glimpses behind the scenes at what creates the magic we experience of film & tv- & other!


Somebody at MAC Sure Loves Star Trek!

huge MAC display at STLV50

Costumes and makeup have been big in Star Trek since the beginning – how else to get all those alien and futuristic looks pre-CGI?  Fans chime in, having a glorious time with cosplay (costume play).  STLV50 teamed up this year with cosmetic giant, MAC Cosmetics, both at the Star Trek Beyond premiere at the San Diego Comic Con and at the 50th Anniversary celebration at Star Trek Las Vegas.  Their  exhibit re-booted the whole vendor area with an Enterprise feel.

huge MAC display at STLV50

I posed with Seven of Nine - and can swear that her form fitting suit didn't have a wrinkle in it!Look that this huge display! You’re only seeing a third of it here – the engineering section, complete with “warp core” – and with “Seven of Nine”, an actor wearing the original hideously uncomfortable costume. She posed with us fans and surprised us with scenes from Star Trek Next Generation. She’s a good actress! Stayed in character the whole time. When I posed with her, I asked if the suit was hotter than H…. Seven replied, “It is very efficient” in those unmistakable Seven tones.

Engineering was one of the make-over sections, with artists giving free make-overs to feature the new Star Trek theme line. Yeah, I know. The blue light is hideous for doing make up.  But Nicole did a great job on me. But before I tell about that, look at the rest of their “ship”!


Data & Deanna on the MAC bridge

Another third was like the bridge of the Enterprise, complete with Data and Deanna, actors made up with MAC cosmetics who posed with fans and periodically enacted scenes from STNG. In the main hall – The Leonard Nimoy Theater – MAC demo’d make up for their new looks, based on Uhura, Deanna Troi, and Seven of Nine. They also showed the layering that created Data’s and Gaila’s skin, how it followed the contour of the muscles with shadows and highlights. Let’s face it, Star Trek fans aren’t generally looking for personal make up tips, but wiggle cosplay tips under their noses and they’ll sit up and listen!

MAC's bridge at STLV50

The third section was the transporter.  You could pose on the transporter pad for photos.    And pick up any makeup you bought.

MAC's Transporter, where cosplay teams can strike poses as they teleport in and out.

MAC’s Transporter, where cosplay teams can strike poses as they “teleport” in and out.

Gaila dancing in the transporter room

Gaila dancing in the transporter room

Actors playing Uhuru & Spock in the transporter room

Actors playing Uhura & Spock in the transporter room














Of course I had to try their transporter effect myself! Cool, eh?

MAC has a new line of makeup with a Star Trek theme

I’m not so much into cosplay myself, but I’m vain as a peacock. I wanted to see what MAC’s new Star Trek line of cosmetics would look like on me.  The make over’s were free – and the lines weren’t overwhelming so I bellied up.


Starting the make over...

Starting the make over…

It was fun! Being in the Star Trek worldDay 2 make-over for a few days I threw restraint to the winds, telling artist Nicole to “go for it!” I’m no spring chicken so I held my breath. The starting me is here on the left – and behold! Nicole created magic! Day 2, she went for a dramatic look. Wow, those eyes! Great fun! Thanks, Nicole!

The colors are inspired by Uhura, Deanna Troi, and Seven of Nine. By the end of the convention they had sold almost everything they brought. Sorry folks, these won’t be available to the public until fall 2016.

Speaking of make-up – but totally unrelated to STLV –  I found this interesting tidbit about the history of Spock’s hair and brows:

Live Long and Prosper!

CosPlay & Demons at SDCC!!

The convention center - main site for the San Diego Comic Con

The convention center – main site for the San Diego Comic Con

The Mecca for Sci Fi geeks – Trekkies & others – is the San Diego Comic Con.  Over 130,000 people gather annually to celebrate graphic novels,  TV shows, movies, cosplay, video games, Dungeon & Dragons – and heavens know what else!  My very first San Diego Comic Con was overwhelmingly a blast! The people! The costumes! The panels! The exhibits!

Actress Laura Stephens getting ready as Lolita Capt. America

Actress Laura Stephens getting ready as Lolita Capt. America

If you don’t know about SDCC, a big part of the fun is that people dress up – “cosplay” – costumed role playing – and others take pictures of them and with them. One of my roomies, actress Laura Stephens, got nationwide coverage for her Lolita Capt. America costume.  Costumes and SDCC go together!

I had to ask what "steampunk" meant.

I had to ask what “steampunk” meant.


A very hunky Wolverine

A very hunky Wolverine

Demon on the loose in the Exhibit Hall! Photo from

Demon on the loose in the Exhibit Hall! Photo from

In the exhibit hall I got to get a close-up view of an awesome and huge demon, complete with wings and horns.  Whew!  He was at the booth for the Cinema Makeup School. For a closer look, click this:

I talked to Katie from the school about who they were and why they were here.  Katie said the school is based in Los Angeles and teaches everything from beauty makeup through airbrushing, photo hairstyling, character makeup, prosthetic and more. Classes run from one week to 4 ½ months. Their website is   Oh man, I wish I could go hang out in LA long enough to take their full course! So far my own makeup specialty is bullet holes and blood, small potatoes to this crew.

Makeup students were at the booth applying bruises and small injuries for people who stopped by. Apparently each day they demonstrated a major effect, like this demon and on another day, an arachnid femme fatale.

This demon is the creation of Wayne Anderson, a graduate of the school who was featured on SyFy’s Face Off. To get the actor into the makeup this time took only about 2 to 2 ½ hours, but it took a couple of months to put the whole effect together. The horns were made of resin. Each piece was molded.  I must admit I was a little scared to talk to this otherworldly fellow directly, but I bet it was hot in there. He literally had a wing man, who made sure passersby didn’t impale themselves on the wings tips. I wonder how much the whole thing weighed!

Lots & lots of people in the SDCC exhibit hall!

Lots & lots of people in the SDCC exhibit hall!


CGI or Make-up?

Remember the OB nurse in the beginning of Star Trek 2009? The one with the big eyes?

Are her eyes make-up or CGI?

Are her eyes make-up or CGI?

I wondered how they did that. A friend found an interview with the actress in which she talks about it.  Check it out!

Spock’s Ears

Lr in ears 072

Getting my own ears at STLV 2009

I’m a sucker for Spock. And for Spock’s ears. Even got a pair of my own at a Star Trek con.

I was delighted to find out more about them from the SFX person who made them for the Star Trek movie, Sam Neill. On his site,Sam talks about first getting asked to do the ears. “You want to make Spock’s ears?”

Sam still makes ears from his original mold! You can even buy your own from him! (I may have to do this.) He shows how they are made and how to apply them.

Why Isn’t Spock Green?

What kind of decisions go into designing makeup for a character? Especially an alien like Spock.  Here are some interesting musings on the subject from a long time Spock observer.

Vulcan Ears

  Thanks to @DZQP for this lovely behind the scenes look at Star Trek makeup.  I’ve been experimenting with Vulcan ears myself – great fun and still a little messy. 🙂

Lighting: Goodbye Tungsten!

The lighting most of us are used to in our homes is a soft gold – the light produced by tungsten bulbs.  The lighting used on sets in the past has also been tungsten, albeit much more powerful.  Contrast this with the light from fluorescent bulbs – a light that looks cool blue to our eyes. No where near as flattering to us older ladies! Honey, give me warm pink!!!  But we are all in for a change.  Movie lighting too!

Tungsten vs LED
Tungsten vs LED

In 2014 a law goes into effect requiring energy limits that tungsten lights don’t meet. So manufacturers are phasing out production of tungsten lights and exploring options with compact fluorescents and LEDs. A look at the lighting section of your local hardware store will show you that a lot of changes are afoot. This is creating a headache for cinematographers, art directors, and makeup artists. All will have to adjust for the new lighting.

“There have been color-rendering problems,” says SciTech Council director Andrew Maltz. “The colors that appear on film or digital cameras are not what the d.p.’s expect. When they used these new devices, to their eye, it looked fine, but the recorded image was wrong.” (“Chromatic chaos reigns”, Variety, Apr. 13, 2011  An experiment with LED lighting showed the problem:

“A model wearing a specifically designed dress with various gradations of blue and blue-green had been filmed while she was lit by the latest addition to the cinema lighting family — the LED fixture.

The results were shocking. They didn’t represent at all what everyone present had seen on set when the dress was photographed.

“Now, it was simply a nice blue dress,” says visual effects specialist Jonathan Erland, who chairs the Solid State Light and Research subcommittees of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council. “The subtle differences in the colors were gone. And in movies, subtle is the difference between excellent and not so excellent.”

LED panel

LED panel

The 2009 Star Trek movie included lighting approaches that would evoke the feel of the previous movies.  Visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett “wanted to present the Enterprise in a very emotional way, so he and director of photography Dan Mindel used the lighting approach that Stanley Kubrick had used in his film 2001 as a template, with a lot of darkness hinting at the unknown.” (  This will be less critical for the next Star Trek movie but the lighting changes mean the film crew will have a lot of experimenting to do!  LED products are being developed that don’t flicker and allow control of the color temperature but they are new and very expensive. I’m sure Industrial Light and Magic is already testing them out.