Creature Suit Analysis Notes - A Detailed Description and Index
Introduction - This page is for people who do not know exactly
what these notes are, and have never seen them. You are welcome to read this summary, and if the notes intrigue you, you may go directly
to any one specific topic and read it for yourself.
In the Bigfoot controversy, one of the most often described explanations
for sightings is that a human is just wearing an "ape suit". This argument is applied to the Patterson Gimlin Film of 1967 by skeptical
people. That film represents the best photographic record to date of something covered with fur and seen in the woods, which may be
a real creature of unknown species or may be a human in a fur costume.
So given that fur costumes are something I've built and
worked with for many years in the film industry, I decided in January of this year to have a serious look at the film, and apply my
knowledge of fur suits to that analysis of the film.
But while many professional people doing an analysis simply study the subject
in their lab and issue a conclusion, I chose to take a different approach. I offered information I knew about the general subject
of creature suits, so other people could actually learn more about the suits themselves. I did not want others to just accept my conclusions,
but be better equipped to do their own research and possibly reach their own conclusions. In other words, I set out to teach people
what I know about creature suits, to give them an education in the subject, not just a conclusion on the film.
So these "Creature
Suit Analysis" Notes are written almost like a course in how to build creature suits, with extensive information on materials, techniques,
This index will describe each set of notes, so you may better understand what that topic covers, has direct links
to the website page where the note set starts, and may includes other comments related to either my starting set of notes or the thread
comments by me or others as the discussion of the notes was carried out in the forum.
The Title of each Note Set is the direct
Link to that Forum Thread, if you want to read it.
I started with a discussion of types of fur or hair materials used to make various
suits, their cost, appearance, and considerations for using them in fur suits.
I also did a review of this thread, after about
three months, and expressed my ideas about what I had learned since starting this, as well as considering what other forum members
These notes described padding and muscle shapes sometimes
put under the fur in an attempt to change the apparent anatomical shape or proportions of the fur suit to look less human, more like
some other creature. I explained the confusion between Muscle Padding (which is simple padding that has a shape sort of like musculature,
but doesn't actually move like real musculature) and a Muscle Dynamics Simulation Device (which theoretically creates actual movement
under a fur suit that has muscular shifting, expandiung and contracting). This Muscle Dynamics Simulation effect is one of the hyped
processes of the creature business where many claim to be doing it but hardly anybody has actually succeeded in making it work. So
it has a mystique of success, and a reality of failure. The notes explain why in detail.
These notes now considered the person wearing the suit, the physical stress involved, and why different types of suits
impose different types or amounts of stress on a person. It is more difficult than generally believed, and the stress has incapacitated
people or sent them to the hospital, and I mention specific examples of this. And I describe the fact that for the movie Swamp Thing,
I actually had to get into a suit and do a stuntman's job when the regular stuntman was overcome by stress in the suit I made for
him in that movie. So when I talk about the stress of wearing a suit, it is also from my personal experience wearing them, as much
as from my experience with building them and knowing others who wore them. If you'd like to read more about my experience on that
film, Swamp Thing, go HERE, or see me in the suit HERE.
There are actually two seperate topics in this set of notes, and the topics are connected
only by semantics. Extra Hands (meaning hand/arm extension devices) and Extra Hands (meaning assistants helping the person who wears
the costume). So that play on words is the only real connection between the two topics.
The Arm Extension part discusses in detail
various devices used to make human arms look longer, as ape arms are, and the various ways of creating movement in the fingers is
described. The notes also explain how the size of the arm extensions affects the appearance of the wrist, and why good arm extensions
still don't look good because of the elbow position relative to the arm proportions. Its all fairly dry and technical.
part of the notes discusses crew assistants who help a person in a suit and what's involved in their work on set. The reason this
has some connection to the film issue is that generally people wearing fur creature suits need such assistance and the hoax theories
usually trying to explain the PG Film don't allow for such skilled costume assistants as participants in the theorized hoax. So the
notes describe why such assistants are needed and why a hoax would be less convincingly theorized without them.
"Patty", if you don't know is the nickname given to the figure seen walking in the PG
film, a female nickname because the figure has apparent female breasts. This note set describes how I might go about actually building
a complete suit to match what I see in the film, a step by step design and construction guide, basically how a suit is built.
the review, I added some comments, and later in the thread, I posted my "Portrait of Patty" artwork exercise. Summing up, this thread
discussion focuses primarily on building process, if the stated goal were to try and replicate what's in the original film for a new
This one didn't have a Part number (I felt
it was sort of a theoretical discussion apart from the actual analysis of suits and bodies) but in these notes, I considered the challenge
of trying to rebuild a suit to resemble what we see in the film, from the perspective of a scientific experiment. Would it actually
prove anything to justify the expense and effort? This exercise in the theoretical did help me clariy my thoughts which became the
Notes Part 11, on a proposed study, so if you are interested in the scientific value of such a rebuilding endeavor, read this with
the Notes in Part 11 as a related set.
For these notes, I used a digital human model (a "Michael 3" from Poser,
specifically) and DAZ software to pose him with a backdrop image from the PG Film frames, to see if I could compare the human proportions
with the figure seen in the film. So these notes describe the setup process to equalize a sequence of film frames so all had the same
scale, and once the human figure was scaled to one frame image, other frames could be substituted and the human reposed while keeping
the scale of human to film figure. The notes and charts describe the process in detail, as well as some of the resulting impressions
when the human was compared to the film's figure, "Patty".
There were also some interesting contributions by others about people
with unusually long arms, since the comparative study seemed to indicate such a person might be necessary if the figure in the film
is a person wearing a suit.
In these notes, I discussed and illustrated how creature
suits typically divide the body section from the head mask, and where the seam or seperation line usually is. And in the charts, I
diagrammed the kind of suit flaws I expect to see when a person wearing a suit turns the head to look far back (as the figure in the
The neck hackles study looks specifically at the darkened fur mass on the back of
the neck of "Patty" in many frames, and as I studied the film, I began to wonder if that darkened patch was representing some hair
raised up like neck hackle instead of laying down more flattened as the other body fur appeared. These notes discuss first the basic
optics of why raised fur should look darker, and then considers both how real fur on a living mammal might cause the neck hairs to
raise up, and how a fake fur suit might have the fur backbrushed up to simulate that same effect.
So this discussion considers
how both real and faked fur might achieve this look. As I have stated in that thread and my summary analysis on this site, I believe
this issue is potentially one of the anatomical issues which is highly relevent to reaching any potential conclusion.
These notes go off on a side issue, looking at the film hoax theory from a standpoint
of likelyhood, based on suit and film practices, simply looking at what is common or easy, and what is uncommon or hard, and seeing
how a cumulative series of harder or uncommon things add up to a very low probability of an event being hoaxed. It is purely argumentative,
and other people can put different considerations into the formula and probably come up with different results, but it may have value
as an exercise in estimating likelyhood of things happening.
While I try to make these
notes relatively serious and matter-of-fact, I couldn't resist using the informal term "Flab" to describe what appeared to be soft
tissue deposits on the body of "Patty" And then I discussed both how such contours might be found on living creatures, as well as
discussing the history and use of "Flab" effects in "Fat suits" where makeup artists make actors and actresses look far heavier in
body weight than they actually are. The concerns about the body seen in the PG Film are also diagrammed for reference.
This study is a research idea I had after looking at the film and various stills
for months and listening to various arguments and opinions about how much or little reliable data can in fact be drawn out of the
film and various still frames. It seems there's a lot of guessing as to how much data can be reliably obtained, so I thought it would
be valuable for all concerned if some kind of study actually did test how much data can be extracted from a 16mm film of something
furry, under circumstances like the original film was taken. These notes describe the concept and the suggestion of how it can be
implimented, as a research program. Funding is required and I haven't worked that out yet, but I remain confident the basic idea
is worthy of pursuing.
There are several very curious lines in the fur around
the hip and pelvis area of the figure seen in the film, and most critics of the film tend to point them out as the obvious indications
of a suit. These notes look at multiple frames of the film and track these shadow lines to study how much variance they have in different
frames, and discuss how fabricated suit flaws that might cause such lines tend to be more consistant in structure than these lines
studied. There is a chart showing the frames studied and the lines on the body which are of concern.