What do "The Exorcist," "Stand by Me," "Blockers," and "Big Little Lies" have in common?
A vomit scene.
For every disgusting vomit scene in a movie, there's an effects team that actually had to make the stuff, and an actor who had to sell it.
Hi, everyone. My name is Ben.
Today, I'm heading to NYSPFX in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and I'm gonna see how fake puke is made for movies and TV.
And I couldn't be more excited, because I'm gonna get to try some of it myself.
Grab a snack.
Mmm, you might not want to eat while you watch this.
This is Mike Myers, a special effects artist and the founder of NYSPFX.
Myers and his team created some of the coolest practical effects for the Batman prequel show "Gotham" and can do everything from breakaway glass to fake blood.
But today is all about the puke, which Myers executed flawlessly in the 2015 film "While We're Young."
Watch the carpet.
Fake vomit comes in all shapes, sizes, and textures.
It can be made to look realistic or exaggerated, depending on the scene and genre.
In "While We're Young," they used a combination of potato-leek and split-pea soup.
We're attempting today Top Ramen to give that squiggly, soft noodle projectile nastiness to hopefully stick to someone's lip when they're done.
Today, we have some frozen berries that we're gonna mix up.
All right, so here comes the tomato paste.
A little thickener, little color.
So, we have tomato paste.
That just splashed all over me, perfect.
You're in the splash zone.
Look how good that looks.
This looks very familiar to me. But not too familiar.
For this experiment, we used three different types of puke.
So, we got our first fake puke right there.
That's peas and water.
And then this was a nice mix of ramen, water, and tomato paste.
And so now we've got berries, right.
Third one is gonna have berries and water.
Just water, yeah.
This is definitely the kind of fake vomit that's gonna stain my clothing.
Yes, for sure.
But I anticipated that, so I wore my jeans that have pizza on them already, so.
Once we had the mixtures, it was time to load them into the tubes.
Now, this stage is actually just as important to making convincing fake puke as the actor who has to sell the scene.
The pumps that we utilize are made for liquids, not vomit, thick, pasty substances.
We use our main liquid as our propellant and then in the vertical tubes on the pumping incorporate the thicker paste that will then be pushed upward and outward first.
The mixture also needed to be this texture for another reason: realism.
The medium-density, thick part of the mixture will be fed into the top of the tubes, and the rest that comes out will be more like liquid, which Myers says follows the pattern of real-life vomit.
Yeah, that looks really gross.
I needed a little acting advice first.
When they have to, like, regurgitate and project, there does have to be some body motion involved, but it pretty much has to say if there's my hose and if I'm regurgitating, I can't (retches) go up because then my hose is coming out of my mouth.
So he has to know to only go forward and open his mouth wide and keep his mouth open.
'Cause if he closes his mouth and the vomit's still coming out, what a wasted take that is.
OK, we're gonna do this whole bucket.
Yeah, that's about 8 gallons of worth of...
Yeah, that's a lot.
This is probably the chunkiest mixture.
And there was going to be a lot of it.
Three, two, one.
One, one hundred, two.
Three, two, one.
One, one hundred, two.
I think getting the timing right is, like, the first initial challenge.
You hear it coming up, and so, like, as long as you're just kinda, like, you know, ready to go, then you're good to go.
The pea-soup mixture is different for several reasons.
It's mixed with a lot of water, making it a lot more liquidy.
And for this, they instead use a pressure pot with clear tubes attached.
I'm like the guy in the group project that doesn't help, but still gets an A anyways.
This hose allows you the flexibility where you're not rigid.
So, because you have a guy behind you, you can go left, right, up, down, turn to that camera and splash it.
Do you want me to puke on you?
Puke near you? Puke that way?
And you said that it's gonna dribble down my lip?
Once we shut it off, it'll dribble, dribble, dribble.
And that gives some authenticity.
'Cause it's also got a deflector in the front that's gonna spray a little.
This works well for a scene involving out-of-control vomiting.
You might wanna watch out, Nick.
One piece of advice I would give: Aim away from the camera.
I am covered in fake puke, and I'm not the only one.
For some types of puke, no rigs or hoses are required.
Of Facebook and reality...
Oh, my God.
It's the shrimp.
For a spit take, a member of the effects team would scoop a little bit of fake puke up.
Oop, that seems like a lot.
And the actor would swallow it and then spit it up.
Yeah, that's pretty good.
How did that look, guys?
That looked great.
Should I do some more?
How'd it taste?
Actually, really good.
There's always room for a little improvement.
Are there any tips you can give me for how to improve my performance?
Well a good thing to do would just a little more retching.
A little shoulder movement, a little try to sell it a little more.
And even if you put your hand in front, and get a little bit more, you know, separate where it's coming from.
Maybe a little bit coming down on yourself.
All right, no problem.
I felt like I was in the most control.
I could kind of, obviously, I could time it myself.
I didn't have to, to time it up with the rig or anything like that, which I think allowed me to get more into my performance.
Love berries, so...
That spit take is the one for me.
And with no tubes to cover up nor massive sprays to avoid, the camera can look straight on to the actor.
However, there are many ways to hide these pesky tubes.
Sometimes, they're simply taken out in post-production.
Other times, it's all about where you place the camera.
And while CGI is used to aid the process, fake-vomit scenes are still largely done practically.
More work than you can imagine goes into creating something that, in the end, might just be on screen for a couple of seconds, but can still be the most memorable moment of any given movie or TV show.
But it could be cool.
If these would get stained with berry juice, then it might actually be kind of a cool look.