Sep 23 2013

Zombie Rod Puppet

Posted by Chris

Zombie Rod Puppet

We were recently tasked with constructing a zombie torso rod puppet for a film project, and  as with most of our projects we wanted to share the creation process with you.  (Especially with Halloween right around the corner)  This is more of an overview of the creation process than a tutorial, but please feel free to post any questions below. 

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Aug 30 2012

Zombie Rat

Posted by Chris

We were recently given an interesting challenge:  Create a rat prop that has basic articulation, can be ripped apart at the midline, and would look realistic on a dimly lit set while being devoured by a hungry zombie.  Normally this would be an easy task:  Sculpt the rat, make some molds, cast the rat, build an armature, articulate it, and add the finishing touches (hair, teeth, claws, etc).  The challenge was that we had less than 3 days, working only 2-3 hours a night due to our existing workload.  We love a good challenge!

 

The Sculpt

The clay we used For this project was Chavant NSP soft. This softer clay does not hold a lot of detail, but allows for quick sculpting of a basic form. Because time would not allow for great detail, we went for speed. The body and head were sculpted first, and the ears, feet, and tail were added later.

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Jul 2 2012

Zombie Tongue

Posted by Chris

As some of you may know, we are in the process of creating a zombie animatronic for an upcoming zombie film.  This weekend we kicked off construction by sculpting a zombie tongue in Chavant NSP clay and pouring up a basic plaster box mold.  This week we should run the first casting of the tongue in a special blend of latex.  Once the latex tongue has been cast, it will be servo articulated and ready for installment in the final animatronic.  Here are some photos of the initial sculpt.

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Jun 28 2012

Zombies!

Posted by Chris

We were recently on the set of a zombie film doing special effects makeup on several characters.  This post will show some behind the scenes photos we took while on set, and briefly cover the makeup application for one character.

Here is a quick look at our makeup kit all laid out at the start of day 1.  Things will not be this organized again until the start of day 2.  If you have any questions about anything you see in this kit, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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Jun 13 2012

Evil Clown Golf Cart Project

Posted by Chris

As those of you who follow us on Facebook may know, we recently purchased a golf cart from Disneyland in a Cast Member auction.  Our plan is to convert the vehicle into a fun art car that can be used at public events.

Here is our first draft of the “Evil Clown Ice Cream Truck” (proper name to come later.  Suggestions welcome!) conceptual design.  This design would have outward facing bench seats on either side in the back, fluorescent fur upholstered interior, internal black lights, color cycling lights under the vehicle, a sound system for music, and a PA system for sound effects and evil ice cream truck tunes. 

We also plan to eventually put a fire-breathing clown head on the roof, but that will be a later addition.

What else do you think we should add?

Stay tuned for further updates on this project, and please let us know what you think!


Apr 5 2012

Ghost Steps – Ghost footprint projection

Posted by Chris

Ghost Steps

Today we have released the Beta version of “Ghost Steps,” a web-based application that will allow you to create sequences of ghostly footprints that can be projected on any surface.

With this application you can have a ghostly apparition walk up your wall and across the ceiling, or wind through your creepy graveyard scene.  Once your projector is setup you can quickly plot where the ghost will walk.   You can even have the footprints move around obstacles, or start and end at specific landmarks.

A full overview of this application’s controls and interface can be found here.

Many of the features we previously planned on adding (saving and loading sequences, triggering the sequence via key-press or a timer, custom colors, and different footprint styles) have already been added.  We will continue to update this application with bug fixes and new features based on your input.

This application is still in Beta, and its functionality will continue to expand based on our testing and guest feedback.

 Please let us know what you think!

 

Creative Commons License
Ghost Steps by Vex FX is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.vexfx.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained by contacting us at http://www.vexfx.com/contact/.


Mar 13 2012

Vex FX Logowear Now Available

Posted by Chris

Vex FX Logowear

We are now offering Vex FX logowear in a variety of products and designs.  Our current designs include: Full Color print, Glow in the Dark flex print, and Neon Green flex print.

The logo that is being used for the “Glow in the Dark” and “Neon Green” designs can also be printed in other colors and styles including: fuzzy flocking, metallic colors, and glitter.  (upon request)

If you don’t see a product style or color you like, let us know and we can easily add more options!


Mar 1 2012

Skull Corpsing Tutorial

Posted by Chris

Corpsed Skulls

Corpsing is a technique for transforming a skeleton or skull prop into a corpse by adding tissue, ligaments, veins, or other anatomical details. This tutorial will cover some of the basic techniques we used when corpsing several skulls for one of our projects.

Concept Design:

First you need to decide what style of corpsed prop you want to create. This usually depends on cause of death, timeline, and environmental conditions. A skull that has been soaking in a swamp for 3 months will look quite a bit different than one that has been mummifying in a desert for 20 years. Once you have picked a basic style you can determine color pallet, textures and materials.

 

Gathering the Materials:

The materials you will need depend on the style of the prop you will be creating. This example will cover a basic skull in the mid-to-late stages of decomposition, with teeth and a single eye.

Materials list:

  • Model skull – The skulls used in this tutorial are the Lindberg pirate skull model
  • Acrylic denture teeth
  • Glass or plastic taxidermy eye – optional
  • Cotton balls – the type that can be unwrapped
  • Cyanoacrylate glue – AKA Super glue, Zap-a-Gap, etc.
  • Tissue paper / Paper towels
  • Liquid latex
  • Acrylic paints
  • Chip brushes
  • Detail brushes
  • Sculpting tool, pallet knife, or popsicle stick.
  • Foam makeup sponges
  • Sandpaper
  • Hand-held rotary tool- Dremel tool
  • 2 part “5 minute” epoxy – I suggest a brand that dries clear
  • Safety glasses

 

Step 1: Prepping the model

The preparation phase will differ from model to model. This example is based on the Lindberg pirate skull model, which comes in several pieces.

Much like anatomical skull models that are used for education, the Lindberg skull comes with a removable top and detailed cranial cavity. Because we are building an intact skull, we will need to glue the top portion of the skull down. Cyanoacrylate glue is ideal for this task. Lightly coat both surfaces and clamp them together for 5-10 minutes. If you do not have proper clamps for this step, you can manually press the two parts together for a few minutes.

While the top portion of the skull sets, you can glue the nasal bone in place.

When the Lindberg model is cast, a number of seam lines are formed on the surface. These lines run along the zygomatic bone (cheek bone) and along the outer edges of the jaw. Take a medium grit sandpaper or file and remove these lines, as well as any seam lines that are visible where the top of the skull was attached.

 

Step 2: Prepping the teeth

To insert the acrylic denture teeth, you will need to take a hand-held rotary tool and drill out sockets for each tooth. Even if you plan on leaving a few teeth out, drill out each socket so the jaw will appear more natural.  Make sure you wear proper eye protection while using a rotary tool.

Before gluing the teeth in place, roughen the base of each tooth with sandpaper. This will help ensure a strong bond.

You can use a cyanoacrylate glue to attach the teeth, but for this step I prefer a 5-minute epoxy. As the epoxy cures, you can adjust the alignment of the teeth to create what ever effect you desire. You may want an accurate/natural bite pattern where each tooth lines up properly, or you may want to have some teeth missing or at odd angles.

Before the epoxy fully cures you can texture the surface of any exposed epoxy by blotting it with a paper towel. This will create a more organic look by roughening the surface and embedding small fibers.

Once the epoxy has cured, you can use a grinding tool to chip and wear away the teeth for the appearance of an aged skull.  You can also drill into the teeth to create cavities. 

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Feb 22 2012

Plague Doctor Mask Tutorial

Posted by Chris

Plague Doctor Mask

One of our projects for 2011 was a custom Plague Doctor mask.  Because we have received so many questions about the construction of this mask, we have decided to release a tutorial that covers the basic steps for creating such a mask.

Pre-Construction: Prototype & Template

When starting a new mask, we first need to know the basic dimensions of the actor’s head. Normally, a life cast of the actor would be used during this process so the final product would be a perfect fit. In this case, we constructed a simple head form based on a series of measurements of the actor’s head.

On top of this head form, we constructed a paper prototype of the mask. During this process, the prototype is trimmed and shaped to give both the desired appearance and a snug fit to the head form.

 

Construction Phase 1: Cutting & Stitching the Material

Once the prototype is finished, it is flattened and cut into templates for the various sections of the mask.  The resulting template sections are traced onto the mask material and cut out.

While this mask is intended to look like aged leather, we constructed it out of a light-weight foam material that is both easy to work with and comfortable for the actor.  This foam material is readily available in 12″x18″ sheets in a variety of colors at most hobby and crafting stores.  The material is given the appearance of aged leather with washes of acrylic paint.

After the individual pieces for the mask base have been cut out, we stitched them together.  First, the pieces were temporarily glued together using hot glue.  Once the pieces were assembled, a soldering iron was used to punch holes along the seams for stitching.  This method melts and hardens the foam where each stitch will be placed.  The hardened material functions like a grommet to add strength/tear resistance, and adds to the aged look.

Next, a heavy gauge sewing needle was used to stitch up the seams with hemp twine.  Hemp was selected for its strength, natural appearance, and ability to easily take acrylic washes for aging.

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Feb 14 2012

VexFX.com is now live!

Posted by Chris

VexFX.com

It is with great pleasure that I announce the official launch of VexFX.com.

After months of quietly coding and designing, VexFX.com is finally ready to be seen by the world.  Please feel free to comment below and let us know what you think.

Now that we have finished building the site, we can focus our efforts on generating more content and building our product base, so stay tuned for some exciting updates!

 

/Chris


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