Portraying transformations

Some time ago, I was in a chat room for fans of transformation. And I got in a conversation with one person over how transformations are portrayed in movies and television.

For most of my life, I had to settle for transformations being done as what I call “point ‘n’ poof.” The person causing the transformation would point at the person being transformed and, the next second, they would be transformed. Sometimes there’s a puff of smoke that covers the transformation. Point ‘n’ poof was convenient for things like “Bewitched,” which was only a half-hour and didn’t have time for in-depth, detailed transformations.

Then, in the late 80s to early 90s, morphing technology came along, and I loved it. You could record a program, get to a transformation, and then slow down to see the morphed transformation take place. It wasn’t perfect by any means, I remember all-too-well a scene in the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” TV movie which led to the series. In the scene, Sabrina turns a rival into a poodle. When slowing down the morph, you saw that the arm and leg of the rival switched places, with the leg becoming the front leg and the arm becoming the back leg. OUCH!

But then, after the “Sabrina” TV series had run for a couple of seasons, there was a scene where two girls were turned into zebras. And the person I was talking about this with in the chat room said he didn’t like it because it was “a cheap morph.” He wanted to see transformations done with make-up and prosthetics. I tried to explain that most budgets for TV series wouldn’t allow for prosthetics, and showing the process that way would eat up time. But he insisted it could be done because the “Goosebumps” series had done it to give a girl the head of a pig. I later investigated and found it was an “Ultimate Goosebumps” episode which apparently had a bigger budget. And it was in three parts.

I will be the first to admit that makeup has been responsible for some impressive transformations in movies. Back in 1931, for the Frederic March version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” the change from one to the other was very well done. (And March took the Best Actor Oscar that year for the role, though he shared it in a rare tie with Wallace Beery, who also won for “The Champ.) Then, in the 1940s, Lon Chaney Jr. went through what was often described as a grueling make-up process to become The Wolf Man. If a studio can do an effective transformation with make-up and prosthetics, more power to it.

Then, this past weekend, I finally got around to watching a Christmas present from a friend, all three “Swan Princess” movies on DVD. The friend knew I was into transformations, but I didn’t tell her what a disappointment these movies were. Animation, be it traditional or CGI, should be perfect for showing a transformation. But, in the Swan Princess trilogy, when Odette is changing into a swan, a wall of light surrounds her concealing her transformation. (However, Prince Derek’s mother, Queen Umberta, undergoes several transformations unconcealed, probably for comedic effect. I’m not that into transformations of the elderly, but there may have been some people watching it who are. It would appeal to fans of the transformation of authority figures, which I’ll talk about in the future.)

The same thing happens in “The Princess and the Frog.” Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie. But, when the transformation happens, Prince Naveen and Tiana give off glows that conceal the change.

There have been transformations in cartoons that we were able to see happen. One that comes to mind was in “Broomstick Bunny,” a Warners Halloween cartoon in which Bugs Bunny is up against Witch Hazel, who is determined to stay as ugly as she can, but Bugs accidentally slips her a beautifying potion, and we learned that Chuck Jones, when he wanted to, could draw babes. Also, in “Bewitched Bunny,” Bugs accidentally changes Hazel into a female rabbit.

I can remember one VERY quick transformation in the Our Gang/Little Rascals short “Shrimps for a Day.” In this short, a young couple, Dick and Mary, find Aladdin’s lamp and turn themselves into children (played by a couple of little people, George and Olive Brasno). Their rejuvenation is point ‘n’ poof with smoke. When they change back to themselves, Dick’s transformation happens offscreen. (A REALLY disappointing kind of transformation for TF lovers — It’s the reason why I don’t like the “Bewitched” two-parter in which Nancy Kovack is transformed into a blond (!) chimpanzee, a transformation that isn’t shown!) But then, when Mary changes back into an adult, they impose photos in a rapid sequence showing the change. Thanks to DVDs these days, you can see the change in slow motion and freeze frame.

A different kind of transformation happened in the movie “Captain Sindbad,” which starred Guy Williams between his gigs in “Zorro” and “Lost in Space.” In this movie, Princess Jana (played by the sadly late Heidi Bruhl) learns the evil ruler is planning a trap for Sindbad, her boyfriend. She begs the good court magician into to turn her into a flame bird so she can fly out to sea to warn him. For this transformation, somewhat logically, the magician casts a spell on her and she the shrinks to the size of the bird. As she shrinks, we see her fire-filled outline dwindling until, at the end, there’s a little poof and she’s the flame bird. Her transformation back has a bonus for shrinking fans, as she’s turned back into a human, but is still bird-size. And she is changed back while the evil ruler is holding the bird in his hand, so she’s tiny and naked (she had to undress for the initial transformation because, as the magician tells her, “I can’t grow feathers on silk!”) Here is a still of the Princess in her tiny state.

I’m sure there are lots (probably LOTS) more methods of depicting transformations that I’ve forgotten.

Do my followers have any favorite methods of or scenes of transformation they’d like to share?

Schnopzilla at https://www.deviantart.com/schnopszilla – A good cartoony style, very good at depicting stages of transformation, starting human and ending animal or AR. Sometimes, if you commission it, he will go backwards from animal to human. Good, reasonable rates. He usually does black-and-white

Cosmotrama Studios at — https://www.ebay.com/str/cosmotramastudiofbclid=IwAR2Rge6AgUCkcDHNzrONkpd46GeVOsR-GSZKA73IR7cbDle5eb5CRy2DoM — A group in Brazil, they are a little expensive, but worth it! They did my four-page “Possible AR” series. They have several artists you can chose from and find one whose style is what you want. The unbelievable color for “Possible AR” was supplied by https://www.deviantart.com/pikotime who was recommended for me by LadyKraken, who I will get to in a minute. If you decide to commission from any of these people, check with them to find out their rates first — which, of course, you should always do before commissioning from any one.

Lady Kraken at https://www.deviantart.com/ladykraken , a wonderful, friendly artist in Spain, she also has a site at Patreon and other places. If you can afford it, do try to become a member for her on Patreon. She does incredible work, and has (so far) done six art pieces for me. I don’t think there’s a commission you can give her that she won’t or can’t do. She’s even done some “reverse” TFs in which certain little ponies and their princesses become human.

Lady-Nin-Chan (Nina) at https://www.deviantart.com/ladynin-chan has a manga/anime style. She did my seven(!)-page “Convincing the CEO” story. She does her best to work with you to make sure you get what you want.

immortal tom at https://www.deviantart.com/immortaltom is good at weird stuff, sexy stuff, sexy weird stuff. He did my “Global news” piece, which may be the strangest TF in my dART gallery. Let him know what you want first, to make sure it isn’t TOO strange for him, but it seldom will be.

Inspector97 https://www.deviantart.com/inspector97 has a good style, and he has good rates for doing a main picture and then subsequent drawings on the same page — excellent if you want to have sequential art showing the stages of a transformation.

Finally, there is Greg Woronchak at https://sorethumbgraphics.webs.com . He’s done very good comics pages for me, both in color and black and white. At the time of this posting, his four-page “Dogged Psychologist” art is near the top of my gallery. He will work with you in doing your pages, and send them to you from Canada.

In case anyone isn’t familiar with the pieces I’ve mentioned, here’s my gallery: https://www.deviantart.com/fmtfluver/gallery/ I hope this blog entry has been helpful in encouraging people to commission art, and, if they are artists themselves (I’m not, which is why I commission stuff), maybe it will encourage them to accept TF commissions.

One thought on “Portraying transformations

  1. I definitely think animation is a really good medium to portray transformations. Live action even with good use of prosthetics and CGI look awkward and weird to me, but that might just be my opinion. I don’t think all poofs are poorly done too; I think the way it was handled in the Princess and the Frog was done quite well; they chose not to show the transformation to allow for a bit of suspense in the story. There are a couple scenes that are basically poof scenes that are some of my favorites; it all comes down to the final execution. There are also scenes with very well done transformation scenes that fall flat for me because the characterization or responses are poorly done.

    On a side note, the scene in Swan Princess 2 where Queen Umberta is transformed into a variety of animals in short succession is one of my favorite scenes. I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of transforming elderly in general, but just the way the transformations flow into one another and the context surrounding it is a lot of fun in my opinion.

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