All posts for the month March, 2014

Face Off Season 6 Episode 11: Mutations!

Published March 26, 2014 by vfdpixie

The remaining artists realized how tight the competition was getting.  They also realized that after all the women were eliminated, this boy’s club had to step up their game as the finale looms ahead.

For their Spotlight Challenge, they headed to the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, a state of the art facility where my favourite judge, Neville Page, serves as an advisor.  He described the school as the “M.I.T. of visual effects” where films like The Avengers, Prometheus and The Wolverine had their effects created.  The challenge this time took from Spider-Man and The Hulk:  mutations.  There were 6 snazzy looking monitors with 6 strands of DNA.  The artists had to create an original mutant that physically manifested one of the DNA traits assigned to them. Neville advised them to really push themselves creatively as they manifested these traits.  The coolest part?  They had ZBrush artists from Pixilogic to help them create their mutants.  It was really inspiring to see the digital artists bring concepts to life as the Face Off contestants described traits and features of their creations.  On Elimination Day, they were joined once again by makeup artist Valli O’Reilly, who has worked on Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and  Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, as a guest judge.

George’s trait was Impenetrable Skin.  He decided on an armadillo looking mutant.  During the Westmore walk-through, he suggested that George concentrate on the mutant’s front features instead of wasting his time on the back.  Unfortunately, his physical pain reared its ugly head again.  His shoulder started to hurt and slow him down.  As an aside, I hope he has since see a chiropractor.  That was the single most helpful thing that got me standing and working out again after a back injury (from being a makeup artist).  It is one of the main things, along with acupuncture, that is keeping me on my feet now during a hip injury (from being a runner).  Anyway, he made it through and, despite the pain and worry, got his molds done.  It was nice to see him and Rashaad discuss how much they missed their significant others, especially as George is about to be a father!  These are really stand-up guys!  George had to rework his design so it fit his model, and he managed to create a decent looking mutant with a neat profile.  The judges felt he could have put more definition in the skin tone, but he ended up safe.

Daran worked on Panoramic Vision.  His mutant was to have an interesting extension of her eyes by way of a mask-like growth on the face and the back of her head.  He was told by Mr. Westmore to change his concept slightly so the judges would understand the makeup.  He decided on L.E.D. lights to animate the mask so it would convey the panoramic aspect.  He had all the lights lined up with the face appliance but they slid out when the model stood up.  He lost time trying to fix it and had to scrap the whole idea, missing out on a better paint job.  The end result was not that clear.  The judges thought it looked like a blue turtle.  They thought the shapes were cool but were not emphasized by the colours.  They didn’t get the concept and thought that it didn’t look like it was panoramic.  Ve told him that he couldn’t just throw out weird ideas and hope it sticks.  He was in the bottom looks.

Rashaad got Elasticity.  His design called for an octopus-like character.  Mr. Westmore told him to accentuate the pulling aspect of his trait, so Rashaad pulled out the mutant’s features even more.  During last looks, he had a suction cup scramble as he put on the final features, and came up with a creature that, to me, didn’t look too stretched out.  I thought it was a good character, but it just didn’t fit the challenge.  The judges liked the colours he used, and he was safe this week.

Graham’s DNA trait was Tunneling.  He went for a subterranean mole man who wore a helmet.  Mr. Westmore told him to paint the makeup well so that you could see the details and make it look dirty.  Graham worried that the concept was too simple, but charged on, using horns as a mold for giant claws.  He was hilarious as he put a voice to his character who was jealous of everyone else’s mutations.  I didn’t mind the character, but the judges thought it was too obvious a choice for the trait, and they felt it didn’t play out.  Technically, Ve didn’t like how the head and cowl lacked flow.  Valli thought the teeth popped out too much, one of the claws was falling off, and the overall concept didn’t play out.  He was in bottom looks.

Tyler got Wall Crawling.  He created an insect-like criminal with big hands and hair protrusions resembling that of a fly.  He decided to do a body suit to step it up.  He had to alter the suit because it was too big for the model, and he fabricated each hair with foam noodles.  He suffered with the time crunch this time around, and was fabricating those hairs right up to the last minute in last looks.  This turned out to be a really interesting character.  The judges liked the colour blending and the creepy eyes.  Ve liked it better up close, and Neville pointed out the beauty in the nose and mouth.  Glenn thought it was “superb” and felt he nailed the mutation challenge.  The subtle layering of the paint job got Tyler a spot in top looks.

Niko worked with Magnetism.  He created a mutant with coiled muscles with magnet hands.   Mr. Westmore advised him to make the details look like actual coils.  Niko took this to heart and despite the time crunch, made individual coils.  He also sculpted the face and chest at the same time to make them cohesive.  The end result was a great overall look with a great paint job.  Glenn felt it was Giger-esque and they all thought it was a gorgeous and unique idea.  Neville did say that it was a better costume design than makeup, but he still thought it was a good-looking character.  Niko’s “meticulous application” also found him a spot in the top looks.

Out of the top looks, even though Niko was praised for his impressive detail and paint job, Tyler was the winner this week.  The judges loved that his character showed that it was mid-transformation and evoked emotion.  Glenn thought it was a rare thing to strike a balance between villainous and empathetic, and applauded Tyler for achieving this.

The person to go home this week was Graham.  I was sad to see him go, because he has great ideas and is really fun, but the judges thought at this point in the competition, his concept was too conventional.  They wished him well in his blossoming future.  He had no regrets as he had a lot of fun and left the show feeling like he could actually succeed in this business.  I totally agree and hope to see more of his work soon!


Face Off Season 6 Episode 10: Roald Dahl’s Whimsical Beasties

Published March 19, 2014 by vfdpixie

Rashaad contemplated his place on the bottom last week with Graham.  It left him feeling “weird” because he thought for sure he was going home instead of Corrine.  He knew he had to “dig deep” because he realized the slightest mistake could send him home.

For the Spotlight Challenge, they all met at the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena where there were lots of hands on activities for fun learning.  McKenzie introduced them to the works of Roald Dahl like James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox, and his screenwriter daughter Lucy Dahl.  To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of my favourite books and movies, the artists had to create a wild and whimsical beast from the book and world of Roald Dahl.  These creatures have only ever been described as the “most dangerous beasts in the world” who prey on Oompa Loompas and have never actually been seen.  After they picked a giant crayon with their creature’s name on it, Lucy Dahl advised them to create an exaggerated version of whatever they created, whether it was nice or horrible.  She joined the judges on Elimination Day and was blown away by their talent.

Rashaad picked the Whangdoodle.  He went for a ying and yang creature, with one side being straight and the other more silly.  He wanted to go for contrast, so the colour scheme was black and white.  Mr. Westmore advised him to create a good transition with the paint, so he made sure to go for gradation from black to white.  I love his little self pep-talks as he worked away in his own world.  He seems like a cool, fun guy.  Instead of sculpting his torso, he went for fabrication with LD-200 foam.  The judges liked it and saw how much work he put into the design and execution, and Lucy said the creature’s claws could easily slice open an Oompa Loompa.  He was safe.

George chose a Vermicious Knid.  He created a rabbit-like creature with a strange beastie in its chest.  When Mr. Westmore saw his design, he felt it needed more power and exaggeration.  He warned George that it couldn’t be too subtle or too human.  That freaked him out a bit and he had to rework the design.  I was afraid it was going to look like a Donnie Darko rip-off, but he managed to create a unique looking creature.  I personally didn’t like the paint, but the judges liked the colour choice, and they thought it looked liked a skinned bunny.  They also liked that the face appliance allowed the model to create a good deal of facial expression.  He too was safe.

Chloe made a Vernicious Knid as well.  She designed a venus fly trap-type creature that lured the Oompa Loomas and snatched them up when they got close.  She struggled with her concept and also with her time.  She spent a lot of time tweaking and retweaking her design to the point of desperation, and since she didn’t have time, had to make her cowl out of polyfoam which did not cure properly.  As a result, she had to scrap the cowl and created a costume around her face appliance.  Ironically, Rashaad told her if she took risks, she should do it well.  Unfortunately, time was not on her side, and she was really worried with the end product.  I thought it looked like a head of lettuce with vagina dentata.  The judges said that there wasn’t much to the look compared to the other characters.  They knew she was better than this and acknowledged her struggles with the fabrication.  They noted that some highlighting and shading with the paint would have made the makeup better, but the concept didn’t work overall.   If I heard him correctly, I think Glenn said it reminded him of the Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock…ouch!  She was in the bottom looks.

Graham chose the Snozzwangler .  He wanted to create an elephant-like, safari hunter character with the nose coming out of the forehead who trapped Oompa Loompas.  The nostrils would serve as eye holes for the model to see through.  Mr. Westmore liked the nose idea, and even though Graham knew the feature had no anatomical function, he thought it was a fun and cool aspect of the makeup.  The end result was a really whimsical and funny creature.  He really added a lot of details like eye stalks coming through the pith helmet, Oompa Loompa skulls on his belt and “snozzberry” Oompa Loompa bait.  Glenn thought it was genius, and felt he proved that it was the right decision to grant him immunity and keep him in the competition.  Lucy thought he channelled her father and knocked it out of the park.  Ve liked the creature’s fun house mouth and thought it was like a scary and bizarre kid’s nightmare. They were satisfied that he embraced the child-like whimsy of the challenge.  This granted Graham a spot in top looks.

Tyler’s take on the Whangdoodle was really great.  Being the adorable nerd he is, he was really excited about this challenge.  He designed a worm/cockroach-like creature that dwelled underground and grabbed unsuspecting Oompa Loompas.  Mr. Westmore suggested he use a drippy wet effect and brown hairspray to get that subterranean look.  He used claws for teeth and rings on wire to get that wormy, segmented appearance to the arms.  Rashaad helped out by doing a hilarious “stress test” with Tyler’s worm arms, which shows how well these contestants get along.  The end product was pretty great.  I loved the face, and the judges thought it was stellar, beautiful and expressive.  They told him it was successful because the colour denoted an evil, but still playful, character.  Lucy loved it and assured him that her father would have too.  They all loved the bit of Oompa Loompa hair in the mouth.  Tyler’s creature made it to top looks.

Niko got a Hornswoggler.  He created goofy looking monster with lots of horns on its back.  Mr. Westmore told him to go wild with the skin texture, but all Niko concentrated on was his large, 200 pound body mold which was a lot of trouble to pull off.  He knew the look wasn’t great, calling it a chicken.  He was short on time and the judges noticed this.  They thought he had bit off more than he could chew, and said there was lack of direction and concept.  The creature’s goofy gaze and alien-like look, as well as the “Easter egg colouring” put him in the bottom looks.

Daran also picked a Hornswoggler.  He went for a horned lizard/frog creature which Mr. Westmore liked.  Daran used feathers for hair and created a colourful, whimsical creature that pleased the judges.  This kept him safe for another week.

Out of the top looks, Tyler won.  They were “wowed” by his beast because it looked like he had more time to create his makeup which was evident with the high level of execution and sculpting.  Because Chloe’s makeup was rough and unfinished, the judges picked her to leave the show.  They appreciated the intention, but the concept didn’t work.  I liked her on the show because she is a great sculptor, and I felt that Niko should have gone home, but that’s just my opinion.  I think her downfall was the lack of confidence.  The judges all thought she would do well though.

So far, in my humble opinion, the contenders are Tyler and Daran.  The guys who will come up from behind are George and/or Graham.  Rashaad hasn’t won a challenge yet even though he is consistent, so who knows?  I’m just sad all the ladies are gone.  Anyway, onwards and upwards as we near the exciting last few episodes!

In Fear and the Demise of A Romance

Published March 16, 2014 by vfdpixie

in fear

In Fear (2013, 85 mins)

In Fear was one of the films I was looking forward to seeing.  So far, I have only been disappointed by the movies on my must-see list, but thankfully, this time I was pleasantly surprised.  In the vein of The Hitcher (1986) and Wolf Creek, this no frills thriller delivers lots of tension and suspense on the Irish back roads with just a car, a couple and the dense, dark night.

Tom (Iain de Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are in the early stages of a blossoming romance.  Two weeks into their relationship, Tom plans a road trip to a music festival in Ireland and a surprise overnight stay at a secluded hotel called the Kilairney House Hotel he has found online.  He is quite pleased with his plans to take their romance to the next level, and Lucy agrees to this, although she is slightly annoyed with his surprise.  They follow a hotel guide car deep into the deserted Irish countryside until they arrive at a gate with the hotel sign.  Carrying on without the guide, they are left only with Tom’s printed map, confusing road signs and unsettling occurrences.  When they assist a man they hit on the dark roads, their idyllic trip quickly leads them to a terrifying descent into the unforgiving night and a relentless, unseen stalker.

I love a great road trip movie in any genre, and I really liked this one because of the added psychological horror element.  For some, this story may not be anything new, but in this case, the way it was told was refreshing because it was also a character study.  I have read countless articles in magazines where there is a new relationship tested with a fatal disease, death or other stressful and life-changing events.  Some go the distance, but many can’t withstand the extraordinary circumstances.  In Fear made me think of these articles as we see Tom and Lucy discover things about each other’s personalities that may have revealed themselves further into their relationship, and potentially disappointed them after a longer investment of time.  Their ordeal was an exercise in trust, patience and in the end loyalty that might have shattered a 20 year relationship, let alone one of two weeks.

I liked how as the day got darker and the roads got narrower, the film itself became more claustrophobic.  Each twist and turn in the oncoming darkness made the tension rise, leading us from one mysterious event to another.  I am a stickler for lighting in a film, and the more creative it is, the better.  Director Jeremy Lovering’s minimal lighting design was really effective in creating suspense and dread.  The light source in many of the scenes was limited, making the unknown even more ominous and forcing us to focus on the action at hand.  Many of the camera angles and intense close-ups gave an uncomfortable view of the couple and illustrated their desperation as they became more and more lost literally and figuratively.

In many an interview, Lovering revealed that the dialogue was improvised and details of scenes were kept secret until he felt it necessary to tell the actors.  He did this to create a real sense of fear which I thought was successful.  de Caestecker and Englert gave believable performances as a new couple learning to trust each other on their first trip away together.   Allen Leech brought us a tense portrayal of the ambiguously motivated Max who the couple accidentally run over.  His character provided an interesting turn of events and tested Tom and Lucy’s instincts to the max.

If you are looking for a joyride in the countryside, you’re watching the wrong movie.  In Fear will take you on a tense, claustrophobic drive into a horrific nightscape that holds secrets, psychos and many a frayed nerve.

Face Off Season 6 Episode 9: Mad Makeup Scientists!

Published March 14, 2014 by vfdpixie

As the artist’s numbers dwindle, Graham pondered his luck with winning the special immunity at the last elimination. He didn’t expect it and felt the pressure to create some outstanding work.  George was correct when he stated that the right person got special immunity because I think Graham’s ideas are different and he has so much more to bring us.
The 8 remaining artists headed to the lab where it was transformed into a torture chamber, complete with jars of icky things which they all loved.  For the Spotlight Challenge inspired by the mad scientists of Island of Dr. Moreau, and American Horror Story: Asylum, they had to become their own mad scientists and create human guinea pigs, picking a medical device from a selection that McKenzie provided to inspire their victims.
Graham chose an electro shock device and decided on a reanimated corpse with lights. He wanted to create a clean and cool makeup, and suffered for his art because the lighting device he created actually shocked him a few times!  I really liked this makeup.  I thought the lights were cool and the face really looked like a cadaver.  The judges liked it better up close and felt it told a story.  He was safe this week.
George picked a ribcage opener.  His concept was to create a victim that was opened and stretched with hooks.  He was going at a good pace until his herniated discs flared up, leaving him in a huge amount of pain.  I completely understand this as a back problem was one of the reasons I stopped doing makeup.  It can be painful and debilitating, and I admired him for carrying on.  He pushed through to create a really good effect with some gross looking wounds.  The judges liked the staining on the paint job and they thought was really cool.  Thankfully after all the pain, he was safe.
Chloe picked an antique amputation saw.  She went for a Frankenstein’s monster type victim that came out of a black and white movie.  When Mr. Westmore advised her to make sure her sculpting was more realistic, she really took her time with this sculpt and stayed calm despite the race against time.  Even though she didn’t have time to do an amputation like she had planned for, the judges overlooked it because of the overall beauty of the character.  They thought the black and white concept worked well, and Glenn thought it was a “laudable choice” and unique.  The bold concept and risks that she took set her apart and they thought it was one of her finest makeups. She was in the top looks.
Rashaad chose a trephine, a device that makes circular incisions in skulls. Since he was more of a sci-fi creator, he struggled for a concept and kept drawing a blank. He finally came up with a mad plastic surgeon that made women grotesque instead of beautiful.  This was a great concept and Mr. Westmore advised him to use different flesh tones for a patchwork effect. Sadly, he didn’t take the advice, and his makeup suffered.  The judges thought there wasn’t enough colour variation or defined skin patches, and it didn’t make sense, especially the randomly place jawbone on the model’s chin.  It was, to them, a less than riveting makeup and a not fully realized concept.  He was in the bottom looks.
Tyler used an embalming pump for his conjoined twin creation. He made the two faces twist and wrap around each other.  I really loved this makeup.  It was really creepy and looked like something out of a mad scientist’s lab.  The judges loved the profile of the faces and the paint job. He was safe for another week.
Daran picked a pneumatic bone auger, and went for a 3 faced experiment. He looked forward to this challenge, as he really wanted to do a realistic makeup.  Mr. Westmore told him to be careful about the placement of the faces, and he took that to heart by tweaking his design.  Speaking of designs, Daran felt that Tyler was copying his concept.  While they were both creating twisted, distorted faces, their makeups were sufficiently different. I ‘ve gotta say that as I watch Daran throughout the show, even though he is darn cute, I really don’t care for him.  He is a great artist, but his quiet demeanour can’t hide the fact that is kind of douche-y.  Just sayin’…anyway, his makeup was pretty amazing.  I liked that the placement of the model’s face in respect to the other two faces was seamless.  The judges thought it was “wild” and impressive for the amount of time he had.  They also felt it was alive and not just a concept.  His “ingenious”, “stellar and creepy” design was in the top looks.
Niko got an antique hand drill and went for a mad scientist that steals a baby from a pregnant woman with said hand drill.  He was worried the concept would offend the judges, but he went with it anyway.  Although he still struggled with his time management, he created a creepy, bloody makeup.  I thought it was gross and scary, and I loved character’s face.  The judges liked the paint job, but Ve thought it was in poor taste.  I’m not so sure about that judgement.  What about Tyler’s conjoined twin, or Rashaad’s plastic surgery victim?  There are real cases of people who have disfigurements and would be offended by most horror creatures and themes, in fact, most, if not all, horror is in poor taste, so I don’t think Niko deserved that.  The 2007 French extreme film Inside deals with exactly what Niko created, and it won awards for best horror movie.  Anyway, he was safe for another week.
Corrine got leeches as her device, and went for a “really gross concept” of leeches on uncomfortable parts of the body.  Mr. Westmore told her to keep it gross, but she had trouble with her concept overall, and felt that she didn’t do enough.  She kept going for minimal, but I think she needed to be more versatile as a whole.  I thought it looked lame, and the judges thought the leeches didn’t look right.  She knew she had made poor decisions, and the judges solidified that by calling the character a “Bondage Rambo” that was devoid of visual interest, and changing the model’s jaw line didn’t add anything to the makeup as a whole. They were underwhelmed by this so she was in the bottom looks.
Out of the top looks, even though they thought Chloe had a bold concept and clean application, Daran won this time.  They loved his “outrageously good execution” and the anatomical choices that flowed with the faces. Even though I dislike him, I thought it was a good choice for the winning concept.
Corrine went home.  They felt that her work was uninspired this time and too simple for this stage of the competition.  They know she will do well in the industry, and even though she admitted to struggling with concepts throughout the show, left feeling inspired for the future.

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