Practical Vs. Digital: Makeup Test For Ridley Scott's I AM LEGEND Infected Creatures

In 1997, Ridley Scott commissioned Amalgamated Dynamics to put together makeup tests for his vampire-like creatures in his version of I Am Legend, which would've starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hit the jump compare them to to the digital creatures used in Will Smith's version.

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By nailbiter111 - 11/9/2012


I'm not shy about saying that I love practical effects so much more than digital. I great example of using digital effects correctly and incorrectly in a film is 2007's I Am Legend. Digital effects, to me, are meant to enhance the visuals, but not be distracting to the point where they take you out of the believability of the scene. When the film is showcasing a desolate New York City, the digital effects are wonderful. It's as powerful as an abandoned London in Danny Boyle's masterpiece, 28 Days Later.

But in my opinion, director Francis Lawrence made a huge mistake when he chose to use digitally created Hemocytes, instead of practical. Anytime those infected creatures were front and center in the action I was taken out of the film. I felt like I was watching Roger Rabbit interacting with Bob Hoskins.

By the way I Am Legend, is loosely based on Richard Matheson book. Which has been adapted to film twice before Will Smith's version, Omega man with Charleton Heston and earlier The Last Man On Earth with Vincent Price. Even after three films, none have captured the simple, but ingenious premise, that the last man on Earth represents Dracula, and the vampires (which they are in the book, but not always portrayed on film) are the humans. Matheson wanted you to see what it was like to be like Dracula, one of your kind, and feared by the rest of society. Like I said, simple but fascinating, and the execution is top notch.


"In December 1997, the project was called into question when the projected budget escalated to $108 million due to media and shareholder scrutiny of the studio in financing a big-budget film. Scott rewrote the script in an attempt to reduce the film's budget by $20 million, but in March 1998, the studio canceled the project due to continued budgetary concerns, and quite possibly to the box office disappointment of Scott's last three films, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, White Squall, and G.I. Jane. Likewise, Schwarzenegger's recent films at the time (Eraser and Warner Bros. own Batman & Robin) underperformed, and the studio's latest experiences with big budget sci-fi movies Sphere and The Postman were negative as well. In August 1998, director Rob Bowman was attached to the project, with Protosevich hired to write a third all-new draft, far more action-oriented than his previous versions, but the director (who reportedly wished for Nicolas Cage to play the lead) moved on to direct Reign of Fire and the project did not get off the ground." - Wikipedia




And now for a comparison. The first video below features the VFX breakdown of many of the key shots in Will Smith and Francis Lawrence's 2007 film I Am Legend. Skip to the three minute mark to see the digital effects behind the making of the infected creatures in the film. While the second video is of a makeup test for a practical version of the creatures that was not used in the film. It was created by Hollywood special effects legend Steve Johnson. It's been posted before but for the context of the article I felt as though should be included.






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35 Comments
IronManisGOAT - 11/9/2012, 1:36 PM
Hated the Will Smith version. CGI version is much worse than Scott's. Movie was ok until they showed the vampires.
soberchimera - 11/9/2012, 1:36 PM
Really? It came out five years ago, who gives a crap?
FOOM - 11/9/2012, 1:45 PM
Still waitng for a faithful adaption of this classic novel.
gaikinger - 11/9/2012, 1:45 PM
The CGI just took what ever was supposed to be scary out of the film. Same effect with CGI stormtroopers in Star Wars, CGI werewolves in underworld and everything else. Use practical effects whenever you can.
StrangerX - 11/9/2012, 1:49 PM
IDK but lately it seems even though we have come so far with digital, some things really should be mostly practical. I hated seeing digital zombie whatever they were in I am Legend.
FoxForce5 - 11/9/2012, 2:01 PM
Like the make up approach and I'm a big fan of Ridley Scott but the talk of Schwarzenegger makes me nervous. Still, I think I'd have liked to see this more that what they ended up coming out with.

I do love the silicon makeup where you can see various stages of veins and muscles underneath the skin. That's just creepy-cool.
jessepostal - 11/9/2012, 2:05 PM
Practical all the way, with today's money for motion pictures they have no reason not to go practical on most things,besides time issues. Omega man looked better than the I am legend cgi
FoxForce5 - 11/9/2012, 2:07 PM
@ BattlinMurdock: it would have been bold but might have been brilliant! Just look at how well "The Artist" worked and won a bunch of Oscars. That approach might have kept us talking about the film instead of having it as the forgettable movie that it turned out to be. But, alas, we'll never know...
KingEmperor - 11/9/2012, 2:08 PM
Puppet Yoda looked more realistic.
Rhys - 11/9/2012, 2:12 PM
Wow, looks like Scott's version would have been MUCH better. I'm disappointed we never got to see this.

@BattlinMurdock, that sounds like an awesome way to start the film! Makes me even more disappointed.
siggisuperman - 11/9/2012, 2:15 PM
practical until you reach something that you absolutely cannot do without cgi. The do it, and then go straight back to practical. For instance with Green Lantern they went all digital which was dumb. Should have made a badass costume and mask, and then added digital touches. Some good examples are Rorsach, his costume was great, and the cgi on his face looked very real. They should do the same with deadpool, make the whole costume very real, and then do the eyes with cgi. Eyes always look stupid on Batman.
Ceejay - 11/9/2012, 2:15 PM
@jessepostal - don't kid yourself, Omega man had white eyed hippies instead of Vampires. Will Smiths CGI threat was way more effective than that shit!
KnobGoblin - 11/9/2012, 2:22 PM
The Descent proved how much better practical efx are when it comes to this kind of stuff. You just don't get that organic quality with CGI that is needed when you want people to have a primal, visceral reaction to the creature.
Facade - 11/9/2012, 2:33 PM
Great book/movie. The vampire-zombies looked good in some shot and too CGI in others.
superbatspiderman - 11/9/2012, 2:38 PM
Practical effects are a timelessform of special effects. CGI might look cool right now but in 3 years when CGI has advanced even further people will look back at the films with heavy CGI and think it looks crappy. Practical effects last much longer than CGI just look at Alien or Jaws they still look great 30 plus years later.
NeoBaggins - 11/9/2012, 2:39 PM
Without even looking at the comments, I already know we have the eye-rolling and predictable statements about how this would have been better than the Will Smith version. *sigh*
jimoakley666 - 11/9/2012, 2:44 PM
Why the [frick] wasn't that version of the movie made?!
weaponx123 - 11/9/2012, 2:45 PM
the make up looks way better
PapaMidnite - 11/9/2012, 2:50 PM
SO.MUCH.BETTER
PapaMidnite - 11/9/2012, 2:55 PM
@Neo, of course! 'Cause it's true, don't you think?
jessepostal - 11/9/2012, 3:00 PM
@ceejay, it was sarcasm bud for how terrible both were
bababoozer - 11/9/2012, 3:07 PM
Pretty cool all -around.
poop23 - 11/9/2012, 3:16 PM
The makeup one looks better, but i wouldn't say the cg was bad. That kind of stuff is not at all easy to do. It may not look perfect but its not terrible. The environments were amazing though
Nomis1800 - 11/9/2012, 3:27 PM
I prefer practical where it can. So could the zombies have been so much more menacing.
AlexDeLarge87 - 11/9/2012, 4:15 PM
Pretty creepy. Could have been interesting.
nld3 - 11/9/2012, 7:11 PM
I wanted this movie so bad.
YoungThanos - 11/9/2012, 7:12 PM
What ever...just bring pt 2
mctrinket - 11/9/2012, 9:23 PM
Welcome to Earf!
norseman79 - 11/9/2012, 9:42 PM
Digital sucked for a long time but it's not so bad now.

Of the two choices presented the practical looks far better.
loki668 - 11/10/2012, 12:32 AM
I don't believe that Schwarzenegger could utter the words "I am a scientist" without either sounding completely ridiculous or bursting out into laughter.

Lord Loki has spoken
Durango95 - 11/10/2012, 1:47 AM
I liked Scotts...except for the Ahnold thing.
BrickWall - 11/10/2012, 4:36 AM
I am Legend was great, don't know what all these pompous twats are whining about!
thejon93rd - 11/10/2012, 8:49 AM
Probably would have been 50 times better than I Am Legend. Will Smith was pretty excellent in his role, but he was let-down by a terribly-written third act and an ending that could have been handled better. I think it would have been interesting to see Scott and Schwarzenegger collaborate, it'd still be interesting to see in fact.
Gary8264 - 11/10/2012, 4:02 PM
The Omega Man is one of my favorite movies from the 70's, for a boy of 12 or so it was really excitin'. I liked the version of the people better on Omega than I did on I Am Legend, and really loved the music for Omega.
NostalgicYouth - 11/11/2012, 11:46 PM
@ ManOfSuperguy
I believe a man can fly too. A " superman".

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