The art of makeup effects transforms actors into characters. We have studied the masters such as Rick Baker, Stan Winston and Jim Henson, and Dick Smith and implement the tried and true techniques that they developed over the past century. We also look to our contemporaries and industry publications for the latest in prosthetics and new makeup, learning the newest cutting edge techniques. We also try to innovate the industry ourselves, looking for better tools and techniques constantly.
At Tolin FX we create a variety of fx makeups, such as character, old age, monster, creature, zombie, and trauma. We can handle the entire fx makeup process from beginning to end. We can design, take lifecasts, sculpt and create prosthetics, apply the makeup, or manage the character on set to keep it all looking awesome. We create fx makeups out of the kit using traditional techniques and implement build up materials such as colladian, wax and latex, and create prosthetics using gelatin, foam latex, silicone, vinyl encapsulation, and pros-aide transfers.
Monsters are our true passion. Building a full creature suit is challenging, requiring a lot of planning and effort. We've created enough monster suits to know that many factors must be considered that only experience can account for, such as actor ergonomics, suit durability and endurance, engineering and mechanics, power supplies, etc.
Tolin FX has had the joy of creating several full monster suit creatures for film. Our first was The Bugman from the feature film Steve produced, It Came from Yesterday, pictured left. We have made creature suits from foam latex, L200, and urethanes. They have had animatronic mouths, tails, and quills. We have created interdimensional bugmen, a wolf made from plant matter, a water demi-god, and a full sized dinosaur suit!
Much of the work we create is for the props department on films and various TV shows. We can create saftey foam and rubber props from the real pieces, duplicating the details and paint job exactly. We build breakaway props too, including breakaway glass, ceramic, balsa, and even repeatedly breakable magnetic props.
We can bring hard-to-find or hard-to-build props to life, using your design our ours. Tolin FX has built hundreds of static and animatronic props. Our portfolio includes animals such as cats, birds, moose, frogs, chickens, fish, helgramite nymphs, and lots of prop guns including shotguns, rifles, machine guns, pistols, umbrella guns, and ray guns. We have made rocks and clocks, radios and radiators, car doors and car interiors, more mind control helmets that you would think, the same is true for fire pokers, swords and armor, alien eggs and monster eggs, and a ton of other cool stuff. We can also design or fabricate custom props of whatever else you need.
Blood and gore special effects is definitely one of our specialties, and we are proud to call ourselves blood slingers. We create bloody fx makeups from trauma to gore, prop bodies, prop heads and limbs, and live action blood effects such as neck slices, stabbings, shootings, etc.
We also invented Squib FX, the world's best practical gunshot special effects with no pyrotechnics. This means that actors no longer need to put an explosive on them to create the illusion of a gunshot wound. It also means affordable squib effects for production- no expensive technician, no insurance hurdles, no permits, etc.
Check out Squib FX- our non explosive air blood squibs at: squibfx.com
There are not too many shops that create miniatures anymore, but we are doing our part to help keep a dying craft alive. And thank goodness, because practical in camera models are becoming popular again as the digital revolution is becoming more everyday. We build miniature set pieces, model buildings and signs, forced perspective models. Tolin FX even builds model aircraft for Lockheed Martin and the Skunkworks program.
We utilize traditional model making techniques along with 3d printing, CNC machining, and laser cutting to fabricate our models. We can also look to molding and casting methods used in our fx makeup work to enhance them in nontypical and interestng ways. We also take the same approach to finishing, using automotive and traditional set painting techniques along with vinyl cutters and laser engraving to make our models as life like as possible.
When characters cannot be constricted to the human form, but don't lend themselves to computer generated imagery, they usually end up as puppets. We love making puppets! Puppets are interesting because they can bring a character to life using a range of puppet styles. Very very simple shadow puppets can sometimes be just as life like as hyper realistic sophisticated animatronics.
We can design, build, and perform any kind of puppet. We've built hand puppets, marionettes, bunraku, shadow puppets, cable controlled puppets, and animatronics. We can create character, creature, animal pupppets, and even animated props that need performed on set or on stage.
Most costumes can really come together with that one signature piece that makes a statement. Its hard to make a powerful statement with off the shelf costume pieces. So designers will often come up with some crazy ideas about how to make such a center piece and we get to make it for them.
We construct specific pieces or the whole ensemble. We can work from your ideas and drawings or we can bring our unique fx makeup perspective to your costumes through our designs. Helmets, crazy hats, mind control helmets, super hero insignia, aging and battle damage, and armor are all good examples of times when our expertise have come in useful.
This is truly the art of illusion and magic. To create an effect where a physical moment appears to occur or exist on camera or on stage directly in front of a live audience is the oldest tradition in specail effects- illusion. There is no need for computers with these types of fx. A master sfx artist is a master illusionist, and can create seemingly impossible moments exist in real 3d space.
We get excited when someone says, "You can only do that in a computer". We love computers, and they are super useful, but that is a cop-out. There is nearly no special effect that can't be created for real in front of you. It might be cheaper to do it with a computer, and that is sometimes the determining factor, but it is always cooler to do it for real. We have created many physical effects over the years, from your typical rain, snow, and wind to car explosions, gunshot impacts, exploding flower pots, etc.
Sculpture is an ancient craft and gives us total freedom when it comes to describing 3d space. Most fx makeup work starts with a sculpture. Prosthetics, suits, puppets, and props ususally begin or at least include sculpture in some way to come to life. Sometimes the sculpture is the artwork that is desired as in the case of fine art commission pieces and awards and trophies.
Pretty much every artist working at Tolin FX enjoys sculpting and has some medium they are best with. We sculpt and carve in many different medium depending on the job. Of course we use all of the clay varieties typical to sfx, but we also sculpt in permanent materials such as epoxy sculpting mediums, wood, metal, foam, plastic, stone, and ceramic.
Lifecasting is not just the art of capturing the exact detail of the human form, it is also psychology. To rub liquid rubber all over another person, or to have another person rub you down with liquid rubber is an intimate moment. And it also requires a lot of trust. Creating a calming and professional environment is the key to a successful lifecast for the fx artist and the subject. We have lifecast everyone from famous movie stars to regular humans.
Tolin FX has done hundreds of lifecasts. From the full body of a giant man to the fingertips of a child, and of course all the hundreds of heads and faces in between. Most fx makeups require a lifecast, so we always have lifecasting supplies on hand. Or we just grab one of the dozens of lifecasts we have in the shop ready to sculpt on.
All the fx and illusions and artwork we create at Tolin FX is with the intention of being seen by an audience. Most of the time this is on a screen, from phones to movie screens. To ensure that we know how to design and best execute the illusion requires an understanding and knowledge about filmmaking that really only comes from filmmaking.
Tolin FX makes films. Not just the hundreds of test films that we have photographed, but also tutorial and instructional videos. We have a Youtube channel that we have filled with all of these types of movies. And in 2008 Steve Tolin produced the feature film, It Came from Yesterday, with Jeff Waltrowski, also building all of the practical fx and fx makeups and vfx.
Sometimes you are limited by reality and physics. We can pretend to bend them, but we still exist within them in truth. Except in the computer. It is the one place where your creativity can be completely limitless. It can be an aesthetic that is impossible or a physical situation, and it can also just be about the physics of the wallet of the producers.
Tolin FX really cut their VFX teeth on the feature film they produced, It Came from Yesterday. Director Jeff Waltrowski had a specific look that he wanted to acheive and it was also a period movie. We were very limited in our budget, so Jeff decided to shoot the whole movie on green screen. Tolin FX created every environment and almost every single model in that film. We then started offering our VFX services to other productions and have used them to great effect many times including space ships, throwing Nissians, super powers, spinning coins, colorful prisms, and a bunch of other stuff.
Nearly every piece of artwork that Tolin FX creates needs painting in some way, and for that reason we have lots of practice painting. But sometimes a painting exists for its own sake. Most of the artists working in the studio come from some type of fine art illustration or painting background, whether it is what they went to school for or was the foundation that the rest of their artistic interests stemmed from.
We work in many different painting and illustration mediums including watercolor, arylic, oils, inks, etc. Since these are generally fine art pieces the subject matter is often portraiture of loved ones or an abstraction to bring interest and color to a focal space.
Most of the work we do begins with an idea. Regardless of what we are building, the first step for us is usually turning that idea into drawings and renderings to facilitate the conversation and to make sure that we are creating what the client desires. We will generally work through several rounds of notes, refining the design as we go, with the client shaping the work with us.
Sometimes a client doesn't know what they are looking for, and will ask us to design the entire artwork. Other times they already know what they are looking for and our designs just keep us on target. Tolin FX utilizes a number of different tools and techniques to create designs that inform the fabrication process, using sketches and drawings, traditional paintings and marker renderings, Photoshop and Illustrator drawings, maquette sculptures, CAD drawings, 3D modeling and animation, animatics, Solidworks models, Sketchup models, Zbrush renderings, and others.
The ability to reproduce a 3d object is an essential fx makeup skill. With soft or rigid molding compounds we can capture a negative impression of every detail of an objectm, allowing us to recreate positive castings that duplicate the original. This skill is used at many steps in most fabrications that we create. It can be used to capture a shape to recreate it once in a different material or even to mass produce pieces thousands of pieces.
Tolin FX has created thousands of molds and castings for prosthetics, props, architectural reproduction, models, lifecasting, etc. We make molds from many different materials including flexible rubbers such as silicone, urethane, polyurethane foam, foam latex, and slip lates, as well as rigid compounds such as gypsum, concrete, urethane plastics, polyester and epoxy resins, wax and stearic acid, and the list goes on.
Steve Tolin has trained in martial arts through much of his life and always thought it would be cool to be a stuntman. He started training with Master Mike Scheib in 2010, and Mike started training with Tolin FX in 2012. In the past couple years Master Scheib has also become Stuntman Mike as he has begun performing as a SAG stuntman in the TV show Outsiders.
Tolin FX and Stuntman Mike decided to combine what they know about fx and stunts to create a number of stunt pieces that have allowed Mike to be thrown down the stairs safely and enabled Steve to take 2x4 to the face multiple times. we are also very concerned about female stunt performers and are developing a line of stunt pads that look like bare skin to cover the scantily clad women of Hollywood.
Check out our Naked Stunt Pads- nude fleshy stunt pads at: nakedstuntpads.com