A procedural television show with a supernatural twist, Grimm ran from 2001 to 2017. Here are 10 facts about the Wesen costumes that you may not know.
A procedural television show with a supernatural twist, Grimm ran from 2001 – 2017. It featured Nick Burkhardt, a “Grimm” who comes into his powers when his quirky aunt comes to town. She tries to tell him the truth about his heritage but is attacked by a Wesen, the creatures walking among people that Nick can suddenly see when he couldn’t before.
This newfound sight showed Nick the Wesen what had been hiding in plain sight all over Portland, where he lives. Wesen look like regular people until they “woge,” a wave of change that isn’t always controllable. This form shows them as a part-animal-like creature and part human.
The Wesen Keep Their Regular Clothing During A “Woge”
A “woge” is the transformation that a Wesen undergoes when changing into their alternate form. In many other supernatural-themed television shows and movies, the costume change during a transformation includes the creature losing their clothes. In Grimm, the Wesen keep whatever clothing they’re wearing when they woge into their alternate forms.
The first fully woged Wesen that Nick sees is Monroe, in the first episode. His wolf-like “Blutbad” form is seen while he is still wearing his regular pants, shirt, and jacket, complete with extra fur and teeth.
Weeks Worth Of Work Done In Days
New episodes of Grimm aired every week and that often meant new costumes for the many different kinds of Wesen that appeared on the show. Makeup and effects artist Barney Burman had a team that did the sculpting, makeup, and prosthetics for the show. He often had to create entire Wesen looks, complete with hair, masks, and clawed hands within days.
In most cases, a team would take weeks to work on these looks, but instead, they had to do all of their designing, sculpting, and fitting to the actor within days.
A Flawless Transformation
Burman took a lot of time and effort for every look and made sure to include real details inspired by the animals each Wesen creature is based on. For instance, the “Bauerschwein” was a pig-like Wesen that had a snout, pig ears, and some of them had no hair. Even though there wasn’t any hair to cover seams on the masks, there was still a flawless transformation in the full woged look.
Prosthetics used for Wesen, like the Bauerschwein, had to be sculpted with several different materials, such as latex for the structural prosthetics like the ears and snouts, and stretchy silicone to ensure a seamless fit to the face that can be blended using makeup.
The Costumes Were Comfortable For The Actors
When actors had to wear prosthetics, the effects team did everything they could to keep it comfortable for them. Materials like latex and silicone are lighter than others and stretching the materials to cover the face and blend in has both advantages and disadvantages.
After hours of work, the actor can’t simply take off a mask and put it back on. The costume is much more complicated than that. After a few minutes though, silicone will warm up using body temperature. This allows the prosthetics and makeup to feel less tight and almost like it’s not even there.
Cast Of Faces
In order to sculpt prosthetics correctly, an artist needs a face that won’t move for several hours. This can prove difficult for a living and breathing person. Instead, a plaster cast is made of the person’s face in approximately half an hour. Once the cast is finished, the artist can use it to make several types of prosthetics for the same costume in order to portray what is necessary for each scene.
This is also effective if the artist makes a mistake or a part of the costume breaks during filming. The plaster cast can be used to make a new prosthetic or mask without having the actor sit there for hours.
Claws Always Out
When a Wesen is woged, it’s not just their face that changes. Although the viewers don’t usually see what’s going on in the character’s entire body, some appendages, like claws, are visible. When it comes to a costume, these are often retractable pieces, but extensions of the fingers that are attached firmly to the hand.
A regular glove may not look very realistic. It could be easier to take on and off, but instead, the extensions are made with the same thin silicone that goes on the face. This allows for a more seamless finish, and claws that are out for the entire duration of time they’re needed for shooting those effects.
Careful Construction For Breathing
Viewers will notice that much of the filming for Grimm is done in the woods. The characters are running around in their costumes and they need to be able to breathe. Prosthetics and makeup might feel light but they can still get uncomfortable around the eye area, nose, and mouth if not properly applied.
The eye area needs a thinner layer in order to blend naturally with the real skin and to prevent makeup or glue from potentially running into an actor’s eyes. In Grimm, the prosthetics and masks that are attached around the mouth or on the lips were secured with a special glue.
The Hair Was Real
In the costumes that used sculpted effects, the hair on the masks and prosthetics were real. This was something that would take many hours to construct, as each hair had to be placed and a hole punched.
Some costumes included hair in the ears, near the nose, and at the hairline, and all of it had to be done precisely and be sturdy.
Computer Generated Effects
Not every woge needed prosthetics on Grimm. A costume wasn’t always necessary to achieve the effects needed and often the woge was only on screen for a few seconds. Whenever a Wesen is revealed, their woge is very quick. They shake their head or move into the transformation that overcomes them.
Monroe, Rosalee, and Bud were among a few of the Wesen whose woges happened with computer-generated effects. The crew put special green dots on their faces and then they’d make the movement like they were going to woge. The effect would be generated on screen but there was no costume to make it happen on set.
Labor-Intensive Work All-Around
Between the computer-generated effects and the sculpted Wesen costumes, there could be upwards of ninety to 100 effects or more in one single episode of Grimm. Every week brought new characters and new costumes to design and create.
The artists involved had to work on each one and then make sure that it appeared as they intended on the screen after it was finished. The work was incredibly labor-intensive but yielded a result that fans loved.
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