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Hi-Def Makeup: Get Your Brushes on the Bandwagon

>Lately I have been observing the reticence many makeup artists have about getting on board the HDTV format bandwagon. What is most noticeable is their general lack of interest in getting additional training that might help them better adapt their makeup application techniques for HD requirements. As this technology takes permanent center stage in video and television production they are going to be caught with more down time on their brushes if they don’t brush up to include refined knowledge and methods for a smooth transition to this medium.

I see a couple of reasons why makeup artists are slow to embrace this mandatory digital upgrade. One is so many of them are always busy pursuing their beauty portfolios and frequently upgrading them with new print and fashion/editorial work. They are driven more by this kind of creative artistry than the “powder puff mechanic” makeup maintenance type work required for video. They prefer to spend their time building their reputations and refining their talent and technique in this arena, which I can completely understand and relate to. I personally find special makeup effects far more rewarding and challenging than doing straight makeup for video.

However, I am realist too, and there is never going to be the call for SFX work that will keep me happily, gainfully, and exclusively employed in that vein. Video has been and always will be the enduring backbone of any production industry, even in the smallest of markets. This is where many artists are seriously overlooking the fact that video should also be part of their pursuits of steady and gainful employment. Print and fashion makeup jobs may greatly fluctuate in availability and budget from one month to the next but video is a staple stream of employment opportunities.

I work in the Metro Washington, DC market, which is one of the most video rich regions in the country. High Definition was birthed here back in 1986 with the first test broadcast, and the FCC is requiring full digital HD compliance for the rest of the country very soon. There is an array of headquarter and bureau markets here that are driven by cable, network, political, government, industrial, military, and corporate entities which makes this region’s video industry arguably one of the most makeup productive in the US. Virtually all of these markets are now HD exclusive. Tie this to the fact that many film and TV/video artists here also work the New York production market, which is a mere 4 ½ hours away, so that significantly widens the industry HD job field potential.

Another reason is I suspect many makeup artists are confused with a lot of mis-information floating around out there in how to properly refine or adjust their techniques and product choices for HD. It IS definitely about the refinement, not about adjustment! Refining is an important process that requires more vertical growth in knowledge along with polishments in technique in application. Adjustment is simply a shift, a lateral movement with little knowledge or methodology behind it. Some artists are just secretly afraid to expose themselves to any gaps they may have in their fundamental skills platform that might make transition to working in this medium more difficult. Other artists who are retail, salon, or bridal based makeup businesses simply don’t see the need at all for them to acquire high technology makeup education.

The truth is no matter what makeup artistry field or specialty you work in HD is going to touch you in one way or another. You won’t be able to avoid crossing around or over it so you might as well face it head on, and win. HD resolution is available now in just about every professional and consumer format that records or broadcasts an image, including print photography and the cinema. HD demands more professional working knowledge from makeup artists in the technical aspects of camera recording, lighting, advanced makeup color theory, and cosmetic chemistry. Lighting science is definitely one of the most important communication aspects of a video production a makeup artist should have a strong working interface with, especially for HD. Needless to say an artist’s ability to effectively translate their skill set into full digital needs is going to influence their future job and earning potential in the video market.

The solution to crossing over the HD makeup threshold is to squarely deal with any doubts and insecurities you have about this head on, and move past them as quick as you can to get with the program! Be honest and truthful to yourself about your knowledge and ability because HD is going to painfully expose any shortfalls you have. Search out any training available that will help you bridge whatever gaps you have in fundamental makeup knowledge and technique so that you have a better skill set with to refine into HD. Concentrate on any classes available that elevates your working knowledge in the science and physics of camera mechanics, lighting science, and color theory. Then practice, and practice some more until you can work it like it is second nature on an HD set.

The demand for artists with proper makeup techniques for HD video is definitely on the upswing. More video production companies are recognizing the importance of having a makeup artist as one of their major needs with budgeting because of HD. Training artists to be successful in this format is a passion I have, and to see this generation of artists as well as the next have the proper education for execution. This is the major reason I created High Definition Makeup University in which artists can come and train in an actual HDTV studio setup with some of the leading HDTV makeup artists in the country. Read more about it at Creative Artistry & FX.

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