Viral Man: The Making Of – Part 4
With a clear idea of what our Swine Flu campaign would involve, Touching Man was well on his way to becoming a reality. In the last entry, I wrote about how we had developed a few ideas for what he should look like. In this entry, Touching Man finally makes an appearance. Unfortunately, a lot of the photos that I had for this entry were deleted when I lost a significant amount of my hard drive a few weeks ago and so it’s not as populated with photos as it should be. I apologise for this!
Making Touching Man’s costume
At the end of the previous week, I had spent an hour or two searching online for a stripey green and black jumper or tshirt for Touching Man’s costumes. It’s surprisingly hard to find that combination of colours. Green and white, no problem. Green and black, impossible. Luckily however, eBay came to our rescue and I placed an order for this jumper, which was exactly what I had imagined his top should look like.
We also had to consider what the bottom half of Touching Man should look like. It couldn’t take away from the main focus of his stripey top and with that in mind, we decided on some black jeans and for his shoes, some green flat shoes.
Also at the end of last week, we had purchased some long, neon green tubes for Touching Man’s spikes. They would be cut to size and slotted into the back of the jumper. However, because the jumper cost nearly £20, we didn’t want to go to the trouble of cutting it up only for it to not work and so we decided to buy a cheap £3 tshirt to test it on first.
To make our spikes, we began by cutting them down to 10cm tall. To keep them secure once in the back of the tshirt, we used some thick, sticky paper to place on the inside of the tshirt, before cutting a hole through it and the tshirt, making a slit for the spike, which held it in place quite well.
In addition to the spikes, we had also bought a pack of pegs which we then spraypainted green. We experimented with using the pegs instead of the larger, plastic tubes for spikes and found that the plastic tubes were far more visually appealing than smaller pegs and so we scrapped the pegs altogether. As I said at the beginning of this post, I did have lots of photos of the development process which were unfortunately corrupted when I lost a lot of my data a few weeks ago.
Since it was to be me who would be dressing up as Touching Man, I put the tshirt on and walked around while the spikes were in the back, seeing if they would stay securely in place. For the most part they did, which was good news. For the most part, we had succeed in developing most of Touching Man’s costume. There was one last thing we had to find: A wig.
I personally didn’t have any set ideas about what Touching Man’s wig should look like nor did I quite know where we might find one. Luckily, Will and Jerry did and we went searching. Most of the wigs were quite normal and just not flamboyant enough to Touching Man’s personality and then Will spotted the most flamboyant wig we had seen. Wild, blonde with subtle green streaks. Admittedly (and in retrospect wrongly!) I wasn’t very keen on the wig. I didn’t think it was the right choice, but I didn’t know what the right choice was. I was hesitant about buying it but I reluctantly did so in the hope that perhaps it would look ok once it was with the rest of the costume.
On Tuesday, the jumper came and it was spiked-up in a similar way to the tshirt. On Wednesday, it was time to finally try the makeup on along with the costume. I wasn’t looking forward to trying it as I knew that it may be difficult to get off.
Me, Hannah and Will found a quiet room and while they waited outside, I changed into my black jeans, green shoes and stripey top, before coming back in to begin the facepainting, with Hannah taking charge of the small white pad and filling it with green makeup and then applying it to my face. 20 minutes later, my whole face was green. It was surreal to see myself no longer skin-coloured.
I then put the wig on and all of us agreed that the costume, wig and facepaint were a perfect choice. My earlier apprehensions about the wig were now gone, after seeing myself in a few photos that we took at the time. Again, I do apologise but I no longer have them.
I only had the makeup on for 15 minutes as it was only to do a ‘screen test’ of sorts. Getting it off proved to be much harder than putting it on, with both Will and Hannah using plenty of facewipes to get rid of the excess, leaving me a strange shade of orange. In order to get the rest off, I retreated to the toilets, going via the library reception and greeted with some understandably strange looks. Once in the toilets, I spent a good ten or fifteen minutes trying to get my face back to its original colour but didn’t actually succeed. In the end, I got as much as I could off and then the rest in the shower once at home.
The next day, it was time to begin the filming of our short videos. We had already organised some of the storyboards and this helped us to map out our filming schedule for the day. Again, Hannah took on her makeup assistant role and turned me green and then for the rest of the day, we filmed. It was a really fun experience filming although frustrating as well. Although we had done our best to make sure that the spikes were secure in the back of the jumper, because I was moving around so much, they kept falling out while filming. It meant having to cut and redo the scene, adding time onto the filming and we were already under a very tight schedule. This was in addition to Will and Jerry going down to London later on in the day for a week and so no further filming could be done until they were back.
By the end of the day, we had managed to get roughly 60% of the videos completed, with the rest needing to be completed when Will and Jerry were back.
Touching Man’s First Photoshoot
On Friday, Hannah and I travelled from Chester’s Warrington campus to Kingsway, the university’s dedicated arts campus. Warrington campus unfortunately did not have its own photography studio and because we needed to produce a poster campaign, it was important that the photos looked professional. Neither myself or Hannah are trained photographers so it proved difficult to set up some good shots, but we perservered.
Some of the photos, as you can see from above are a little dark because we didn’t get the settings or lighting as good as it should have been. In other cases though, as with the third photo above, although it’s not white, it does create a nice background and this particular image ending up being internally used to promote the campaign.
As you can see from the above three photos, the studio isn’t particularly huge, but when the photo is cropped to the bounds of the background paper, the photo suddenly feels much bigger.
In the second of the three photos above, you’ll see that I’m hiding behind the paper. One of the assets that we wanted to design for the campaign was desktop wallpaper, which would be placed on all of the library computers. However, I didn’t want Touching Man to dominate the wallpaper but instead simply ‘infect’ it by occupying a small, but noticable space on it. You’ll see what I mean a little more clearly when I make the project live with all of its assets.
Touching Man is Touching Man not because I personally play the character but rather, because he has a very defined personality and appearance including expressions. Take this shot for example:
This is one of the test photos where I’m not posing. Notice how with a lack of emotion, all the fun of the character disappears. It was important to retain this crazy, manic look in all of the photos. And retaining such an expression over the course of a five hour photoshoot is quite tiring!
As I had found out already, taking the makeup off proved to be a very timeconsuming process. In fact, although we finished the photoshoot at around 6:30pm, it wasn’t until 7pm that I felt comfortable enough to jump on a train home with the least amount of makeup left on me!
In total, Hannah and I took just under 100 photos. We both kept a copy and over the weekend, I began to see if I could get them to work in a poster campaign. However, as already mentioned, many of the photos that we took weren’t good enough to use and because of this, I decided that a second photoshoot was necessary.
This week had been quite productive and a lot of fun. We had developed Touching Man’s costume, shot some of our short videos and had a photoshoot. Next week would be the penultimate week of our project and it would be a big one.
In the next entry: Two more photoshoots, the unveiling of Touching Man and…a name change?