Are make-up and CG separate disciplines?

SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
This is an interesting article:,0,1175183.story
It talks about how it's difficult to select nominees for make-up awards, when a lot of make-up is digitally enhanced these days or done entirely through CG. They have to check whether a film used 'real' make-up or not.
I'm wondering whether they're asking the wrong question, though. Should practical make-up and CG make-up be considered entirely separate disciplines? Or should they actually all be considered as the same overall discipline, albeit using different techniques? After all, blending a CG face enhancement into a real actor's face (such as with Two Face in The Dark Knight) must involve similar concepts and techniques to doing it all practically, even if the step-by-step process is different. But it's still about blending a fake piece onto a real actor.
Essentially, just because something is done on a computer, I'm not sure whether that should mean it is automatically put into the 'visual effects' category.
It reminds me of the 1980s, when TRON was denied a VFX Oscar nomination because it used computers, which was considered 'cheating' back then.
I wouldn't be surprised to see practical make-up and CG make-up considered a single, unified field in the near future.
What do you guys think?


  • KahvehRobinett
    KahvehRobinett Posts: 442 Just Starting Out*
    Different methods accomplishing the same goal, that's a really hard call but I think that makeup is a VFX to begin with, so CG makeup should be called VFX I think.
  • Yep I think they're totally different things just same effects.
  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,255 Staff
    I was actually going to respond to this with a comparison of actually building a house, versus creating a digital animation of a house, and how they are very different disciplines, but that let me to think of production design on films, and twisted me all around. Sets are constantly digitally enhanced and extended, but it doesn't impact their eligibility for Production Design awards, since the film is the end result that is being evaluated. I guess you could argue about an award for Production Design vs. Makeup Effects, in that the Design would essentially refer to the final appearance, regardless of the means used to achieve it, while Effects would apply more directly to the means by which the results were achieved. But the category is just "Makeup" - so its hard to say.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    Yeah, the house comparison falls down because in the case of a film it isn't the house that is important, but the video/film of the house. The physical reality is irrelevant to a large degree.
    Depends how you define 'make-up', I guess. If you take it as 'physical stuff stuck to an actor', then it can't ever include CG. Personally I prefer to see make-up as 'enhancements to an actor's natural body', regardless of techniques involved.
  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,255 Staff
    So to you, the Photoshop work that goes into the models on the cover of every magazine is just part of the make-up process?
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    Yeah, part of me thinks that is the case. It's all the same illusion. After all, magazines were 'Photoshopping' models way before Photoshop was created.
    It's not something I've thought about extensively, but I always find digital/non-digital divides rather fascinating. It's a bit like how in the early days of the internet people would refer to it as "online" vs "real life", as if online activity somehow wasn't part of your 'real life'. That terminology doesn't tend to be used as much these days, as the web has become an integral and accepted part of normality.
  • its an interesting question. I ran into something similar in animation. I do Computer animation, stop-motion animation and traditional hand drawn animation... but in truth, no matter what sort of animation i am doing computers are involved at some point. Obviously computers are used in computer animation, but they are used in compiling the images for stop motion and editing scenes together, adding FX etc. In traditional animation, sure I draw the initial frames by hand, but then they get scanned into the computer, lines cleaned up, frames tweeked here and there, color added etc. So no matter what form of animation you do, there is always a computer involved at some point. I started referring to computer animation and computer assisted animation, rather than computer animation and traditional animation.
    My favorite form of animation is actually stop-motion animation, which for a while lead me to refer to all other types of animation as non-stop-motion animation, but that got too confusing.
    As for make up, I like combining the 2. I love practical make up appliances, but enhancing them with CG is kool. I often think its the best of both worlds. I have seen films where the CG was so obviously fake it was laughable. The same with traditional FX make-up. But by combining the 2 together and blending them so the audience doesn't quite know what is a rubber appliance and what is a digital effect, you can achieve something better than using just one method or the other. Now days make-up can mean painting an actor's face green to make possible an effect that will be added months later.
    Funny thing is, the line where one stops and the other starts, doesn't really matter a hill of beans when it comes to film making. It only becomes important when someone wants to give out an award.