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Extreme Makeovers (buffy mention)

Holly E. Thomas

Saturday 28 October 2006, by Webmaster

For Hollywood Makeup Artists, Glamour and Gore Are All in a Day’s Work

Whether they’re creating angels or demons, beauty queens or corpses, makeup artists attempt to work small miracles every day — convincing viewers that their creations are real.

Sometimes, even the most veteran makeup artists get spooked by their handiwork, as Cindy Barlow did on the set of the Spike TV series "Blade."

"One episode I did had a boogeyman, and he had glowing contacts that showed up when he was hiding in the bushes," Barlow said. "To this day, I still get scared by that."

Other artists find that creating the real thing is much more disturbing. "Doing fantasy stuff is very simple, and I’m not frightened by imaginary creatures," said Todd McIntosh, who was head makeup artist for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." "But it’s a much more visceral thing to try to make someone’s head look chopped off. Making a living person look dead is scarier for me."

Thanks to today’s sophisticated audiences, makeup artists not only have to portray their subjects accurately, but also must make them look good on camera.

"These shows revolve around supernatural activity, and audiences these days are pretty jaded," McIntosh said. "Everyone has seen the making of ’The Lord of the Rings,’ so they know what goes into this, and they expect top-notch special effects."

Barlow, head makeup artist for the upcoming ABC Family miniseries "Fallen," relies on her study of forensic pathology to make her creations credible.

"It comes in handy when I’m trying to show that someone is dead," Barlow said. "I have to consider how long they’ve been dead, or if they’ve been buried. Even the time of year is important."

For shows that focus on real-life scenarios, such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," makeup artists spend a large part of their time doing research. Attention to the human body and the decomposition process is what primarily distinguishes special-effects makeup from its cosmetic counterparts.

"When I’m changing someone’s look to make them more beautiful, I focus on the eye color, eyebrows, teeth, ears and hair," said Matthew Mungle, prosthetic artist and head of makeup for "CSI." "But if you need someone to be disfigured, you need to do a lot of research and figure out how they should look and why they look that way."

Mungle, who also heads the makeup departments on the sets of "House," "NCIS" and "Justice," said a key element of good makeup is preparation.

"If we need to do an [on-screen] autopsy, we use dummies for the ones that have been through more trauma," Mungle said. "We have a set of dummy bodies ready to go in our lab, and we just add a face cast of the actor to finish it off."

Despite makeup artists’ hard work on set, their success is determined by what viewers at home see.

"You have to be able to see through the lens of a camera and know the right balance of details and general makeup," McIntosh said. "That ability to see what things look like in the medium that you’re working in is most important."

Mungle agreed. "I actually think less blood makes for better makeup," he said. "Sometimes [producers] don’t want us to use too much blood on TV, so we have to create wounds and use less blood than would actually be there. It really shows our artistry — anyone can just throw blood on a set."

Makeup artists don’t get the on-screen time their creations get, but their work can make or break a show, lending it a sense of reality or, worse, artifice.

"One of my characters went into the lunchroom with his full makeup on, and he was asked to leave because no one could eat," Barlow said proudly. "When people say, ’Oh my God, that’s so scary,’ then you know you’ve done a good job." Halloween DIY

To concoct creepy creations at home, makeup artists suggest using products found in grocery stores, which allow for easy cleanup and less chance of irritation.

For different skin textures (burned, scarred or lumpy), apply a paste of water and either oatmeal or dry cereals.

For blood , mix corn syrup and red food coloring.

Mix flour and water for a simple adhesive .

Use eyelash glue or spirit gum (found at costume stores) to attach heavier objects .

Prepare gelatin and apply to the skin, then paint it with cream makeup to make scars or burns . For zombies, apply tissue paper to the gelatin before it dries.

To make a scab , apply a mixture of coffee grounds and sugar using a "glue" made from flour and water. Use lipstick under the "scab" for inflamed skin. With HDTV, Making Up Is Harder to Do

The advent of high-definition television means makeup magicians must pay more attention to detail than ever before.

"When you do regular TV, you can get away with a lot more," said "Blade" makeup artist Cindy Barlow. "When I do high-definition shows, I treat it as a feature film, which means when I look into the mirror at an actor, that’s what the camera will see."

"CSI’s" Matthew Mungle thinks HDTV will force the industry to produce better artists. "You’ll have to watch what you do more, watch how much paint and makeup you use, and be more artistic," he said.