Makeup nominees turn strategy into speed

For makeup artists, putting the faces on zombies, superheroes and corpses are all in a day’s work. And the job is likely to be done in a couple of hours on a painfully tight budget.

This year’s Emmy nominees in the prosthetic makeup category faced down this challenge and even triumphed.

It takes a specific strategy, though, for artists to create their best efforts without even a run-through where the prosthetics and regular makeup can be seen together: First, the makeup departments put together teams of artists who are familiar with television’s frenzied pace. Second, designers make prosthetics in advance, using materials such as silicone that give a smooth skin-like appearance that stands up to the scrutiny of an high-def broadcast.

Makeup and prosthetic designers for “Glee” had to reinvent zombies designs from the iconic Michael Jackson video “Thriller” for their nommed episode.

“We had about two hours to put the prosthetics together with the makeup on the actors,” says Eryn Krueger Mekash, a nominee as department head makeup artist for “Glee.” “I don’t think people realize how fast you have to work in order to make that happen.”

Matthew Mungle, nommed for “The Cape,” says, “The ‘snake man’ design we did was originally put together in Photoshop. From there we study the face movement of the actor who will wear the prosthesis.

“The key is really following the structure of the actor’s face in order to make a creature — no matter how supernatural — seem believable.”

Camilla Della Santina, also nommed as department head makeup artist for “The Cape,” thinks preparation is fundamental.

“You have to have everything planned precisely,” Santina says, “but there are always things that have to be adjusted because sometimes things don’t come out the way you hoped and at that point imagination and skill have to carry you through.”

Click here for the full list of Creative Arts nominees.

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