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Photo essay: how make-up and visual effects brought Max Headroom to life

Max Headroom was ostensibly a computer-generated character, but Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel knew early on that the technology wasn't there to make that happen. The solution was to place actor Matt Frewer in prosthetic make-up with special contact lenses and a fiberglass suit, light him with a single light source that mimicked the primitive computer graphics of the time, and then shoot him against a blue screen so backgrounds could be added later.

Below we see how make-up and visual effects artists John Humphreys and Peter Litten created Max, from the early exploratory designs until Matt Frewer walked onto the stage. You can read our complete oral history of Max Headroom right here.

The make-up and design of Max Headroom

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An early concept for the Max Headroom make-up. Image courtesy of Peter Litten.