Broadcast Beauty

Looking for some tips to get that camera-ready look? It is important as students to always be learning from those who have done it best before you.

When watching any broadcast whether it is hard cutting news or entertainment tonight, specific choices have been made for the talent to create a more pleasing look for the viewers. There are three key aspects to remember when preparing your on-camera look, dress, jewelry and makeup. The right choices in all these areas will make your talent shine and your audience watching.

On television, the way you dress will be important for several reasons. First, extremes of lights and darks do not telecast well because cameras can handle only a limited range. Second, checkered, herringbones, and fine stripes on any garment will also create problems and can appear as a shimmering or moving pattern known as a moire effect. Another reason dress is important is that you may perform in front of a chroma-key background. This effect is frequently used during weathercasts to make it appear that the weather person is standing right in front of a large map. In reality, the talent is standing in front of a large green, or sometimes blue, screen. Since this is an electronic effect, if the talent wears the same color of blue or green as the background, the part of the clothing that is the same color or intensity as the background will become the background map! While that may be amusing, it's the talent's responsibility to choose clothing that is appropriate for the setting.

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Other uses for chroma-key backgrounds include music videos, news and sports broadcasts, and commercials. Backgrounds for chroma-keys can be drawn from any visual source, and these days computer-generated pictures are often used. In the movie Space Jam, Michael Jordan did his moves alone in front of a green screen and the cartoon characters were added later through the use of computer animation. In short its best to stick with neutrals and be careful with any patterns.

Particularly for women, the question of dressing up an outfit with jewelry merits some discussion. Large pins are often shiny and can reflect the lights, causing flashes as you move on the set. They can also cause occasional thumps on the clip-on microphone. Bracelets and bangles can cause the same problems, and can generate stray clicks, particularly if you are using a hand-held mic or working at a table or counter. Earrings follow the same pattern. Large dangling ones, particularly with bright stones in them, can present problems for the cameras and distract your audience. That doesn't mean that you may not have a guest that shows up loaded with jewelry. The director may ask that the jewelry be removed, ask you to break the news to the guest, or, if it's a short segment, try to live with the situation. For the professional, wearing tasteful, simple jewelry that won't cause reflections or create noise is best. It's a good idea to give some consideration to what you have that would fit this category and add some to your collection if you find it is lacking. On-camera checks, in advance, are a good way to avoid problems.

Makeup is part of the business for most performers. It is added to enhance your appearance and hide flaws. The advent of HD, high-definition television, has changed the field of makeup considerably. For several reasons, standard television was very forgiving.

Thick makeup could be used. Primarily, the definition of the television picture was not particularly good, and excesses and variations were not revealed. The ability to see fine detail in HD, about ten times sharper than analog, means that any error such as unevenness, missed spots and poor shading, will jump out at the viewer. For some, the greatest concern is that the new system reveals age lines and blemishes vividly.Broadcast01

Makeup for HD should cover all exposed skin, the face, neck, hands, and arms. If a professional makeup artist is available, they will probably use an airbrush system which applies the makeup in tiny dots that are gently sprayed on to the skin.

This quickly dries into an even, non-shiny finish and is so light that most talent forget they are wearing it. One of its great advantages is that it will hide just about anything, including tattoos. This approach is used on many network shows.

There are powders that are particularly effective in HD. These can be applied personally using a thick bristled brush and rubbed into the skin. Some powders have tiny reflective particles in them which can cause problem reflections. Any powder makeup should be viewed under bright light before use; to be sure this is not a factor.

Everyone should use a foundation and a blush to add contours and definition. Women and some men will need eye makeup and lip color as well. Performers should be careful of applying too much makeup. Follow the guideline "less is more" for high-definition situations. Professional application of makeup takes time and practice. Elaborate or dramatic makeup is best left to the professional makeup artist, but anyone interested in television performance should have a basic understanding of the process. Many local stations will expect you to apply the makeup yourself. Once completed, makeup should always be checked on camera. It is important to avoid lines, streaks or shiny spots and to be sure the makeup is thoroughly blended.

Follow these simple guidelines and you are sure to create a Broadcast Beauty!


DiSantisPicLauren DeSantis fascination with film started as soon as she learned to work a VCR when she watched and re-watched, The Lion King at the age of 8. She holds a Bachelors degree in Theater Arts from Cal State Fullerton. It was here Lauren focused her interests in special effects makeup under the study of Abel Zeballos. She has since worked closely with Bloodline Films and Libby Blood Films as lead special effect makeup artist/designer, assistant art director and lead costume designer. 

Lauren currently is working on her first novel as well as in pre-production for an upcoming feature film that will be produced through Bloodline Films.