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Easy-to-Clean Black Slime Monster FX - Chemistry or Readymade?

Hey there SWS! Loving the courses. We're using the Garbage Bag monster techniques to bring to life an amorphous tentacle creature. We're following the rule of not showing the monster, so we may not have a full hero build. But we need to see its effects everywhere-- really dark, slick, shiny slime. It's gunna be messy.

We're looking at methylcell. We're looking at some peroxide reactions as a foam propellant for some expanding silicon molds. But what we haven't hit yet is any chemistry or substance - homemade or prebought - to decorate locations, which will clean up easy and not leave any stain or residue. Food coloring is a pretty concentrated dye and it would leave a wall or carpet pretty stained, so we're looking at some chemical reactions.

It seems simple, but if we're borrowing ppl's houses we need to leave them spic and span. I dream of something like those oxy-clean infomertials, after the shoot you pour it on and everything turns clear and rinses away from carpet and such. Any suggestions?

Thanks
Jeff

Answers

  • Hi Jeff, 

    This reminds me of a goo mixture I have used on skin. It's xanthan gum, water, and food coloring. The messiness of it varies depending on the ratios of amounts between those three ingredients. You can have a whole lot of water and not much xanthan gum, and it makes a runny, snot like goo, or even basically just water, and it will be translucent. If you use a ton of food coloring it stains skin. But you can make it thicker and neater.

    I had to do chroma-key green goo on an actor's face for something we shot guerrilla style in a busy club. I needed something that was bright, solid, opaque green, and that would stick to the actor's moving sweaty face well, and that could be wiped off the face and not leave a stain. I added a lot more xanthan gum than usual, and the result was a much thicker, opaque goo. Then I only needed like one drop of green food coloring and it was a great solid, opaque, bright green. It also didn't stain the actor's skin. And it stuck to the actor's face great. I used a kitchen blender appliance to mix all this. 

    Anyway I guess this isn't really the answer you're looking for cuz I was still using food coloring - but a lesson I learned was that making the goo a lot thicker, i.e. with a lot more xanthan gum, allowed me to use much less food coloring and thereby avoid staining. 
  • Hi Ben,

    This doesn't answer our question about what we could use on walls and carpet-- but it does give us something to test on actors. Thanks.
  • Chris EllerbyChris Ellerby Los Angeles Admin
    Making slime is easy, but cleanup from walls and carpets is going to be a problem if you use any kind of dyes or pigments.

    I would use a powdered lubricant slime, as that gives you the best stringy effects.  The lubricant powders are water-based and come under a lot of different brand names like J-Lube or PolyLube.  They can often be found in large quantities at farm supply companies as they are used to assist the birth of livestock.  They are a polyethylene polymer, and the ratio of powder to water will determine how slimy/stringy it gets.  

    If you just need thick (non-stringy) slime you can use methyl cellulose powder and warm water.

    When it comes to clean up, those are water based and should clean up well, but when it comes to different paint finishes/surfaces on walls and different fabrics/carpets it's always advisable to do a small test before making a big mess.

    The problem is going to be the dye or pigment you use, and your wanting black makes it more challenging since that typically requires a lot of dye or pigment.

    My suggestion would be to use black flocking (small fibers) in your slime for the color.  As they are not a dye or a pigment they will not stain other surfaces.  Cleanup will still have its challenges, but it's much safer.  This is done in the industry a lot with fake bloods (using red flocking) when cleanup and staining of the set/wardrobe is a concern.   The fibers are small enough not to be visible beyond the color they lend to the mixture, especially if you don't need an extreme closeup.

    You can mix up another batch using a pigment or dye that you can use for closeups or cutaways that don't require making a mess in a borrowed location.

    You can also take additional steps to protect the house.  

    For all areas that will not be in frame, and where your crew will be moving, cover the floors in plywood, cardboard, or drop clothes.  This helps prevent your effects materials from being tracked around (a huge problem) and also protects the home from a lot of crew coming in and out hauling gear and setting things up.  Just make sure whatever protective material you put down on the floors is properly secured/taped so it will not slide or create tripping hazards.

    Protecting walls in high traffic areas, or door frames, is also highly advisable.  The most common damage is typically something like a c-stand bumping into things when it's being moved in and out of location.

    You can also get protective covers for shoes, and require any crew member going near the slime to put them on to help limit tracking.

    Another option is to get carpeting that you can cut and lay down on top of the home's existing carpeting (with a plastic barrier below it to prevent fluids from transferring)  Depending on furniture placement and what kind of coverage you need this can be pretty easy to pull off.

    You can do the same with walls by covering them with a facade, but that can get a bit more complicated.

    /Chris
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