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Hair, makeup people adapting to 3D

Format even more unforgiving of imperfections than HD

Hollywood’s makeup artists and hairstylists, who’ve barely had time to get a handle on what’s necessitated by high-def shoots, are already facing additional hurdles with 3D.

Advancements in camera technology and the proliferation of stereoscopic films have pushed artists to advance their techniques to compensate for increasingly realistic visuals.

Not only is 3D shot in high definition, but the dual images that make up a 3D film present an even clearer picture.

“The camera’s getting closer to the way we actually see,” says Buzz Hays, chief instructor at Sony’s 3D Technology Center. “Most people never get to see what the makeup actually looks like.”

That means makeup artists and hairstylists have had to become even more precise and meticulous. Missing an area of the face when applying foundation can make a small patch of skin appear to pop out at the viewer. Individual hairs, too, are more visible, and tricks that worked in 2D films, like using extra coloration to enhance or diminish certain features, might be too obvious or awkward-looking in 3D.

Wigs, too, pose new difficulties. In high definition, part of a wig’s netting can hang down onto an actor’s head and not be visible onscreen in the final cut. In 3D, however, that netting is likely to show.

Solina Tabrizi, a hairstylist whose 3D credits includes last year’s “My Bloody Valentine” and the currently shooting “Shark Night 3D,” says she tries to avoid wigs when shooting in 3D. “It’s even less forgiving,” says Tabrizi of the medium.

Contrast, too, is an issue, causing colors to sometimes appear brighter and more intense than intended. Tabrizi says she once had to adjust the whiteness of an actor’s hair because, in 3D, it just looked unnatural. “I’ve never been asked to tone down anyone’s white hair on regular HD before,” she says.

“The farther away you get from the extreme ends of the spectrum, the easier it gets,” says Hays.

Since a 3D film is essentially two identical movies, one for each eye and shown at the same time, any slight difference in these images can also cause confusion. “Polarization artifacts” — reflections that appear too bright, like an uncomfortable glint of sun off a car — can make shiny makeup problematic.

Kristina Vogel, a makeup artist for “Drive Angry 3D,” says 3D has challenged her to achieve certain looks without glossy, shimmery or sparkly products, often turning instead to matte cosmetics. “You just have to be really perfect about the application,” says Vogel.

But Hays notes that many of the adjustments necessary for shooting in 3D don’t fall solely on the shoulders of the makeup artist or stylist. Directors, cinematographers and other crew also need to coordinate their efforts to achieve the right look on a film.

“I think you have to take a holistic approach,” says Hays.

And, to see how someone will actually look in the final 3D movie, Hays suggests relying less on dailies and more on what an actor looks like up close, in person.

“In a lot of cases, we’re getting to less and less what looks like makeup and more and more to what looks like realism.”

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