There’s an interesting question that high-profile films and television series face with the computer technology of today. With the opportunity to do everything digitally, why would you ever afford the time, risk and cost of making practical effects? Barrie Gower, a seasoned prosthetic designer since 1996, seemingly has found an answer to this question in his incredible body of work… It’s that they’re just plain cool, and the result is 100% worth the effort.
If you’re anxiously waiting to see what the infected will look like in HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation – at the runner, stalker, clicker, and bloater stages – have a little faith, because it’s in the best hands imaginable. BGFX Ltd., founded by Barrie Gower and his wife Sarah in 2010, is an award-winning makeup effects company based in southeast London with a reputation that truly proceeds it. BGFC Ltd. can quite literally do it all from aging effects to creating realistic likenesses with human bodies and any creature you can possibly imagine.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of projects that the team at BGFX have lent their twisted minds to:
- The Green Knight
- Life of Pi
- The Dark Knight
- Shaun of the Dead
- Saving Private Ryan
- No Time To Die
- Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
- The Iron Lady
- Harry Potter
- Star Wars
- Game of Thrones
- Dr Who
- Band of Brothers
- Stranger Things
It truly is an incredible process that the team undertake. They observe everything from various animal wildlife to violent imagery in order to draw inspiration and create a very specific shade of paint. Then they will make prosthetics that the actor can see, talk, hear, eat, go to the toilet, and move around in.
In the case of Stranger Things, Vecna actor Jamie Campbell Bower would then sit in a makeup chair for eight and a hours having 10-15 kgs of rubber attached to his head and shoulder with adhesive glue.
What Gower’s most recent work on Stranger Things has shown us, however, is that the aforementioned CGI vs practical effects debate really needn’t be a debate at all. Throughout the lengthy development process of creating the prosthetics for Vecna, the team closely collaborated with the VFX guys that would later augment his appearance digitally.
Having a tangible creature on set and then taking it to impossible heights with CGI only elevates both artforms.
With one just one bloke leading a team that’s responsible for this kind of resume, it’s worth looking closer at and admiring the work of Barrie Gower next time you watch any of the above. Knowing the painstaking process behind it all makes this all the more inspiring. And if you want visual context, just watch the video below which shows you how the Stranger Things‘ SFX artists created Vecna.