From the Files: Roar of the Greasepaint

This is the second of several articles “from the files” – these were published in January of 2009 as part of the “Production Club Newsletter”. There is some great information in them and some personal sharing/visiting with some of our wonderful, gifted crew and “family members” that deserves to be shared.

 

Roar of the Greasepaint

by Brian Holloway

It was during the shooting of “Enemy: Starfleet”  I became Special Effects Makeup Supervisor and my journey towards makeup specialist for Phase II began in earnest.  When I returned for “Enemy: Starfleet” I again assumed my role in applying Ben’s makeup along with some of the other characters in the script, but a large degree of credit on that shoot has to go to talents and abilities of Patty Wright and Greg Schnitzer.  These two dedicated individuals worked tirelessly on the makeup for the shoot and without their work, would have fallen woefully behind or cancelled the shoot altogether due to mishaps on the set during this time.  Let me just say here and now that New Voyages would not be where it is today without the input and assistance of these truly wonderful people and the rest of the background crew and cast.  This group works harder and longer than most film crews working on big budget films and they do it voluntarily and with a verve and gusto that brings them into the set each day smiling and happy just to be a part of this project.  There is an essence that is created by this group and these feeling resonate across the rest of the set and keep each of us coming back shoot after shoot.

In addition to the Vulcans, as we went into the preproduction meetings for “The Child”, Jon Povill had some very distinct ideas for makeup in regards to the “illness” and the Deltan “look”.

 

Brian on the day after. (Just kidding!) This is the makeup effect for the sickness on the Enterprise.

Space Sickness

Part of the challenge of “The Child” was addressing the sickness experienced by the crew of the Enterprise after the alien lifeform comes on board.  Jon and I spoke at length about what he felt this should look like and what effect should be used to attain the image.  As a special effects makeup person, my first impulse was to go completely high-tech and create a series of latex stamps that could be layered to give an effect very similar to what was seen in “Miri”.  As I read farther into the script, I saw that the illness spread to the entire crew and even our resident Vulcans were affected.  During our chats it was decided that the “less-is-more” technique might be a better way to accomplish an effect that could be revisited over and over and additionally could be done to a number of the crewmen seen and at the same time keep the overall cost down to a bare minimum. This involved a simple technique of taking a stipple sponge to layer different colors onto the skin which would be easy to apply and easy to recreate, and made for a very interesting and believable look. We didn’t have stipple sponges available, however, and the theatre makeup shop is two hours from the set – so I bought heavy textured paint rollers at the local hardware store and cut them up for the same effect. It worked perfectly.

 Once on the set, we chose the characters that would be affected and then set about deciding where they would be affected and to what degree. The obvious pitfall here was not to make the disease look too uniform and to vary the look from character to character.  You also have to take into account the people that have greater exposure than others and make their patches of disease more virulent than the others that might just have mild exposure. We first laid down a base color that matched the blood-type of the character, and then we used a contrasting color to show the deadening effect of the disease.  Lastly, we added a very dark color to show dead tissue and crusted blood.

Anna Schnaitter and Ayla Cordell, Mother and Child for the latest episode

Hair Today: The Deltans

As I read through the script, the first obvious thing that struck me was that the lead female was Deltan.  As we all know, the Deltans were first seen in ST: TMP, and we all assumed they were a bald race.  Now we could not expect a non-paid actress to volunteer her time on our set and shave her head (since it could cost her paying jobs while her hair grew back) What was the alternative?

Now, whenever you mention bald characters the first thing that lay people seem to latch onto is the idea of using a “bald cap” to hide the hair in some way.  The reason that this idea is widely received as bad is simply because you cannot put a bald cap on someone and have it NOT look fake: especially when shooting in Hi-Def.  So, using a bald cap was out.  What was the next solution?

During pre-production conference calls, Jon stated several times that just because Ilia was bald and was Deltan, that didn’t mean all Deltans are bald, but that it may have been a personal choice on Ilia’s part.  Jon had actually created the Deltan race, and his vision was simply that they were sensual and exotic in both appearance and mannerisms, so we needed to focus on the more distinct aspect of the Deltans and this was sensuality/sexuality.  At this point, Jon suggested that perhaps I could concentrate on eye designs since eyes tend to be accepted as the most expressive portion of the anatomy.  Jon had several actresses who he was considering for the part of our Deltan, Isel. Using their photos, I began to make sketches and drawings that approached some unusual looks for Isel.

We considered at this point making light latex eye slips for the actress that would be colored from the inside and then applied quickly to show alien skin tones and color variations while giving the expressiveness to the eyes.  I experimented with some translucent makeup applied to silicon slips, but these silicon pieces are not without cost and you need to have a new pair for each application per shooting day, plus extras for reshoots or makeup room mistakes:  then each would have to be colored fairly consistently and exactingly. 

So, we decided to go with a” less-is-more” philosophy and design an eye makeup template that would enhance the actresses sensuality, could help to express the emotions of the character, could enhance the “alien” quality of the actress, and be duplicated easily. I immediately set about looking for good eye designs on websites, in photographs… whatever I could lay my hands on.  Jon decided on two possible designs. As Anna Schnaitter, our Deltan, began shooting a few days before my arrival on set, I sent the designs to our  general Makeup Supervisor, Patty Wright, to duplicate. Patty and the makeup assistants – Carol Crouse, Natalia Tudela and Ege Cordell – created both designs and added longer eyelashes to fill out the look of Anna’s already incredibly expressive eyes. After camera tests, Jon and Dave Berry (the Director of Photography) decided on a very light makeup design which Anna could apply herself. As a result, Anna came off looking both alien and exotic and delivered an outstanding performance that I am sure fans of ST: NVP2 will talk about for a long time to come.

Fortunately, because the script identified Isel’s child as human, not Deltan, we did not need to design special makeup for our child actress, Ayla Cordell. Due to her age, Patty  opted for the least amount of makeup to enhance her already beautiful features. “Bare Minerals” and some lip gloss did the trick

 

The now famous ears!

Tackling the Classics: Vulcans

When you approach any makeup job, you have to decide how you want to approach a character and that character’s look and in most cases, the artist has a free hand in how the character will develop visually. This is not the case in Star Trek when you have to approach certain characters – in this case the Vulcans – in a way which is consistent with a look that has been well established. When it comes to Vulcans, you know that everything you do is going to be viewed closely by the fans and although they are a great and supportive group, they can also be VERY quick to hound you on your flaws.  

During the shooting of “World Enough and Time” and “Blood and Fire” I assisted the makeup team in touchups to the two different “Spock”s for those episodes: Jeff Quinn and Ben Tolpin.  When I returned to the set for “Enemy: Starfleet”, however, the makeup for Spock was different. Instead of the standard latex ear tips, molds had been taken of Ben’s ears and custom tips were created from a “hot foam” mixture for latex that is commonly used in F/X creations. This same process  was, in fact, used to create Zachery Quinto’s ears in Star Trek XI.  Because foam latex appliances are created for one-time use only, the cost of the ears was such that a simple mistake could cost a good deal of money, and James was applying the ears himself. 

As James applied the tips to Ben, I watched his technique and saw that the application was standard for foam latex.  I was already working in the makeup room applying burns and latex to a number of other actors, including myself, so I gradually added Ben to the mix. The major perk to this was that it cleared up James’ schedule considerably so he could concentrate on his duties as an actor and Senior Executive Producer. 

When I arrived on set for “The Child”, the first thing I did was a quick inventory of what we had and what we might need.  Due to the tireless efforts Patty, the room was again well stocked with most of what we needed, and some fun items to play with as well.  We had a new “Spock”  joining us, however, and the foam latex ears that had been ordered for him had not arrived in time for the shoot. It also struck me that we needed ears for Patrick Bell, who plays Lieutenant Xon, our full Vulcan. While looking through the makeup room storage, I found we had only about 4 pairs of fresh ears and 12 days worth of shooting – with two Vulcans.  Thankfully, I also found  a few sets of ears we used once on previous shoots and set aside as backups.  The edges were thin and salvageable and I spent an afternoon using a special makeup remover designed for latex to clean the ears and prep them for possible use.  By the time I got finished with this unexpected cache of ears, I found we had about 14 pairs in all and they looked almost brand new. However, using appliances molded for a specific individual on another person can either be a breeze or a nightmare.  A simple imperfection in the chair can be magnified countless times for an HD camera. I was able to adjust the ear tips for both Brandon and Patrick, and was able to get a nearly seamless, natural, look for our Vulcan’s ears, so we did not have to slow – or stop – production waiting for the new ears to arrive.

What a lot of burgeoning makeup artists have seem to fail at in recent years is to remember that the actor in the chair is a person as well and needs to be treated as such, and not just a canvas you are putting paint on. Brandon Stacy, who doubled for Quinto on Trek XI, came in with a GREAT outlook and disposition and made the process easy.  After the ears, the next step to creating Spock is his distinctive hairstyle. To prepare for the role, Brandon had gone to a well-regarded wig shop in Hollywood and had a wig fitted and cut to Spock’s style: so that was the easy step. 

 

The initial preparation to make Brandon appear as Spock. Note the shaved eyebrows.

The next step to create Vulcans is to adjust the eyebrows.  Normally this process involves shaving half of the eyebrow for the actor and applying false eyebrows made from netted hair or a commercially available “mustache” that has been colored and trimmed to fit.  I have used this process many times on both myself and other actors.  It creates a good effect and is usually the easiest method for most, but the huge drawback is that netted hair is not natural and does not move in the same way as natural eyebrows.  If you are simply appearing at a convention, this would not be an issue, but when we are talking about film and HD film at that…..every expression is magnified and therefore needs to be excellent under the closest of inspection.  And you also need to keep as much expressiveness about you as you can.  With Brandon, we got lucky.  His eyebrows have a natural upsweep to them and we were able to simply shave just the tips of his eyebrows.  Then with the application of a special pencil/brush, I was able to lightly streak in what would have been the continuation of his upswept brow and the results were magnificent. Now we had a Spock that could not only raise his singular eyebrow in true “Spock-fashion” but he had the full range of emotionality that Nimoy used with the character and was able to use his entire face to express his thoughts. The unique part of this was that when I began to reapply Patrick’s makeup for Xon, I noticed that he too had great eyebrows that could easily be adjusted with brush as opposed to fake brows.  This also allowed him to trim a much smaller portion of his eyebrows and returned to him much of the functionality for expression he had lost using fake eyebrows. The last step is coloring in the skin with a yellowish natural tone, shadows on the ears, and eye shadow as well.

Applying makeup to Vulcans can take up to 2 hours from start to finish, and when you have two of them you have to multiply the process exponentially. Add to that the time removing it and the makeup department and the actors playing Vulcans end up being the first to arrive to the studio and the very last to leave, making their days very, very long. Not having to apply false eyebrows and remove, clean and store them at the end of the day helped keep the entire makeup department alert and keep the production running at full speed.

The makeup department could not function without all the dedicated individuals work tirelessly to help during the shoots, and we’ve been fortunate for the help of Greg Schnitzer, Betsy Durkee, Carol Crouse, Natalia Tudela and Ege Cordell in the last three shoots. New Voyages: Phase II would not be where it is today without the input and assistance of these truly wonderful people and the rest of the background crew and cast.  This group works harder and longer than most film crews working on big budget films and they do it voluntarily and with a verve and gusto that brings them into the set each day smiling and happy just to be a part of this project.  There is an essence that is created by this group and these feeling resonate across the rest of the set and keep each of us coming back shoot after shoot.

 

Paul Sieber takes a moment to get direction from “Enemy: Starfleet” director, Ben Tolpin (out-of-frame) as the rest of the crew prepares for the next scene. Paul’s makeup was designed, on-the-spot, to be as culturally different as possible. Note the sideburns.

Share/Like/+1 This!

About The Star Trek Phase 2 Team

Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II is an award-winning independent webseries that produces new episodes of Classic Star Trek. Continuing the fourth and fifth seasons of the original series, we film the untold stories of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain Kirk, and his crew with the intention of filling in the missing years of the original five year mission, and bridging the gap to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. We are a group of fans who have come together with a common love for the classic era Star Trek for the purpose of having fun while making new episodes. It is the goal of Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II to support and promote the CBS/Paramount Star Trek franchise by giving fans an active way to continue their interest in Classic Star Trek.