NOT SO long ago, comic books about local superheroes and mythical characters fed the imagination of most Filipinos. But with rapid technological advancement, TV special effects and costume designer Noel Flores is now challenged to feed the imagination of his viewers with visual effects never thought to come to fruition during the comic-book generation.

Flores says he takes his time when conceptualizing characters and effects for his projects. But at the end of the day he lets the child in him finish the work.

“If there is a project, I do not jump into it right away. I would first refresh or ‘reformat my hard drive.’ After I have done all these, it is time for me to play with my 12-year-old self,” says the UST College of Fine Arts and Design professor.

Hard work, dedication, and proper attitude have been Flores’ mantra from the first movie project he delivered, Kokey in 1997, until his recent projects: GMA Network’s primetime shows Encantadia, Atlantika, Darna and Joaquin Bordado, among others.

“(Survival and success) in my field depends on your mindset. You really have to love your job. Loving your job has a big effect in conditioning your mind,” he explains.

An Advertising graduate of the old College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Flores’ rise to the top was not as easy as picking cherries.

In 1992, an art director saw Flores drawing sketches of characters on campus, telling the latter that he should work for his special effects company.

In 1994, before graduation from college, Flores joined the company as story board artist and creative director.

His adventure in the special effects world started with Mountain Rock Productions, where he worked as an apprentice. From there, opportunities continued to present themselves until he finally became a full-fledged special-effects artist.

In 1995, Flores graduated from college. His first major break also came. He was asked to do the special effects for the children’s movie Kokey which was released in 1997.

“It was fun (doing Kokey). I made around 50 studies which was relatively easy because it was an alien character,” he says.

Flores then ventured into television, working as special effects artist in children’s entertainment programs, such as Hiraya Manawari, Bayani, and Epol Apple.

Although he was already gaining prominence in the special effects industry, Flores did not rest on his laurels. From 1999 to 2003, he took up post-graduate studies in various universities, focusing on prosthetics and cinema effects to improve his craft. Finally, in 2003, a more-equipped Flores returned to the television work. This time, he was already the special effects supervisor for GMA’s Mulawin. He also worked on Encantadia, where he got to showcase his artistic prowess in using prosthetics make-up—-a process of using artificial materials to create special effects.

Flores says working for film differed a lot from working for television. “With film, you have a very short time to perfect the scenes. But with television, you have longer time to make things right and there is more room for improvement,” he explains.

Flores says that his most challenging work to date is with Atlantika, where his team had to deal with the forces of nature. He recounts that forces of nature like the weather, the costumes they designed had to endure the hostile environment of the sea.

“These works went through a month’s work of testing, trial and error, and had to be submerged in the water with or without the actor,” Flores says.

He also worked magic on films such as Shake, Rattle and Roll 9, Resiklo, which won Best Picture in the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival in 2007 and Shake, Rattle and Roll 11 where Flores won Best Festival Make up in the recent Metro Manila Film Festival.

Flores has indeed gone far in making special effects: from children’s shows to the competitive primetime programs on television. What were once just seen from mere comic strips have already been ‘materialized’ in Technicolor and three-dimensional forms.

Flores has truly helped widen the Filipinos’ imagination.


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