In the beginning, the make up artists were only using colors to bring out the features and the feelings of the artist that is required at the specific point in time1.
In order to realize this, a number of materials were tried. To take into consideration the face or the specific body part and the way it emotes. These were then tried out by the make up artists independently though not recorded or shared between them. Initially the movie prosthetics was more of a mask over the face that emoted the emotions of the artist better and avoided being too tough on the person. The initial masks were hard and did not meet the requirements but for the fact that they were a part of the mask which could not take into account the flexibility needed for it to serve at a flexible part like the face. Over a period of time, the materials tried out include: plastics, polyurethane, foamed vinyal, baked silicon among many others. The success came through foamed latex which was soft and ductile and bent to the sizes and shapes that the artist required. It was also mould able and the artists seem to gain immensely out of this new material.
This was employed in all the movies that involved facial transformation starting from Frankenstein and Wizard of Oz. The techniques were bettered as more and more movies got being done. Some of the leading make up artists include, Rick Baker, Charlie Parker, Stan Winston and others. Some of the movies that became a roaring success because of their efforts include apart from the ones already mentioned, 2001 - the space odyssey, American WereWolf in London, KRULL, the Terminator and many others. All these employed movie prosthetics extensively and realized the benefit.
In the technology front, the foam latex had a number of shortfalls including the chemical characteristics of the make up that could react with the number of material in common use and could not be held up in rain or water or even exposure to air. Stabilizing compounds were brought in and more work is still going on to get at the better make up chemical that could be used for movie prosthetics. A combination of various chemicals is used in order to ensure that the right kind of image is obtained. For this purpose, the make up artists make use of Fiber reinforced plastic moulds and other such materials to enhance speed of production. There are also other materials that add up to the problems faced during usage. The material normally does not with stand water and reacts happily with it. In order to take a shoot in the rain, it is important that the prosthetics withstand water. Some times the shoot has to be underwater, flowing water and on other such different media which might require specifically different kind of material to be used and adopted for the purpose.
History of Computer Generated Imagery
In the mean time, the competition for movie prosthetics came from Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). This was an animation proposition and made use of computer generated images in place of some one wearing a prosthetics and acting it out. This meant people could overlap an existing acted image of an artist with a CGI image that would fit on to his face and try and make it as natural as possible.
The history of the CGI2 started with the multi media revolution that happened in the computers and the high speed of operation