Friday, August 13, 2010

Live-action or animated?

Next year we will cosplay like never before. We will cosplay from movies faces exposed. This far all our costumes have either been made based on drawn characters or masked ones from films. Because of our up-coming project (which is almost too alluring, distracting us from what we should be doing) I have pondered the differences between these two sources and why it seems to be easier to cosplay from comics and animations.

When it comes to movie cosplays or costume imitations the quality and attributions of materials matters more for me. The textures and types of textiles can be identified with eyesight. Also how the fabric has been handled or constructed is easy to notice. For example, it’s not hard to spot from live image is the design on the fabric printed or woven. When making costumes based on animated model there are some margins to work in. Interpretation is more important than observation. The tools to use can be costume history, intuition or plainly the selection of the nearest fabric store. Imagination serves as a big factor, because the source is all made up also. But with movies, everything is real. The materials exist somewhere, even if you don't have the access to them.

That's why being as accurate as possible with the references plays bigger role with movie costumes. When construction is based on animation you can bend the rules a little according to your own taste. Because the materials can hardly be exactly the same as in the movies, the importance of details, cut lines, designs and close-enough textures are for me the main points to follow.

With movie costumes, finding references is not a problem. You don’t only have to rely on promotional pictures or the movies themselves to collect them, thanks to movie costume exhibitions. There is nothing in the animation sources which could be compared to them. I thought about original art or cover art as options, but in them the artist usually uses his freedom of expression and doesn’t necessary follow the “real” character design. Of course there are character sheets with detailed information but in the end, they are only paper or pixels. The reality is way more informative, even if in pictures.

Movie costumes don’t usually change. They stay the same, so you don’t get lost with different alternations. I bet every cosplayer knows the difference with elaborate manga and simplified anime designs. The costumes may get dirty or torn but the constructive side doesn’t alter. This way you are not made to choose between one or the other or combining the two, which for some seems to be rather big sin on cosplayers books. With only one true model, you really can’t go wrong or then again, you really can go wrong. Somehow I see movie costuming much stricter, which is why we also have been avoiding it, but not because of the materialistic side of it, but with the physical.

The main point is to look like the character, but with movie cosplays you are faced with another similarity aspect. With animation people interpret the features of the character always little different. Especially with Japanese production, where the amount of facial features is stripped to minimum. In movies, it’s not only about the characters appearance, but also the actors. Real human faces are naturally more easy and obvious to read. I don’t know am I viewing this too seriously, but I can’t see myself trying to portray a person, who I don’t resemble a bit gender-, posture- or facial-wise. We have been avoiding this issue with masks, which has worked really well.

With the project we were able to solve or dodge all the issues we have with movie costumes. Gladly, or perhaps because the previous points we chose characters with peculiar skin color and striking features. This way the actor’s facial structure and proportion plays much smaller role. Also we finally found a kick ass female duo, so no problems with the sex neither. But still, this new movie costuming project will be a challenge. An enjoyable one. The only problem for me is to suppress the desire to start working! I need a lot of Force to over-come my cravings…

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