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The Daily Ouch – Wonderlab Staff Take a Beating


Howdy, filmmakers, horror buffs, and masochists of the World! This is Xander, the WonderLab’s Production Designer, here to tell you about my most recent project, The Daily Ouch

I’m always looking to expand my skill sets as a special effects artist. And in the film industry, one of the most common and practical uses for special effects is injuries. If you’re like me, you’ve been impressed, awed, and straight-up traumatized by many a movie ouchie. Remember when Beatrix turned O-Ren’s dome into a mesa? Great stuff. Kick-ass injuries have been at the heart of so many iconic films. And behind each of them was an artist who knew exactly what they were doing. 

I created this project for my own growth, as well as to expand the WonderLab’s special effects portfolio. My goal was to represent a wide diversity of wounds to show that we can do it all, from your everyday barfight black eye to a mouthwatering gangrene infection. For the next 15 weekdays, I created a different injury on a different WonderLab employee.

It’s easy to underestimate how much goes into pulling off a realistic wound. On top of special effects finesse, it can take a sophisticated understanding of anatomy and how the body responds to harm. This is a journey that I’m just beginning, which is why it’s important for me to get this experience in a low-risk environment. The average person is easy to impress, but eagle-eyed film critics are not. 

There are infinite ways to create the same injury. Depending on the artist’s approach, even something as simple as a rash can look wildly different. Most of the wounds I created were completely new to me, so each time I would do a bit of research, getting inspiration from both real examples and special effects tutorials. It was my first time making maggots, sculpting bone, and doing makeup on a foot.

I corresponded with Jasmine, our Creative Director, to devise the project’s aesthetic. We agreed to place the victims on a stainless steel table to set them in a morgue and photograph the wounds in scathing detail. Afterward, Jasmine edited them to mimic a polaroid style and created a custom font in Photoshop. 

I’m really happy with how the project turned out. All of the injuries had room for improvement, but each one taught me something. Seeing everyone’s reactions was fun. People were intrigued and grossed out, some even experiencing phantom pain when looking at their injuries. 

I accomplished each ouchie in under an hour and with materials already existing in our inventory. When needed, we’re prepared to source specialty prosthetics and create injuries of far greater scope and detail. At the WonderLab we just keep getting better at what we do, and I’m very much looking forward to applying what I’ve learned to future film projects. The next time you need a special effects wound, you know who to turn to!

As always, I’d like to thank the WonderLab for giving me this learning opportunity and putting complete trust in me. My coworkers had a great attitude and were totally awesome to work with.

Check out the gallery of wounds below, as well as the upcoming behind-the-scenes video of this project!