When I think about you I cut myself

Okay, the title sounds a bit emo. This post is actually concerning practical make-up effects and digital make-up effects.

There are several shots in The Ocean that require a knife to break the skin, either by slicing, cutting or stabbing. While a practical effect with a prosthetic, theatrical blood and skin-like latex would be ideal, taking into consideration the money (limited budget vs number of effect shots), resources (make-up artist skill and equipment), location (on a raft 30 ft offshore) and time (only five on-location days) required, I may not be able to achieve the desired shots, or at least make them look as perfect as I need them to. There will be limited time to test and prepare the effects on-location, and the cost of screwing it up would be great.

I still intend to use cosmetic effects for the gory stuff, but I am leaning towards a digital process for the practical effects. By that I mean when you see the knife break the skin, it will be a digital effect. But the resulting wound and blood will be cosmetic.

Trust me, I would rather do every effect practically, and in-camera. But there’s that nagging budget and time consideration.

After conducting two tests (see video above) I’m confident that the digital effect will look realistic enough to use. After shooting the plate, I exported each frame as a JPG, stacked them into one project in Photoshop and began editing. First I created the piece of skin layer, then manipulated its form as the knife passed underneath. Next I created the under-skin fleshy bit, starting from the last frame, and erasing it in reverse order. Some blood smudging, smearing and dripping was then added, frame-by-frame.

With more precision and effort, I believe the effect will look very convincing, especially as it will be reinforced by a cosmetic effect immediately afterwards. As for the budget and time situation — I am a graphic designer, so I will be producing the effect myself, in post through Photoshop, when time is plentiful.

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