, BC, Dec. 15, 2008 — Award Winning special character makeup FX artist Todd Masters and his special effects company MastersFX, a leading Hollywood â€œCreature FX Studio,â€? have created unique, Creature and Character FX for the FOX feature film â€œThe Day the Earth Stood Still,â€? which opened this weekend at # 1 at the boxoffice, with $ 31 million. These Creature FX had to be designed to integrate seamlessly within the filmâ€™s digital visual effects, requiring work on a global scale.
The original 1951, Robert Wise-directed film â€œThe Day the Earth Stood Still,â€? followed a friendly alien, Klaatu, (Michael Renni,) who travels to Earth aboard a flying saucer, accompanied by his giant robot companion â€œGort.â€? The movie carried with it a message of peace and anti-nuclear-proliferation. In FOXâ€™s 2008 remake, the film tells a revised storyline that exchanges the originalâ€™s anti-nuke theme for an environmental one.
In the new film, which opened on Dec 12, Keanu Reeves portrays â€œKlaatu,â€? an alien whose Earthly arrival triggers a global upheaval. Todd Masters and his company MastersFX, created the Creature FX and makeup FX for this contemporary reinvention. MastersFX had to create creature effects that would blend seamlessly with many of the filmâ€™s Visual (digital) FX, which were produced by various companies around the globe (including New Zealand based Weta Digital.) At one point in the new film, Klaatu gets shot by a frightened soldier standing near the alienâ€™s landing site. After being rushed to a nearby hospital, Klaatuâ€™s gunshot wound causes this alien character to reveal a more human like form. Todd Masters and MastersFX created the practical character FX of this alien form of Klaatu.
Through the combination of unique techniques and materials, the MatersFX team causes the â€œouter formâ€? of Klaatu to â€œdissolve on camera,â€? as part of the alienâ€™s form reveals a more passive character beneath. The newborn Klaatu, a CG version of Keanu Reeves, appears during his development from a that of a â€œlightâ€? creature to that of a â€œphysicalâ€? creature.
Todd Masters explains, â€œOur performer for this character was one of our companyâ€™s LA-based Creature FX artists, Sam Polin, who had to be completely sealed into a head that had no eyes, mouth or any other facial features. We had to feed him oxygen and audio. Fortunately, since he was key in building the Character FX itself, he knew what he was in for!â€?
Masters adds, â€œOur companyâ€™s Bernhard Eichholz and Dan Rebert supervised the build, creating it ou of an amalgam of materials, including clear fiberglass for the head shell. The suit featured gill-like structures that opened and closed via bladders. These worked in conjunction with lung bladders in the torso. The neck gills and the outer surface of the suit were made of silicone to keep them translucent and fleshy.â€?
Masters further explains, â€œKlaatuâ€™s body disintegrates and falls away in pieces. We created gelatinous pieces for insert shots of the self-destructing suit. We never see the whole body dissolving at once, but we do see inserts of the dissolving torso and head and other little pieces. We made those pieces mostly of Thermal-Gel. They were cast hollow and injected with a specially formulated thick slime we developed for the film â€˜Slither.â€™ This gave it a very natural weight when dissolving. The intrinsically colored translucent gel dissolves nicely if you spray certain chemicals on it.â€?
Founded in 1987 by Emmy Award winner Todd Masters, MastersFX is a full-service Character Effects company headquartered in Arleta, CA, with an additional studio in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
The company has designed, created and produced prosthetics, animatronics, and makeup effects for hundreds of motion pictures, television programs, and commercials. The latest projects from MastersFX include â€œThe Day the Earth Stood Still,â€? â€œSanctuary,â€? HBOâ€™s â€œTrue Blood,â€? and â€œThe Haunting in Connecticut,â€? which join on-going company TV projects â€œStargate Atlantis,â€? â€œDexter,â€? and â€œEureka.â€? Among the companyâ€™s previous credits are character effects contributions to â€œStar Trek: First Contact,â€? â€œTales from the Crypt,â€? â€œNightmare on Elm Street 5,â€? â€œThe Horse Whisperer,â€? â€œSlither,â€? â€œSnakes on a Plane,â€? â€œPredator,â€? â€œPoltergeist II,â€? â€œBuffy the Vampire Slayer,â€? â€œLook Whoâ€™s Talking,â€? â€œMortal Kombat,â€? â€œCarnivale,â€? â€œStargate,â€? and many more.
MastersFX designed, created and produced prosthetics and makeup effects for all five seasons of the hit HBO series â€œSix Feet Under.â€? Todd Masters won an Emmy Award in 2003 for the 2001/2002 Season of â€œSix Feet Underâ€? in the category, â€œBest Special Effects Makeup.â€? MastersFX is also the winner of the 2006 â€œSaturn Awardâ€? for â€œBest MakeUp FXâ€? for its work on the film â€œSlither.â€? MastersFXâ€™s Arelta, CA office can be contacted by phone at 818/834-3000. The web is www.mastersfx.com