Berger shows explosive talent in Breaking Bad season finale

27 Oct

As what is turning out to be the norm in my life, blood and guts became the topic of choice over a couple beers. I guess it is an embarrassing excuse to call myself a fan of AMC‘s bold TV series, Breaking Bad – being that I haven”t actually seen anything past the first season. (I suppose it would be a sore excuse to say I have even completed that!) And what exactly is my excuse? The DVD sits on my shelf, years, months…. losing track here.

…blood… guts.. yes, blood and guts. October 9th called for the fourth season finale, written and directed by Vince Gilligan. I am still not sure what exactly happens, but I was told about one of the characters getting half of his face blown off – leaving exposed skull and missing eye. Was it digital? Is is possible with make up?

Immediately I thought of the spfx make up team for AMC’s The Walking Dead, headed by Greg Nicotero. Probably one of my favorite articles in Make Up Artist Magazine was high lighting the prosthetics and effects for season one. (Season two now airing.) Thinking of the spreader bar used to pull back an actors cheek, and the gruesome effects of live cast and double sided plate moulds, I knew this gnarly face had to be the work of some sorcerer cooped up in a lab.

Curiosity got the best of me and in the morning I HAD to Google it. Turns out it was make up, and five hours worth too!

Howard Berger was the special effects artist in charge of this piece. He began the process by taking a live cast of actor Giancarlo Esposito‘s head, which would give a base to sculpt on. Prosthetic pieces such as this, are generally sculpted on castings to ensure a secure fit. It is difficult to attach pieces going over bone structure and curves while still keeping the piece true to sculpt, with this method, one can build to fit exactly to the face it is being applied on.

When asked about the scene, Esposito, who plays Gus, reported five hours of application time. The piece was “glued” to the side of his head and meticulously designed. (Berger created little “craters” in the parts where remaining skin would have splintered from the explosion.)

Unfortunately, there was not much to be found about the prosthetic it’s self – one can only guess whether it was gelatin, silicone, or latex foam.  What paints where used, and how long did the sculpt actually take? I imagine the “glue” was a product closer to Pros-Aide; coloring such as Skin-Illustrator, perhaps PAX. Hopefully I will run into an article based more on the effects, but in the mean time catching up on the series will do just as well.

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3 Responses to “Berger shows explosive talent in Breaking Bad season finale”

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