Tips: make-up for HD

John Woodbridge is an experienced make-up artist for film and TV, specialising in high definition and using the latest techniques such as airbrushing. Here he shares his guide for HD make-up.

High definition filming can be intimidating for on screen talent. Increasingly, those in front of the camera are looking to make-up artists like John to provide solutions to ensure that they continue to look their best. The key difference between standard definition and high definition make-up, is the necessity to produce work that’s to film standard.

Prepare the skin
Too much makeup can appear really obvious on HD. Cleansing, toning, moisturising and evening out the hydration of the skin is very important for HD. The better we prepare the canvass, the better the make-up will look.

"Too much makeup can appear really obvious on HD." – John Woodbridge

Many make-up artists believe that you need to use specialised cosmetics or make-up techniques for work in high definition. That’s simply not true. As long as you work to film standard, most of the makeup in your kit will work just fine in HD. However, employing airbrush techniques can give you a distinct advantage, so eventually you may wish to invest in an airbrush kit.

Airbrush cosmetics are made from micronized pigments that are far less detectable on camera. An airbrush kit contains a mini compressor. When switched on, this expels compressed air. The finish can be very lightweight due to the atomisation of the cosmetic. This is what gives the illusion of flawless skin and why airbrushing is so fast and synonymous with HD.

Another bonus of airbrushing is the length of wear. It tends to last longer than conventional makeup, and needs less retouching throughout the day.

The product is easily blended and leaves no hard lines of demarcation, so there’s nothing to distract the audience. If you have hotspots, you can lightly dust the area with transparent powder to lessen the shine.

You can also use the airbrush for highlighting, contouring and even to apply blusher. Poorly blended blusher looks terrible in HD, so use airbrushing to smooth out any imperfections.

Setting powders
One product that can sometimes prove problematic in HD is traditional setting powder. Although frequently invisible to the naked eye, these non-micronized powders can sometimes give the skin an ashy, dull caste on camera. Specialised HD setting powders are available in both loose and pressed forms to combat this problem.

Final checks
Most make-up artists working in television will be used to checking their work in the mirror, because in standard definition, as a general rule of thumb, the mirror sees what the camera sees. However, with High Definition, just as in film, you also need to eyeball the make-up closely. Any problems apparent to the naked eye will also become apparent on HD and film.