Tag: Transformation

Standard Thompson music video “Fireworks”: female werewolves want more than a daisy on the first date

[insert lame joke about “dinner and a date” here]

Lovely cinematography and good solid rock music by a group of guys who all look like they call their mothers at least once a week. I wish they would have shown more than a glimpse of the werewolf costume, though. It looked pretty good, at least from the shoulders up.

Hat tip: lessthanhuman

“Wolf Boy”, the 99¢ 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up turn-into-a-werewolf iPhone app

Get it here. If the post title doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, here’s some text cribbed from the Touch Arcade review (which you should read in its entirety):

Wolf Boy is a single plane side-scrolling brawler similar to games like Zombieville USA and Twin Blades. The actual gameplay is rather simplistic, but it features a really appealing art style and best of all it allows you to change from a cute (albeit angry) little boy into a ferocious werewolf to dispatch the many enemies in the game.

The review (and some of the customer comments) make it sound like the game’s simple (and somewhat repetitive) mechanic is compensated for by the graphics, the upgrade system (improve your “boy” and “werewolf” stats independent of each other) and the pure fun of turning into a werewolf to destroy everything on the screen. Plus, it’s a dollar. A dollar. I just paid more than that for a can of Fresca. If it amuses you for five minutes it’s probably paid for itself. I know if I had an iPhone or an iPod Touch (or yes, an iPad) I wouldn’t be writing this post right now… I’d be upgrading my werewolf’s Transformation Time stat.

Hat tip: ArcLight

“Lone Wolf”, the Hand-Drawn Post-Apocalyptic Werewolf Brawler

Brad Nelson’s making a video game, and it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. I’ll let him explain it:

Lone Wolf is an upcoming beat-em up RPG featuring a martial artist who stumbles across a secret in a post apocalyptic wasteland that allows him to change into a werewolf.  The gameplay is an homage to the late 80’s and early 90’s beat-em up games and boasts high resolution comic book style hand drawn character animations set in a 3D environment.

This game looks like a labour of love, and sort of reminds me of a cross between Altered Beast and the drawings in the margins of my 11th grade math notes (in a good way). Lone Wolf has been under steady development since 2005, with much of that work apparently going into the elaborate combat and transformation animations of the player character. This is the Internet so people are going to bitch about the fact that all the enemies look the same, but when you’re building a Flash-based game engine from scratch, you’ve got to prioritize the development path. Presumably (hopefully!) there will be some more variety in the enemies and terrain by the time the game’s out.

If you’d like to encourage Brad’s efforts you can pre-order the game for $19.99 (or $7.99 for the next two days) and get access to betas and other material.

Are Werewolves Scarier When We Don’t See Them? Or, “A Werewolf in the Mind is Worth Two on the Screen”

I was recently directed to “Wolfman versus Werewolf“, an entry in Roger Ebert’s “Our far-flung correspondents” feature. Gerardo Valero writes what is ostensibly a review of “An American Werewolf in London” (AWIL), but he touches on a larger (and to me, more interesting) conversation about the potency of fear when its subject is imagined or unseen. Valero says that “Landis directs this film [AWIL] with a clear awareness that the things that scare us the most, reside in our imaginations, never just on the screen.” I agree that keeping werewolf David (mostly) hidden from view after his transformation was the right call– it allows the special effects to shine without revealing any zippers, and it makes for a better story. In fact, I think virtually every werewolf movie released since AWIL could have been improved if their makers had handled the screen presence of their lycanthropes in the same way.

First, consider the state of special effects in 1981. Yes, the effects work done by Rick Baker and his crew were so far ahead of their time that they inspired a new awards category at the Oscars. But not being able to see into the future, and with only $10 million to spend on the entire production, Landis had to assume that even Baker’s most realistic efforts to create a fully transformed werewolf, if shown full-body and in decent lighting, would have been read by the audience as “dude in a suit”. Instead of fear, the audience’s reaction would become one of artistic / technical appraisal, and it’s difficult to be scared of a monster when you’re looking for its zippers or rubber claws (or CG equivalents like bad compositing or flat textures).

The decision to limit the werewolf’s screen presence isn’t merely practical. Like Valero says, it’s all about the imagination. By showing only brief closeups and the occasional half-body tracking shot of werewolf David, the AWIL audience gains just enough exposure to trigger the mind into creating something far more ferocious than a costumed actor or an animated prop could represent. This is why even the most amazing combinations of CG and physical effects still fall flat today. Baker’s work on the recent “Wolfman” remake, for example, was amazingly, startlingly detailed… but was it scary? The survey says “no“. Everyone who was even remotely interested in the film knew what the Wolfman looked like well before the film came out, and even those who avoided spoilers got to see the beast in full detail before the first hour of the film was up. The initial shock at the vivid detail wears away, and there’s no suspense anymore, no mystery or fear of the unknown. Those are potent elements of fear, and they are easily lost when too much light is shed on the monster.

Every film tries to tell a story, and most werewolf movies are meant to be horror stories. Sadly, rather than being truly horrific, werewolf movies tend to fall into the schlocky domain of the “creature feature”, in which audience-avatar protagonists are menaced by a monstrous presence. In these movies the monster is only a character insofar as it possesses frightening qualities to highlight its “otherness” and status as a threat. The audience wants a clear look at the foe before it’s destroyed; otherwise there’s no payoff or gratification. Zombies, for example, are usually shown in exquisitely gory detail because there’s nothing there with which to empathize. Even if you can see the humans they once were, zombies aren’t people; they’re merely monsters, and are designed to eat housewives and businessmen until they’re destroyed by flame or a 12-gauge blast. The monsters in creature features might be frightening, but as characters they’re no more engaging than the interchangeable aliens foes in Space Invaders. We can’t identify with them, nor do we want to.

Then there’s David, the protagonist of AWIL. We spend a lot of time getting to know David as a character before the appearance of the werewolf. Much of that getting-to-know-you time is spent with the audience well aware of what’s to come, and we empathize with him. He talks with his friend Jack, he canoodles with a pretty nurse, he loafs around a London flat reading books and watching television… and then the moon rises, Rick Baker works his magic, and David becomes the creature we’re meant to fear.

And we do fear it, but why? How is this scenario more horrific than what Lawrence Talbot or Ginger Fitzgerald faced? Like Valero, I think the answer lies in how the werewolf is portrayed: as a shadowy and unknowable presence, seen only in glimpses and heard as menacing sounds from the dark. Just as David has no memory of what he becomes or what he does while in his bestial form, the audience doesn’t really know what the werewolf looks like, so has no way to associate the monster with the man it used to be. This underscores David’s (and therefore the audience’s) horror of the “other” he becomes. Other than the traumatic transformation scene there’s no screen-based connection between David and the werewolf; to the viewer, David is not just transformed but utterly annihilated. Without clear visuals of the beast he becomes, there’s no easy way to equate the likable mop-haired American with the glimpses of fangs and yellow eyes his victims see before they die. Yet we know it’s him, because our minds tell us so, and from that knowledge and our own empathy for the character, a stronger horror is born than that which is derived from an overexposure to props and effects.

What if Wes Craven’s “Cursed” had been filmed with these points in mind? How about any of the “Howling” sequels, or even the dire non-sequel “An American Werewolf in Paris“? No amount of editing or tweaking would turn these into Oscar material, but I think each one could have been more interesting and enjoyable (and less embarrassing to werewolf fans) if the filmmakers had left their werewolves in the shadows like Landis did with AWIL. By focusing on what makes the werewolf a genuinely frightening creature instead of stretching the effects budget in an effort to shock and amaze, I think the the intrepid filmmaker might actually be able to produce a werewolf film worth watching.

“The Wrong Night in Texas” – a Straight-Up Horror Graphic Novel by Joshua Boulet

I got an email from Joshua Boulet the other day; he wanted to tell me about a 115-page graphic novel he spent 5 years creating. It’s called “The Wrong Night in Texas” and is available directly from the man himself for $10 + $5 shipping. Over the course of the 10-page preview I saw a tornado, a naked guy covered in carved-in pentagrams, a well-executed three-and-a-half page transformation scene and the most gruesomely excellent eyeball-removal ever (“SLAP”). I’m going to try to obtain a copy so I can check out the other 105 pages, but I have a good feeling about it, especially after looking at some of Joshua’s other endeavours.

You Wish This Was You: Applying a Werewolf Facial Prosthetic

UK special effects & creature company Nimba Creations have posted a how-to video featuring the application, painting and fur-ing of their werewolf prosthetic. I don’t usually have the patience to sit through a 7-minute Youtube video, but this was quite interesting– it was possible to watch the model slowly transforming throughout the process. The laying of the hair (sounds like an arcane ritual, doesn’t it?) was particularly cool. Check it out, and if you fancy trying it yourself, you can buy the supplies directly from Nimba.

The Design, Tech, Execution & Politics of “The Wolfman” Transformation Scenes

Trusty Werewolf News friend ArcLight sent me a link to this fascinating CGSociety feature article about all of the CG work (and politics) that went into the transformation scenes featured in “The Wolfman“. The article includes extensive comments by Rick Baker (who, as you probably know, designed the Wolfman’s look and the practical makeup effects) and Adam Valdez (the Visual Effects Supervisor at Moving Picture Company, the group that did the CG work). Here are some choice excerpts:

Drawing on his years of experience and success to create a character he had loved since he was a boy, Baker requested “a couple of weeks to do some designs, a range between man and wolf. I did a number of Photoshop images and ZBrush sculptures ranging between Del Toro and a wolf. In other words, if man was one and wolf was ten, was the Wolfman a five, or perhaps an eight? Well upon viewing my designs they said it wasn’t anywhere in that range.” Baker was asked to do additional concepts showing steps within that range to narrow down the final design. This happened repeatedly until the point where Baker told them there simply wasn’t an in-between left.

Nothing like design-by-committee to ruin a project!

[Says Baker:] “I had a great time working with the folks at Digital Domain on the CG Benjamin Button character, I would have liked to have contributed the same way on this film.” One scene that he felt could have worked particularly well using animatronics and makeup was the scene where Del Toro is strapped to a chair surrounded by doctors, since the chair offered plenty of space to hide the hardware and it would have been easy to digitally remove any visible mechanics.”

That’s probably my favourite scene in the movie, and it blows my mind to imagine how much better it might have been if Baker had been able to work his magic.

Johnston wanted to see how the transitions would look in action, so animators were given rigs that could do rough deformation and transformation work. [Says Valdez:] “In the middle of that we had to start over, because Joe wasn’t happy with what he was getting. There were a few rounds of discussion about whether or not Benicio Del Toro, who played the Lawrence aka Wolfman, should turn into something else on the way to becoming the Wolfman, so rather than traditional close-ups of bones stretching and hair sprouting he might turn into something resembling an almost fetal orc-like creature.”

I wonder if that “orc-like” concept was used for the creature that appears in some of the movie’s dream / hallucination scenes.

There’s a ton of down-and-dirty CG modeling talk near the end of the article, so if Maya and ZBrush are your thing, you might want to get a napkin ready to mop up the drool. Now stop reading this post and read the article!

From the Makers of “3 Wolf Moon”: “3 Werewolf Moon” & 2 Other Werewolf T-Shirts

If you’re the sort of person who knows why a t-shirt with some airbrushed wolves on it is hilarious, get ready. Just get ready. The Mountain, creators of the 3 Wolf Moon shirt, have added werewolves to their repertoire of epically airbrushed body coverings. For some reason it’s really difficult to find these shirts on their web site, but if you have patience (and Flash) you can browse the catalog (page 174) and find three new entries in their “Skulbone” imprint: 3 Werewolf Moon, Transformation and Werewolf Moon (all pictured below). Only 3 Werewolf Moon is available online, courtesy of Amazon, but the other two are undoubtedly waiting for you at an authorized The Mountain retailer near you. I would wear the Transformation shirt, and I would only be a little ironic about it. I can admit this.

Thanks to Goldenwolf for letting me know about all three shirts and providing the image!

Six Photos of Being Human’s George in Werewolf Form

George fans rejoice! Here are some new photos of your favourite Being Human werewolf, taken from episodes 1 and 4 of Series 2. Click for larger versions.

Kenshiro Suzuki Will School You

If you dug Kenshiro Suzuki’s awesome four-stage werewolf transformation sculpture, I strongly suggest you check out the four making-of videos he’s posted on his YouTube channel. Here’s one of them for your immediate viewing pleasure!