Effects legend Rick Baker talks Men In Black III and technology

News Ryan Lambie
9 Jun 2010 - 06:29

Rick Baker, makeup effects man in such films as An American Werewolf In London, talks about his involvement in Men In Black III and The Wolfman...

Werewolves, exploding people and severed limbs, special makeup effects legend Rick Baker has been creating strange and extraordinary cinematic moments for almost 40 years.

Responsible for the once ground-breaking transformation sequences in American Werewolf In London (which won him the first Oscar for best makeup effects) and Michael Jackson's Thriller, his technical know-how blended with David Cronenberg's warped imagination to create some extraordinary moments in 1983's Videodrome, including a gun made of flesh and bone and an hypnotic pulsating television.

Within the last decade, Baker has lent his talents to projects as diverse as Hellboy, X-Men: The Last Stand, Norbit (we'll forgive him for that one), and the Men In Black movies. And in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Baker revealed that he'll be rejoining returning director Barry Sonnenfeld to create the makeup effects for Men In Black III.

"I'm just starting up now Men in Black III," Baker said, "which is another one I wanted to do because I worked on the first two."

Elsewhere in the interview, Baker talked about how computer technology had changed the way he worked, particularly in the werewolf transformation sequences on one of his most recent films, The Wolfman, released earlier this year.

"Thirty years ago, with An American Werewolf in London, we changed the way people thought about transformation," Baker said. "So what do you do now? The answer is they pretty much left me out of the transformation. They did it with CG. They utilised my ideas and concept sculptures, they scanned it all in, but it was all done in the computer."

And while Baker praised the computer effects on The Wolfman, he warned against an over-reliance on CG technology.

"I hate when the computer stuff just makes for sloppy filmmaking, and it has," Baker continued. "The common thing you hear now is, 'We'll fix it in post.' 'There's a C-stand in the shot; well, we'll take it out in post-production. We'll have somebody paint it out.' Well, why don't you just walk over, grab it and move it out? It makes so much for sloppy filmmaking."

Men In Black III is due out on May 25 2011, the very year that Baker enters his fifth decade in the film business. If you want to see just how far Baker's effects skills have come in forty years, check out this clip of his first screen credit, 1971's awe-inspiring Octaman...

LA Times

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