Rick Baker

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Face Off Season 8 Episode 2: Game Changer Part 2!!

Published January 21, 2015 by vfdpixie

We had to wait a whole week to see what would transpire when McKenzie threw a curve ball at the contestants.  Not only did they have to work in teams with a former champ as their leader and coach and create two alien beings, but also come up with another creature!  The aliens didn’t crash-land on Earth, they landed on a planet ruled by primates.  The artists would have to create a tyrannical primate ruler.  Since Rick Baker would be on the judges’ panel, they got an extra day because they had to impress him due to his “primate” body of work (Planet of the Apes and Harry and the Hendersons).

They had to choose from 4 types of monkeys:  the Squirrel Monkey, Brown Lemur, White-faced Capuchin and a Mandrill.  The furry models were all in the lab so the artists could get up close and personal as they designed the third alien.

Team Laura chose the Squirrel Monkey.  Their monkey was a tyrant that hunted the two crashed aliens.  Greg decided to take on the task of sculpting the monkey face and Emily was going to hand-tie the hair for the ape tyrant.  Mr. Westmore was concerned about the time Emily had for ventilating the hair as that usually took a long time, but she was up for the task.  Laura was concerned that Greg was losing sight of the monkey’s proper anatomy.  In the end, their crashed aliens looked great!  The judges loved the sculpts, unique forms on the older alien and the beautiful paint jobs.  Rick Baker thought it was successful.  Unfortunately, the monkey didn’t get a glowing review.  The profile didn’t look like a primate to Neville, in fact, Rick thought it looked like a turtle.  They really noticed the lack of anatomically correct details.  Greg ended up in the bottom for that.

Team Antony chose the Mandrill.  They went with a more realistic monkey look, not a human hybrid.  Alan got the job of sculpting the monkey.  Kelly started with her mold for their male alien and ran into some trouble.  Ben helped her out but scolded her as he did it.  He would soon find his own troubles as he used Alan’s hands for a cast.  They didn’t turn out properly at all, and he had to scramble during last looks, eventually gluing some splitting and covering it with burlap.  Kelly was not happy with the final looks.  The judges saw some issues with the aliens.  The paint wasn’t the same, with one alien being more matte than the other and there was a lack of detail in the sculpts.  They also thought the male alien was too busy.  There was also the issue of the hands.  Rick thought they were distracting and wished they had just painted the model’s hands. They did, however, love their monkey ruler which I thought was menacing and looked like a tyrant.  They thought it was great and liked the largess of it.  Ben was in the bottom because of the hands.

Team Rayce picked the White-face Capuchin.  Their monkey empress enslaved the arachnid alien.  Logan took on the monkey sculpt, while Regina slowly worked on the arachnid face.  Mr. Westmore liked the improvements made by Anthony on the alien sculpt, and advised them to make more of a muzzle for the monkey queen.  Regina also fabricated for the first time and made a cool crown for the queen.  Their arachnid cowl had some tears so Logan had to learn on the fly and fix it.  On the reveal stage, their higher form alien did not look symmetrical.  The judges noticed that but their insect alien was well-managed and had great attention to detail.  The only thing Rick didn’t like was the uniform colour of the alien’s body and costume.  They loved the monkey queen!  They thought she was fabulous, had a great paint job and showed aging well.  Rick liked the variation with the hair colour.

There was a cool moment on this episode.  After the first day of the monkey sculpt, the coaches showed up at the artist house and they had a nice barbecue to get to know all the contestants on their teams.  It was a chance for them to relax after an exhausting day.

The winning team was Team Rayce.  They loved the arachnid insect alien and the monkey queen.  The winner of the challenge was Logan because of his monkey sculpt and the cowl on the arachnid alien.  They also loved Team Laura’s older alien for the colour and transition from front to back and the shape of the head.

The bottom artists were Kelly because she went big but it didn’t work; Ben for those awful hands; and Greg for the bad primate sculpt and the bad paint job.  Greg went home because his makeup didn’t come together.  Rick told him a story of how when he started out, he was told to go home and give up, but he didn’t.  He told Greg not to give up before he left.  What a great guy Rick Baker is!  Good luck Greg, and definitely don’t give up!

Face Off Season 8 Episode 1: Game Changer!

Published January 14, 2015 by vfdpixie

Well, my favourite competition show is back!  No phone calls or evenings out on Tuesday nights!  My butt is firmly planted in front of my T.V. to watch more mold mishaps, bubbled latex and brilliant creativity.

So of course the show started off at full momentum with a challenge but also a big, big change.  The show will be using 3 teams headed by 3 champs from previous seasons as coaches, and these teams as well as their leaders will be competing against each other.  If their team member wins the season, so does the coach.  If all of the team members lose, then the coach gets eliminated.  The champs were Rayce Bird, winner from Season 2, Anthony Kosar winner from Season 4, and Season 3 finalist/Season 5 winner Laura Tyler.  In order for the coaches to pick their teams, the contestants started off with a Foundation Challenge to create a companion for each of the champ coaches winning looks.  They had Rayce’s Cellist, Anthony’s Bioluminescent Creature and Laura’s Earth Goddess to choose from.  Ve Neill, veteran makeup artist and resident Face Off judge was there to give a winning look immunity for their first Spotlight Challenge!  So many twisty turns!

Champs and judges alike were impressed by all the final looks.  Ve thought that Rob did a good job with unusual components and good texture with his wizard that conjured up Rayce’s Cellist, and she loved Darla’s back story of a ballerina whom she felt was a good companion for the same Cellist character.  Darla won immunity because she made good decisions with her clean makeup.  The champs also picked their teams according to what they liked about each team member’s makeups:

Team Laura:  Darla, Julian, Emily, Gregory and Stephanie

Team Rayce:  Adam, Anthony, Rob, Logan and Regina

Team Anthony:  Kelly, Alan, Ben, Daniel and Jamie

After reveling in the Face Off house, the group headed out the next day to Double B Ranch at the Vasquez Rocks, where films like Transformers 2 were shot.  Waiting for them was the lovely McKenzie and… 7 time Oscar winner Rick Baker!!!  Everyone was blown away when they saw him.  I was pleased to hear that one of his favourite creations was Harry from Harry and the Hendersons, because I love that movie!   He was there to help advise and judge the final looks of the Spotlight Challenge, which was to choose an alien crash site staged at the rocks and create two aliens that might have come from the crafts.  Rick wanted to see a clean, well thought out makeup that looked clearly alien, “like Glenn Hetrick”.  What a kidder!

Team Anthony choose a crash site with drills, guns and missiles.  They decided to go with a large masculine alien and his smaller female counterpart.  Rick told them not to just make a helmet, or else it defeats the purpose of an actual makeup application.  They meshed well together and got to work sculpting all their pieces.  Mr. Westmore liked their concept and told them to make the female cowl look cohesive with the male character.

Team Laura chose a site with weird egg pod-like thingys.  They came up with a just hatched alien and one that was older.  Rick told them to create aliens that looked otherworldly but were still recognizable.  Mr. Westmore felt they were on the right track and they too dove into their work.

Team Rayce went for large crystals surrounding a pod crash site.  They wanted to focus on an arachnid/scorpion alien and a more aged water-based counterpart.  One artist, Anthony, worked on the face of the aged alien, and ran into trouble when Mr. Westmore picked apart his sculpt.  He had to redo the whole thing, but felt better after starting from scratch.

The coaches left the teams to work, and the next day at the lab, they were greeted by McKenzie, and monkeys?!!  She had another twist for them.  The space crafts had landed on a world of primates, not Earth.  They would have to choose from the live monkeys in the lab to create a third character!  And what was even worse was that the show ended!  Cliffhanger for the first episode!! What?!!! You mean I don’t even get to see Neville Page?!! *storms off and pouts* Next week better be good!

Maleficent: A Most Fashionable Fairy Tale

Published June 11, 2014 by vfdpixie


Maleficent (2014, 1 hr 37 mins)

I, like most, am no stranger to the Disney phenomenon.  I have watched a fair share in my lifetime, from the oldies like Bambi and the Apple Dumpling Gang, to newer films like Tron: Legacy, and a few others that I had no idea Disney produced.  I know what the deal is with a Disney movie for the most part:  a feel good, family adventure for a larger audience, including successfully animating the most beloved fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.  Fairy tales were my first horror stories, and I wonder if parents know how terrifying they actually are.  Disney has managed to sugar coat some of the more morbid aspects of these tales, so it is refreshing to see something darker added to their roster.  I was pleasantly surprised by Maleficent, and dazzled by the spectacle of it all, even though the story is a departure from the original fairy tales by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.

This take on the Sleeping Beauty highlights the back side of the story, focusing on the fairy Maleficent, who wasn’t invited to the christening of the new baby princess born to the king and queen because of her past relationship with the king as a youngster.  We all know her as the evil fairy who took revenge on the king by cursing the baby princess for being left out, but this movie gives us Maleficent’s background as a noble protector of  here fairy lands The Moors, betrayed and blatantly violated by her ex-lover King Stephan, and a vilified woman of strength.

As a Disney film, I thought it was not their usual fare but surprisingly good.  What also surprised to me was how dark and gothic it was.  The imagery stayed true to what I have always found to be borderline nightmarish themes in fairy tales, and I thought it was reminiscent of that weird, dreamy gothic classic Legend.   Angelina Jolie was really wonderful as the strong, volatile Maleficent.  With her gaunt personage,  she brought the right amount of cool, rage and humour to a character that has probably made some scary appearances in many childhood nightmares; bringing personality, understanding and dimension to a once-thought evil legend.  She is also flat-out stunning.  Coming from a makeup artist background, I though movie makeup pro Rick Baker created a simple beauty look on her that captivated me every time she was on-screen.  Those ,what I like to call, “anti-smokey” eyes and blood-red lips combined with very simple facial prosthetics made the character.  MAC Cosmetics even came out with a micro-collection of makeup for the launch of the movie.  Talk about marketing to an unsuspecting but willing target!  And those wings!  Beautiful and gothic, a dark cocoon that was Maleficent’s glory and strength.  You should expect some really elaborate cosplay outfits and Halloween costumes in the next few months, if the devoted haven’t already debuted them!

I enjoyed Sharlto Copley’s portrayal as the crazed king, even though he was overshadowed by the other characters.  He has quickly become an unexpected genius at being the bad guy, and has made a great acting career for someone who started out as a producer.  And Elle Fanning was a perfect pristine princess Aurora with her glowy, cherubic face and passable English accent.  My favourite character, however, was Sam Riley as the raven Diaval.  He played Maleficent’s foil well; a handsome supernatural sidekick that didn’t fade into the background.

I had only a couple of issues.  The first involved the animated characters of The Moors.  The CGI became a bit much for me, especially the altered faces of the pixies (represent!) played by Imelda Staunton, Lesley Mannville and Juno Temple, even though the other fantastical creatures were really beautiful.  I much preferred when the fairy lands got dark and dismal.  The darker lighting seemed to showcase them better and hide the unreal aspect of the animation.  The second was Maleficent’s leather pantsuit under her robes.  It took me out of the story and into the present which was not a good thing.  All I saw was Angelina Jolie in a leather catsuit.  I’m not sure if they were going for a powerful look, but to me it looked incongruous with the medieval fairy tale theme of the film’s costuming.

I would definitely recommend seeing Maleficent for Jolie’s performance, her character design and the overall beauty of the film.  I would also recommend seeing it for interesting takes on the fairy tale itself, gleaning elements from the original Disney classic Sleeping Beauty to create a memorable anti-hero, and the haunting rendition of Once Upon a Dream by Lana Del Rey during the end credits.  Definitely one for those of us who want to see the misunderstood independent gal in all of us prevail!


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