Special Effects Makeup

The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.
The Amazing Spider Man 2.
Lone Survivor. 

Can you think of one thing that these three films have in common? Besides being award-winning motion pictures, of course. Assuming that you have seen the movies listed above – even if you have only seen one of the three – you can probably recall that each of the leading characters had some sort of drastic alteration to their look. In The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe it was the actors, of characters found within The Wardrobe, who looked more like animals than humans. In The Amazing Spider Man 2, it was the superhuman, comic-book-inspired characters. In Lone Survivor, it was the — falsified — intense battle wounds that could even fool medical experts watching the film.

Woman looking like an elf

It is no secret that actors and actresses, working on just about any film set, spend quite a bit of time in the makeup chair before filming. However, there is a lucky few who have the honor of getting their makeup done by the talented artists of KNB EFX GROUP, inc.

While you may not have heard of KNB EFX GROUP, inc., or the company’s owners and hardest workers, Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero, there is no doubt that you haven’t seen the astonishing special effects makeup that these men have done. Since founding KNB in 1988, the guys have turned their business into a makeup effects powerhouse in Hollywood. Berger and Nicotero found their niche in the Avant Garde makeup industry by focusing on character prosthetics, animatronics, creature creation and replica animals. Today, the guys of KNB have worked on over eight hundred (and counting) feature films and television shows! In addition to the titles above, KNB worked on the actors of Inglorious Bastards, Hitchcock, Men In Black, Transformers, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and more!

So how exactly do they make all this magic happen? Mike McCarty, one of KNB’s on-set supervisors for Horns, starring Daniel Radcliffe, explains the process of giving Radcliffe realistic looking horns, that needed to take quite a beating in the filming process. McCarty explains that the initial sculpting phase involved looking at massive amounts of natural horns as a reference for the design. Once they got the design down, the horns were then sculpted using a dental acrylic. They then hid a wire rig in Radcliffe’s hair, and secured it with lots of non-visible clips. To make the horns look less like dressup headband, they used a prosthetic to blend the acrylic horns with his skin and hair. When Radcliffe was in full demon form, he bore a full-body suite that the KNB team created from latex and foam. To create the harsh, burned look of skin, the KNB team integrated facial and hand skin segments. In addition, Radcliffe wore a helmet covered with a wig and a larger set of horns.

Of course, reading about the process does not do justice to the work that KNB puts into each and every one of their projects. In a world where computers can do just about anything for us, especially in the film industry, it is refreshing to know that the best special effects makeup is done be a team dedicated to their art.

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