Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Hair and Makeup of The Hobbit: AEJ

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is just a touch over a week away from release. In a new article from Hero Complex, makeup and hair designer Peter King discusses the work that went into creating the distinctive looks for 13 dwarves, hobbits, elves and more. The full article here, segments below.
HC: Can you tell us about your process?
PK: I mean, it’s far more work than we had on “Lord of the Rings,” really, because first of all, we had these 13 dwarfs, these main characters who are on throughout the whole film. So Richard Taylor and WETA and Peter and Fran [Walsh] and everyone, it was a very collaborative thing. WETA brought a lot of conceptual work for the dwarfs, and then we whittled it down to the areas we liked for each dwarf, because we had to make sure they’re a band of people, so they all look like the same race. But within that, they had 13 different personalities, so we had to tell them apart and get to know them and understand them. So we went through the process first of all of designing the actual look, and then they were sculpted so we could see what they looked like in a three-dimensional idea. Then it was over to me to actually get all the hairwork done, and we decided on the colors of the hair and how we were going to do it. Then we designed all the prosthetics, and they were made by WETA for us, and then they came to us, and we applied them, myself and Tami Lane who was in charge of the prosthetic team. We started playing with it, really. And then we had this whole series of things we call show-and-tells, which is where we make the character up completely in makeup, hair costume, everything. That’s where the final designing happens, with myself, Peter, Fran, Philippa [Boyens] and heads of lots of departments, costume and so forth. Once we saw the whole thing in front of us, it’s then we started making final decisions about what we designed. Sometimes what we thought was going to look good maybe wasn’t working quite as well, so we had to change things.

HC: Were there a lot of last-minute changes?
PK: I think nearly for every dwarf, once we got them in front of us, we changed stuff. A lot of it wasn’t huge changes — we were changing hairlines, changing hair color, changing prosthetics, changing beard shapes. So we went through a lot of processes. To get their initial look, each dwarf went through about three or four show-and-tells. And then throughout the filming for the two years, for every look, for every different costume or breakdown of costume or whatever, we went through a show-and-tell series. I don’t know how many times we had the dwarfs in front of us all made up and everything so we could be absolutely sure that we were happy with the way they looked before we shot them. And if you think about that, that was only 13 characters, and we then had the rest of the cast. So we did the same for every single character, and I think I’m safe in saying that for every single major character, and at least half or two-thirds of the other characters either had prosthetics or wigs or both. And then after that, every single dwarf had to have a scale double, and a stunt double and a riding double. So for each principle dwarf, we made six wigs and eight beards. And then Gandalf comes along, and he has five wigs and five beards. And everyone has to have a scale double. Most of them have a stunt double and some will have a photo double because it wasn’t just one unit shooting. All in all, we had hundreds of wigs made, we hired hundreds more. Our basic team — makeup, hair and prosthetics — was 37 people. Sometimes, with extras, we’d go up to 100 people just in a day doing makeup and hair.

HC: How are the looks you created for “The Hobbit” different from “The Lord of the Rings”?
PK: There are new characters that actually I can’t speak about because they’re not in the first film, but in the end, you have to be able to watch “The Hobbit” and then “The Lord of the Rings,” and there has to be a language that is common to all of the films. You can’t do something so different with this, especially with the characters we’ve already seen. You can’t really change Galadriel or Gandalf. We tried to make him look a little bit younger in this one, though he’s now 12 years older. You can’t change things you’ve already seen, so therefore the only scope we have is the new characters, like the 13 dwarfs, but they still have to be of Middle-earth. There is a language that we created in “Lord of the Rings” that we really have to pay attention to and not diverge too much, otherwise, especially because we’re making these 12 years later, it would be too incongruous. It would be a sudden jump from one to the other, and you would say, “Oh, these were made then, and those were made now.” We really tried to avoid that, so there’s always been certain things that we’ve thought about, and we’ve said, “No, we have to stay with this or we have to stay with that, because this is Middle-earth.” And Philippa Boyens, who knows everything about Middle-earth, was always great to go to and say, “We want to do this, are we veering too far away from Middle-earth?” And she’d go, “No, because Tolkien said that blah blah blah blah blah.” So we always had this point of reference in Philippa and people making sure we were still in Middle-earth, and not leaving it and going somewhere else. In that sense, techniques have changed, but our languages have really stayed the same.

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