Make up or CGI?


Hello guys,I’m writing a dissertation about Make up and CGI at the moment.I want to compare them and find out which one is better for make a film especially a special effect film,and if the make up will be take over by CGI?

At the moment,I just know a few about these stuff,like make up is not easy for the actor,they always need use ages to dress up and it’s not comfortable as well.But CGI cant do every thing,most of time it will use for wide shot for like a thousand ppl’s battle…etc.

And another key for compare these two tool for film making is the budget.Which will cost less in film and which will waste money?I know these questions r a bit stupid,but sometimes some accident will happen and make up stuff will get damage…etc.

Cause I cant find much of information about these,especially about the budget problem,so can anyone have work in a film have the experience give me a general idea of which will be use more in a film?And how about the budget control?

ps:I dont know if I did this right-I put animatronic and make up together,cause i think that they both have the similar point,and they both are important tool for make a charactor in film except CGI.
And,I dont know if I said this right,but I think it will happen,it’s the make up and animatronic will be take over by CGI later…and I think I will put this conclusion in my dissertation.
Please give me some advise…I m so confused…

Thank you guys,Happy new year~!
btw:I dont know if i post this in right place,so i post another one in General Discussion forum…T_T


wow, well that’s the million dollar questions isn’t it? about as big of question is, 2d or 3d cartoons better?

I don’t believe all actors dislike makeup, sure it takes time and may be unfomfortable, but I have seen where some like being “someone” else not only in acting but also physically. Some actors, say like for a Star Trek series type show may be putting on appliances and makeup for years, 20 some episodes a year, 5 days a week. Look at Michael Dorn, Warf from ST:TNG.

Are you looking for information specifics on wheter to use makeup of CGI for HUMAN actors, or anything? By anything I mean the comparision of say puppet Yoda from the original Star Wars or the full CGI Yoda from SW:EP2. Anything would include would you build a robot for Gollum or do it with CG. None HUMAN characters.

I don’t know exact budgets, but I’m pretty sure CG will cost WAY more than makeup effects (at this time) for say changing an actor into an old person. I have some video tutorials from that show how a good makeup effects artist can take a face cast, create a blank, scultp on top of it, create the appliances, paint them and apply them in a week or less (depending on what needs to be done and quality level) For CG the modeling and rigging alone on just a FACE is going to take while. Especially if you want a PHOTO REAL human with muscle simulations, skin layers, experession, etc. That doesn’t include animation, lighting, rendering, composisting compared to an actor, on set, with a mask, and when you yell cut, it’s done wtih.

I’m sure it took months and months for ILM to do 25 baby Sunny shots in Lemony Snicket. Originally they had near 100 shots, but realized the twin babies playing Sunny could do most of the shots themselves. check out this quaters magazine, Issue 100 for more on Sincket. plus look how many worked on just these 25 baby shots

And if you are doing digital appliances for a actor you need to either scan him or take a head cast, scuplt on that then scan that into the computer. There are good examples of this from ILM for the Mummy and Terminator 3. Tracking and removing parts of the actors face and body, replacing that with a digital form that couldn’t be humanly possible. This goes back a ways though, I remember stuff from Death Becomes Her when Meryl Streep breaks her neck falling down the stars, but gets up and her head is on backwords until she twist it back around. They used bluescreen elements and some early CG effects. But the actors still have to wear some sort of makeup or appliance with tracking marks on it.

This months Computer Graphics World has an interesting article on recreating a documentary. I know, it sounds weird but they are doing a documentary about WW2 with digital recreations of people like Roosevelt, Churchill, and Hitler. Using look alike actors wtih tracking markers and these complex head gear tracking systems (something like the head gear worn when you get braces with little balls all over it) and using that data to control the digital version of the original historic figures to composiste back over the look a like actors.

Obviously this all depends on one big thing. How good do you want the final effect to be? I’m sure it cost a lot more for ILM or WETA to do something state of the art than a small garage studio to crank out something in a week for a TV show. I worked a while ago on a kids cartoon video and I know that budget, and we were doing it el cheapo, was hundreds of thousands for a 30minute video. And that wasn’t anything on the level of good visual effects seen in your average effects movie. It was pretty low quality stuff.

Also just take the look at a modern massive effects movie such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. They still use models and some pratical effets, especially for large sets and structures. It’s just cheaper to do it, for now. I think some day, with the way computers get faster and faster and faster, one day you could realtime photo real stuff right on the set as the actors walk around on greenscreen. hmmm maybe one day they will act in a hologram :slight_smile:


PS you may really want to pick up that #100 Cinefex as it has a giant round table discussion (go here for a list of all the artist) with doezen of makeup and CG artist like Rick Baker and Stan Winston, with some of the questions being related to what you want to know.


The answer depends on what type of makeup you mean. For example, if you mean old age makeup, such as for Salieri in Amadeus, then makeup is the way to go in terms of budget and results. But if you mean creature makeup, like perhaps a werewolf, then CG might be a better choice (still, it depends on the type of shots and the budget).

In my film, which had Sasquatch creatures, many of the shots were a guy in a suit but with a CG face. This was a very low budget production, and using CG (which I did myself, though a friend created the CG model) made it much more affordable and better looking. Setup and shooting was easy, because I didn’t have to use any tracking markers or a motion-control camera. It was actually pretty easy to do, and I wish I shot more stuff with the guy in the suit. You can see some of the shots in the trailer at the Flickerscope link below.



O_O Thanks a lot guys~!

I didnt expect i can recieve that lot in this post…you r so warm heart :stuck_out_tongue:

I know my question is a bit stupid,make up and CG have their own situation for use in films.But,is the budget of make up stuff will contain the damage or something?Like the film in Jurassic park3,the giant dinosaur have a shot in water,just in case,if the animatronic damaged,it will cost a lot more to fix it?cause they may send the whole thing back to the factory…and also,if the actor wear the made up suit fall down on the floor and the suit get damaged or the paint gone,how they fix it?

and I just wonder that if anyone have any make up’s timeline or some history stuff?cause i think it might be interesting for compare the history of make up and CG,and also compare some early day’s make up with modern make up,and animatronic as well.

I dont know if I say this right,actually i just guess:the develop of make up goes slowly in now a day?compare with the develop of CG,make up seems be catching up.

one more question,normally,what kind of material you use for the make up?like for make a skin of old man,or monster,you use different material?

Thanks a lot for reply~CHEERS~!



well if I remember right in first Jurassic Park they had slight issues with the T-REX getting wet. The main problem was as the rain soaked into it’s skin causing the skin to weigh more, so the motors stuttered with the extra weight. That caused the T-REX to jitter like a drug addict coming down. But it was easliy fixed by soaking up the water with towels. I think that originaly the T-Rex wasn’t suppose to be in water until Spielberg said, ha we should do it in rain, that would look cool. I’m sure on JP3 they used a water tight skin, and more powerful components and didn’t have those issues.

as you can see, these animatronics are not perfect, but also are not weak little things that break every five minutes like the shark from Jaws did. they use modern day robotics now that are going 24x7 in the car industry, or underwater oil work, or working with nuclear waste where you can’t afford breakdowns.

if something gets damaged the animatronics have their own pit crew on set usually. so if the paint rubs off they have a dino makeup artist to paint it back on, if it breaks a leg, they have an engineer to bolt it back on. usually they would supply extra pieces of skin in areas that may have extra wear and tear. this usually is all pre planned and expected for, so it’s all budgeted in.

I wouldn’t say that makeup has slowed down that much in development. I know they are using different adhesives now that can go on and come off easier. I remember something about using silicone, like that of a breast implant, to give the skin a more realistic look and feel. also they develope better ways to make the appliances and store them longer. I’m sure they are working on makeups and appliences that have layers of skin and allow light to pass through better, the same as with the big thing now in CG is SSS. Sub Scattering Surfaces.

take a look at or

if you goto stanwinston studio, they have his history timeline of his work.

As for animatronics, wow, they are using better motors and hydraulics now. It won’t be long till someone uses artificial muscle that is being developed by scientist for a animatronic character. Artificial muslce is a synthetic material that contracts when given an electronic pulse. I know that electronics are getting smaller, so they are squezing more into smaller places, that was a big point of the talking doll in The 6th Day. They had more than a dozen little servos in a child size head. The big thing with Terminator 3 was that the T1 was a fully remote robot with no wires running to it.

so you can see, up to the point that the last hold out makeup guy goes, oh man, I’m out of a job, it won’t stop.

michael JR.


Thanks upstairs answer my question,I have a new opinion of animatronic and make up now.:stuck_out_tongue:

havent got much time to look all the website you guys post here,but i have looked the trailer of fwtep post,it looks cool~!I wonder how you made the ape’s face and fix it with the suit?

I got the idea now,CG is a very good tool to make the image better,but it wont work(at least at the moment) without other tool’s help,like make up.

But I still need to find some argument that for the dissertation…a bit annoying…I wonder if the CG industry have impact the traditional film making industry(or traditional way of film making)?or most of the old film making facilities have been turn into can compost CG and make up?


you most definately need to go and get Issue #100 of Cinefex right now at your local book store, or order it online. about 12 to 15$(us) depening on where you get it

I think this will answer a look of your questions, as a good part of the interviews are about the changes CG has cause in the traditional creation of movies. How previs has helped or hurt making a movie. How a director can change his ideas afterwords, or worry about it before hand. How digital recreations of background and actors affects the process. I mean think about it; I don’t think, off the top of my head right now, that any movie made isn’t some way effected by the transition to a digital age. All movies have digital sound, most all movies are edited digital, all of them have digital titles and credits, and a lot of them are colorized afterwords. this is for movies that don’t even have visual effects in them. And then again, you may never know where an effect is, it could be a soda can in frame that later has to be changed or a cloudy sky that doesn’t fit the romantic mood the day of the shoot. That building there, does it exist as a whole, or just the first floor and the rest of the 10 stories above it is all digital. Things you may never see as an effect, yet affect the way traditinoal movies are created these days.

All this, at least I believe it is, comes from the introduction of CG effects. I guess when someone looked at a CG effect and said, wow, I can change this light color and my object changes color, wouldn’t it be neat if I could change a color on an object on film. How would I do that? Then you get the creation of software like Photoshop and film scanners. Now we can paint in or out something on film.

It kinda of pushes it around. I believe the first CG effect was the title to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 Vertigo the movie. It was a vector graphic vortex that was probably filmed off a computer display. I’m betting it was something a scientist was doing and someone thought it would be cool to put in a movie. Then you move onto something like Young Sherlock Holmes and the stained glass window knight. I’m sure they could have stopped motion that and did it in a traditional way, but someone said, hay lets try it with the computer, we can make it look like real glass. But they couldn’t animate it, so they filmed someone, and rotokeyed it by overlaying the animation ontop of the actor (brute force animation they called it). Well that’s the BASIC idea behind motion capture you see all the time today.

It’s a snow ball effect. Someone starts it rolling and it just keeps on going and going, getting bigger and bigger, then one day it will crash and it will start all over. Maybe then movies will be true 3D holograms or direct feeds to your brain, who knows. I mean did anyone expect to see TV shows for your cell phone a few years ago? I know I didn’t. And now they have them.

michael JR.

PS I’m sure fwtep will reply, so I will guess that they had a guy in a Sasquatch suit with just a fake mask on. The mask probably had white or some contrasting colored markers to help figure out the rotation and location of it’s head. The use those markers to align the CG Sasquatch head to the actor and use on set lighting reference to light the CG head. Then in composisting the would blend the CG head over top of the on set suit.

Everyone has their own idea how to do that. In a big budget Sasquatch movie they may have used a animatronic head for the close up shots, allowing them to actually chew on the actors, then use a digital Sasquatch for all the far shots. They also could have done all CG with only close ups where the actor touches the head with a puppet head. There are so many ways to do this stuff, that’s what makes it so much fun.

and I really liked some of the Sasquatch shots, very well done.


michaeljr vbmenu_register(“postmenu_1975457”, true); thanks a lot for your help,lol

I did bought a lot of cinefex b4,but havent got time to read it detaily,i just pick up what i interested to read…now i will read them again carefully,hehe

I will carefully read everything in this post by this weekend,and hopefully can find out more to write about in my dissertation…:stuck_out_tongue:



This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.