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Creature Suit Analysis - Part 1 - Fur


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Wolftrax:

The length of the hair, and it's relative sparceness suggests the suits were hand tied (or ventilated, as we say) onto a toupee lace base. It's costly, time intensive, but works nicely for hair not too thick. As for budget, figure you'd pay about $25 per square inch (yes, inch, not foot). So an arm might cost $5,000-$10,000.

And you can't make it real thick, because that costs more (thicker means more knots tied into the lace base, and each knot takes an experienced ventilator a few seconds). So the hair is made longer to give an apparent thickness.

A cheap shortcut (giving a thinner hair look) is to buy chest toupees (for men who want a hairy chest look at the beach. Swear to god, these are real, I've used them for my figure of Lucy, covering her entire body with them) and they sell for about $20 for one and cover about 30-36 sq/in of area.

The fact that you can see any underlying sleave or base material is a good measure of how sparce the hair actually is.

Bill

Edited addition:

If you are curious about chest hairpieces, try this link:

http://www.hisandher.com/hair_extensions/s...05/sub_001.html

:coverlaugh:

Bill

Edited by Bill
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Guest Forest_Edge_BC

If one has the time... they should get screen shots from all the Hollywood movies during the 1960's that feature men in Gorilla costumes... Hollywood is well known for having the leading edge special effects and costumes... and from all the movies I've seen from the 1960's, the costumes from that era generally don't compare to the realism/details of the P/G film... Planet of the Apes in 1968 seems to be the only 1960's exception, and the technology in the costumes from that movie seem to excel more in the area's around the face.

A collection of gorilla costume screen shots from 1960's Hollywood movies would be a good visual way to compare the P/G film creature is from 1960's era costume technology.

Edited by Forest_Edge_BC
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Forest Edge BC

Don't believe we have met, but welcome.

A lot of photos of various older gorilla and ape suits have been found and put up across the board, but I don't know of one good archive where a person could find them all, dated, described, and referenced.

Would be nice if such an archive could be assembled. I'm informally doing some of that now, and I know a few others are too.

Bill

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Guest Forest_Edge_BC

Hi Bill... no we haven't met before... and thanks for the welcome.

RE: the PGF film; there's a couple things in the film that raise some skeptisism with me;

(1) the ridge of fur along the upper right-side thigh that appears very breifly as the creature turns around... it looks like it could be a join/overlap on a costume.

(2) the lack of toe detail in pict showing bottom of foot.

(3) the flabby type butt.

(4) the fact that P/G had recently published a book on the subject, which provides a monetary incentive to engineer a hoax to sell more books.

on the other hand, with recent enhanced video technology, details in the P/G film that make it difficult to conclusively dismiss it's a hoax;

(1) muscle and/or flab movement under the fur, particulalry around the legs, shoulders, upper arms, and waist area.

(2) the sheer girth of the creature, particularly in the thigh and waist area.

(3) a seemingly skin-tight fit in the waist area, upper arm, upper chest, shoulder, and lower leg area's.

(4) the fluid-like movement of the breasts.

(5) the reported stride of the animal.

(6) even if the costume technology existed in 1967 which could duplicate the P/G film (which I doubt existed), it would have be so leading edge for the era that it would likely only be available to the most well funded of movie studio's... and would likely not have been availble (or affordable) to a couple quasi-cowboys who probably had limited funds and time... the time to re-create the realistic & slight movement of the breast area alone would have taken a 1960's costume maker weeks of full-time work, IMO, so when you add up the rest of the time to re-create the others area's of the costume, your taking about a considerable period of time for costume construction, at a considerable monetary cost.

IMO, If it was a hoax, whoever made the suit did an exceptional job for 1967 standards.

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Wolftrax:

"Bill,

Do you know how the 1976 King Kong was made? "

Basically, the fur was bear hides ( I believe about 6 were used). Assembly was under the direction of Carlo Rambaldi, because Rick was given a waiver to work as a sculptor, under the studio union rules, so he could only sculpt the head, not do anything else on the suit (except wear it as the suit performer, which was under Screen Actor Guild jurisdiction, seperate from the behind the scenes craft unions.

Animation of the face was cable controlled, cables running out of the mask to operator stations where special effects technicians controlled the cable pulling levers. (Today, it's all radio controlled srevo motors in the mask, and puppeteers on set operating the RC transmitters to control).

That's the basics. Does that answer your question?

Bill

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Guest JohnWS

Bill - this 'possibility' of hand tied hair seems to have evolved somewhat.

G. Hand tied ( or ventilated, as the process is often described) human, yak, or synthetic hair - Saves the glue, but just a toupee costs a few hundred bucks and up. Multiply that by a hundred or two, to cover a body. To do a "Patty" suit, Josephine Turner (the grand dame of wigmakers) could have paid off the mortgage on her house from that job alone, if you hired her. She was the "go to" wigmaker for any serious veltilated lace custom hair work (as Rick Baker did for the Sidney suit in "Incredible Shrinking Woman"). Doubt if Patterson could afford her.

I asked:

Bill, regardless of the cost of a top practitioner, this process*, as above, was still an option though?
My bold.

Reply:

The ventilating into a stretch mesh could produce a stretch fur suit then (1967) but it would not have produced one of hair density as seen in the PG film. Ventilated suits are of a much sparser hair density, so it must be left longer and shaggier to give an illusion of density or hair mass.

So you can have a ventilated hair on stretch backing, or you can have short dense fur, but not both, in 1967, as you can today.

In 1967, choose one.

My bold. The above resulted in 'humorous' comments about the 'shag carpet' apes in the '2001 Dawn of Man' sequence IIRR.

Logging in on today, after an absence I see:

The length of the hair, and it's relative sparceness suggests the suits were hand tied (or ventilated, as we say) onto a toupee lace base. It's costly, time intensive, but works nicely for hair not too thick. As for budget, figure you'd pay about $25 per square inch (yes, inch, not foot). So an arm might cost $5,000-$10,000.

And you can't make it real thick, because that costs more (thicker means more knots tied into the lace base, and each knot takes an experienced ventilator a few seconds). So the hair is made longer to give an apparent thickness.

My bold.

Please be aware I made discreet professional enquiries of a technical nature after Jan 10th.

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JohnWS

I'm not sure of the point you are making.

Ventilating is a basic process, and each person doing it may control the hair length and density of hairs tied to the lace mesh.

So it has no precise specification of density or hair length. Each custom hairpiece made by this process is to the specifications of the person ordering it or the person making it.

Thus my appraisals of it in response to questions are generalizations about the process, moreso than on specific instances of it's use.

So would you care to clarify the reason for the above post quoting several of my comments over the past two months.

Thanks.

Bill

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Guest JohnWS

Bill - I posted the older quotes purely to isolate the points I wished to discuss.

Your initial response to my original question:

Ventilated suits are of a much sparser hair density, so it must be left longer and shaggier to give an illusion of density or hair mass.

So you can have a ventilated hair on stretch backing, or you can have short dense fur, but not both, in 1967, as you can today.

That certainly seemed to say to me that in your opinion the length & density of hand tied hair was limited by practical/technical reasons & not financial ones. This didn't seem to fit in with my (limited) knowledge of the wigmaker's knot (basically a cow-hitch if I'm not mistaken). So I made further enquiries & the results certainly were at odds with my interpretation of your answer.

However your recent post

And you can't make it real thick, because that costs more (thicker means more knots tied into the lace base, and each knot takes an experienced ventilator a few seconds). So the hair is made longer to give an apparent thickness.

This seemed to be back to the financial aspects as a limiting factor. Hence my confusion :scratchhead: .

By the way - can't you increase the density by more hairs per tie in the body of the work (reading between the lines - Keyhoe, Focal Press)?

Edit for minor clarificaton

Edited by JohnWS
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JohnWS

To answer you on the ventilating (hand tying hair into a lace mesh), yes, I believe the knot you described in the one.

It's a very easy knot to tie. If you referenced "Keyhoe", I'm guessing you are referring to Vincent Keyhoe, a makeup artist and author who wrote several fine books on film makeup. I used them often for references. He illustrated how to tie the hair in his books.

Here are your variables:

1. The needle hook size - As I recall (and please keep in mind I haven't done this for 20 years), the needles were numbered 1 to 12, for the number of hairs you could normally tie into a single knot. So you can make the knot with one hair, two, or more as you choose. More hairs per knot makes a thicker hairpiece, in general.

2. The size of the lace mesh. Generally, one knot is tied to each lace strand perpendicular to the hair lay (you don't tie the hair to the strands going the same way (if the lace is square) and you don't normally tie to the diagonal lace strands of a hexagonal lace mesh (so you tie to only one third of the lace strands). Since you are limited to the location of the knots, you try to control density both by number of strands of hair per knot, and smaller lace which allows you to tie knots closer together, because the lace strands are closer together on smaller lace. But tying into smaller lace is generally a higher skill level, thus usually higher cost (asuming higher skill commands higher pay, a generalization).

3. Generally, lace mesh is not truly "elastic" in all directions. A squage lace stretches on the bias (diagonal) but contracts on the perpendicular bias. A hexagonal lace can stretch in any direction, but tends to contract on the perpendicular of the stretch.

This means it has some stretch one way, but contracts in another, a give and take thing.

4. Only actual spandex lace mesh (like wig caps) has true allway stretch, so you can stretch one way and not lose dimension on the perpendicular. But all-way stretch lace materials have a fairly large weave, about twice as large as fine toupee hairlace, so larger weave means knots are farther apart, means less hair density.

These are all the variables one must try to factor into any estimation of a full suit made by a ventilating method. Speed of the process varies tremendously with the skill of the person. I once hand tied a full wig and it took me a week. (35 hours to be exact).

So if you are commissioning others to do a suit this way, I would expect cost to be a major factor in the probability. I would wonder about density, and I would wonder about the elastic capability of the result, all based on the variables stated above.

Bill

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Guest JohnWS
If you referenced "Keyhoe", I'm guessing you are referring to Vincent Keyhoe, a makeup artist and author who wrote several fine books on film makeup. I used them often for references. He illustrated how to tie the hair in his books.

That would be him, as I was certain you would know :scratchhead: . Several books? My library is lacking! I have The Technique of the Professional Make-up Artist. Cost me a bl**dy fortune in London back in about '85!

Thanks for the reply.

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JohnWS

Back in the good old days, Keyhoe's book and Richard Curson's "Stage Makeup" were the two best. A lot more stuff started showing up in the 80's, once the makeup effects revolution took hold. Curson's was a common Theater Arts textbook for stage makeup, so wasn't too expensive, Keyhoe's book cost a lot more back then.

Fine books, both.

Bill

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  • 1 month later...

Reviewing the Thread

To begin, I wanted to acknowledge that this forum and the administrators have extended to me a considerable courtesy, in the manner which they have pinned my note threads into one group, easily accessable to new readers (who seem to continue coming to read the notes from links outside the forum). And even though I acknowledged on several occasions that the notes started very informally, unplanned as compared to what they have become, once I did begin to see the series shaping up, I felt anyone interested in reading them would be best served if all the notes were concentrated in one location. For that reason, I haven't posted any similar notes on other sites or forums. Aside from the prospect of publishing some version of the notes formally, here they are, and here they'll stay as long as the forum hosts them.

Another thought I had was that the notes and all the comments posted by others could benefit by having some kind of summary, a review and evaluation of where the discussions went once others joined in with their opinions and comments. Given it's now been almost four months since I started the notes, and had my eyes opened to the whole subculture of forum exchanges, here and on other forums, I thought that a review of the original notes, in context of all the postings as well as an overview of the larger reaction as much as I've experienced, would be helpful, hopefully even insightful.

So I decided that I would post an appraisal of each note set, re-reading the original, seeing if I would change anything, based on the comments and discussions, and offering the readers a fresh look at what I feel are the most relevent issues and ideas. Each group of summary notes will be different, but this brief introduction will be repeated at the head of each.

Part One - The Fur

Reviewing the first note set on costume fur materials, one of the strongest issues pertaining to the whole PG Film "suit vs real" debate is the matter of fur materials of the late 60's as compared to fur materials now. And while I did describe the fact of stretch furs not being available then, this issue actually has been greatly expanded upon, to the benefit of all. My original comment (in the Notes, Part One) was:

"Forget anything about NFT's stretch-based spandix weave furcloth (the industry standard now), because they didn't get it well developed until the early 80's."

This statement was clarified by the actual description of the development of true stretch furcloth materials, provided by Mr. Fred Fehrman, the current owner of National Fiber Technology, the company which makes the stretch furcloths today. But oddly, as forum threads seem to sometimes meander off topic or overlap, the clarification actually happened in another of the note threads, specifically, my Part Eight Notes (on Neck Hackles). So I will be referencing those notes to assist you in following the topic if you choose.

In my notes, Part 8 (Neck Hackles) page 4, post #98, I have copied his complete letter to me explaining the development of stretch fur materials, confirming my comments that these were not introduced to the costume/creature suit industry until the early 1980's.

That section, Notes, Part 8, in the various posts by myself and others, continues the discussion of fur materials in considerable detail, so any of you interested in the fur issue should read through the entire thread of comments. There are excellent discussions of weaving, looms, fabric manufacture etc. which relate to issues of fur materials one could use to make a fur costume.

In reviewing my original notes, this phrase below stood out in my mind, worthy of review.:

"If Patty's a suit, the fabricator's did not take the "easy way" and just use longer, shaggier hair. They chose the hardest hair medium to look good, move well, and the costliest to build (requiring the most hours from the most skilled people)."

In retrospect, I think this comment probably stands as one of the more signifigant statements in the analysis. It truly highlights an issue which I believe casts doubt on the suit-hoax arguments, because it highlights a specific issue where any suposed hoax planner would consider and strive for the more successful look (longer, shaggy hair), which was not done. I even took a fresh look at the 1976 King Kong movie, because the suit has relatively shorter hair, and frankly saw things about the Kong suit which made me admire "Patty" all the more. It isn't anything so conclusive as to settle the debate once and for all, but what I saw, specifically with the fur around the head, neck and shoulders, if "Patty" is a suit, she's better than the 1976 Kong, despite it's big studio budget and the talents of top Hollywood fabricators crossing over six union skill categories.

Returning to my Notes, Part One, in the section "Where the seams are", my opening remark was:

"I read in a post by Chris Walas that he described a suit structured with a "pants" section, and then a "shirt" section. I did that with Swamp Thing (both suits), but they were foam latex. For fur suits, everything I've ever done was a one piece jumpsuit, zipper up the back, plus headpiece, gloves, and boots."

This simple observation seems to have provoked a surprizing amount of discussion and argument. Since then, it has been brought to my attention that two piece fur suits were often made (although to this day, I can't figure out the advantage of such). But those defending or advocating that "Patty" was done by similar two piece fur suit design, they seem to have taken the idea of a two piece fur suit as if it were some magic or exhaulted design, above my comprehension, to keep the integrity of that theory above my criticisms. It has become almost comical, in a way, because there's nothing particularly special about how anybody sections a suit into one, two, three or more parts. It's just a design choice, an option. But it is funny how it has become a strong issue for some people when it's a total non-issue to me.

If it is an issue for you (the reader), you may want to read over the Notes, Part 12, on Hip Shadow Lines, because those who advocate a two piece fur suit design invariably rely on some of those shadow lines to make their point.

After the notes were posted, and the comments began, contributors both arguing for Patty as real and Patty as a suit/hoax started offering their thoughts. One thing I was unaware of at first, but quickly began to see, was how much effort and thought some people have invested in "the backstory", the supposed "behind the scenes" analysis of the people and events of the filming, and using these "facts" to support their point of view. In one of my replies to this discussion, which I made in my Post #37, page 2 of this thread, I stated my personal scale of reliability for "the facts", and I believe it deserves repeating here. What I wrote was:

"So I have learned over the years to rate evidence as follows:

Most reliable - Empirical evidence, testable and repeatable, not dependent on a person's testimony or endoresment to be believed.

generally reliable - physical and photographic evidence that can be studied. Suffice to say, individual pieces of evidence may be altered, but we can at least evaluate the probability and the cost or effort expense in doing so, to factor that into our appraisal of reliability.

Less reliable - personal recollections, where some personal or profit agenda may influence a person's testimony. Usually needs to be appraised with caution and independent verification.

least reliable - personal stories of "I knew a guy who told me. . . ." and similar "hand me down" recollections."

This statement of giving weight to evidence, actually has relevence to all the discussions, not just the topic of fur materials. It goes to the whole issue of the film itself. I repeat it now because I have seen (in the four months since I started) so much discussion about the filming circumstances and the rumored "Hollywood group" who supposedly helped Patternson with a suit. And reading these discussions, I frankly most rate almost every bit of it as the forth and least reliable evidence group, which is why I've personally tried to stay clear of it.

Saskeptic, in Post #42, made a very intriguing argument for trying to put the notes together for some form of publication. Now that the note set is more extensive, I may consider shaping it all up into such a form. This thread review is my first step in that direction.

Overall, looking back now on the four months since the original posting, all the subsequent notes, all the comments, and even my introduction to the fact of these notes being discussed on other forums, I feel confident that the notes continue to reflect a fair appraisal of the hair materials that could be used in a suit and the concerns about what is easy or hard, likely or unlikely.

Finally, in the various comments, especially through some questions by JohnWS, the discussion of hand-tied (or hand knotted or "ventilated" ) hair work is discussed at considerable length, far beyond my original notes described, if you are interested in that subject.

The fur or material surfacing on "Patty's body" remains one of the truly essential issues in my view of what might lead to a solution. And the notes, Part 11, explain what I think is essential to help resolve this issue. One of the more frequently voiced opinions is that the film's resolution and questions of image quality may doom the analysis to be forever "undecided". I can't say absolutely that the issue can be resolved, but I do sincerely believe new data and a greater understanding can be brought to the discussion, and if it is, I have no doubt the fur issues will remain one of the keys to any solution.

Next Up - A review of the Notes, Part 2

Bill Munns

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Guest Remember November
"If Patty's a suit, the fabricator's did not take the "easy way" and just use longer, shaggier hair. They chose the hardest hair medium to look good, move well, and the costliest to build (requiring the most hours from the most skilled people)."

In retrospect, I think this comment probably stands as one of the more signifigant statements in the analysis.

I totally agree with you here. I have no background in this feild but it's very obvious, when you look at other creature suits we see shaggy hair covering the seams.

Chewbacca is a classic example.

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