Artist Review

“I want to thank Brad for creating these amazing Zazzo® Template designs. I have used them on makeup applications from old-age to beauty and effects related to prosthetic work. The versatility of the shapes and designs make the Makeup FX™ an essential tool in my makeup kit!”

—Allan A. Apone

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It’s Not Easy Being Green
The Re-Creation of An Old Favorite From Star Trek’s Past

by Bradley M. Look

In 1964, Gene Roddenberry wrote the pilot for a new series, which he called Star Trek. On page 51 of the script, Roddenberry wrote about a character called the Orion Slave woman, which he described as being wild, with green skin that glistened as if oiled.* It's been over 30 years since this well-known sci-fi icon of television has been seen on the airwaves.

The fourth season of STAR TREK ENTERPRISE marks the much-anticipated return of not only an Orion Slave Woman, but for the first time her male counterparts.circles In the first of a three-part storyline, "Borderland" writer Ken LaZebnik reintroduces the Orions to a new generation of Trek fans. Makeup Department Head Michael Westmore, working with a crew of 25 makeup artists, brings to life the scene of a large Orion slave market, complete with eight Orion men and one Orion Slave woman. Paul Wight, who is known by wrestling fans worldwide as "The Big Show," plays the enormous Orion slave leader. Populating the market is also a huge display of all types of exotic life forms brought to life through the skill of both makeup artistry and hair styling.

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Back when Star Trek was originally conceived, makeup technology wasn't as advanced as it is today. For Fred Phillips, the makeup department head, creating an Orion Slave woman meant taking a tube of Max Factor grease paint and applying it by hand to every inch of actress Susan Oliver's body. The makeup, which rubbed off easily, had to be touched-up constantly with each camera take. Check out the book STAR TREK ALIENS & ARTIFACTS (written by Michael Westmore and yours truly) to learn more about the series' makeup challenges..circles Knowing the problems of Fred's first green encounters, Michael Westmore, a couple weeks prior to filming the episode, asked me to apply various formulations of green makeup to models for numerous camera tests to find just the right shade for the high definition cameras, which were also new for the season. The shows producers Rick Berman and Brandon Braga decided that they didn't want to use the same color as was used in Star Trek's original pilot (which was more of a turquoise), but opted for another shade of green. The issue of the shade of green that would be chosen would be whether it would remind viewing audience members of the Incredible Hulk, Shrek, the Frankenstein Monster and/or the Wicked Witch of the West. The producers also wanted the skin to have a natural green appearance and not look like it was coated in makeup--a tall order to say the very least for the makeup department to fulfill.

There were three major hurdles that needed to be addressed prior to the actual filming: first, what product to use that wouldn't rub off; second, how much product would be needed to spray the actors; and, finally, where to spray such a large volume of product.

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After working on the feature Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas that used extensive airbrush body makeup (our average day was 150 bodies were sprayed), I knew that the airbrush would be the solution to our application problem. To apply makeup on actors (of which all the guys were to be over 6'6, with Paul being 7'2) by hand like Fred Phillips had done, was out of the question.

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The product chosen was Reel Creations Temporary Body Inks color, Avocado. Known as a leader in the film industry, Reel Creation owner Fred Blau had to create over two gallons of product for the needs of the production. While the product was virtually rub- and sweat-proof, it did contain a large amount of isopropyl alcohol.

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Production finally worked out a deal with the Paramount paint shop so that all the body makeup could be sprayed in their facilities. The paint shop was already set up to spray solvent-based products with a powerful vent system that occupied an entire wall so no fumes could ever be smelled. After the two days of spraying, however, the vent filters were covered in green makeup! We were also fortunate that we could use the shop's industrial air compressor to power the spray guns. While the process was relatively simple, the makeup application required the layering of many thin coats of product with the use of airbrushes and spray guns to create the proper density of color saturation.

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For the actors (which were comprised of professional stunt men, body builders, and actors), if they didn't arrive to the studio bald and rid of all body hair, then it was a stop at the hair department for a clipper cut all the way down to the scalp. Next, it was off to the upstairs makeup department where the team of makeup artists, working under the direction of makeup maestro Michael Westmore, began the laborious process of gluing on several facial appliances that would give each man the appearance of skin piercing (only used by the male of the species). Many thin layers of green makeup were applied to the actors. The Orion makeup team consisted of Jeffery Lewis, Todd McIntosh, David De Leon, Steven Anderson, Garrett Immel, and myself.

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Once the face and neck were completed, the next stop was to Paramount's paint shop where I used an Iwata LPH-50 spray gun to apply thin layers of green makeup over the performers' bodies, blending the color up to the neckline, completing the illusion. One of the main reasons I opted for that particular model of spray gun was that it could be operated at a relatively low psi (13, as a matter of fact), which would produce less overspray. Less overspray would mean a lower health risk and less waste of product. A problem that occurred while spraying down the bodies was a visual color shifting (a marbleizing effect) as the product dried on the skin. Garrett Immel was quick to suggest to me to spray those problem areas with a little straight alcohol. This fixed it. Apparently, he had the same problem occur on the feature Hidalgo when he was spraying the horses.

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After this step, the performers returned once again to their respective makeup artists to have airbrushed contouring added to their bodies so as to match the work done on the faces. Upon completion, it was back down to the spray booth where I sprayed a thin layer of Green Marble Sealer over the entire makeup to help preserve its appearance. From there the performers were off to the wardrobe department where Bob Blackman's team outfitted each of them with his own hand-crafted costume, complete with boots that gave each of them an extra inch or two to their already towering size.

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One last time the performers made their way back to the makeup department so that metallized chunks of foam appliances could now be glued to their exposed bodies, giving the appearance that metal plates had been screwed into their flesh! This step couldn't be done until the performer had his costume on so that the makeup artist could see what wasn't covered with wardrobe.

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On-set touch-ups, which were constant (due to atmospheric steam and smoke on the extensive set), were handled using Iwata Eclipse HP-CS airbrushes attached to portable battery-operated Tamiya Spray-Work air compressors. The Orion actors seldom left the set, as the high definition camera allowed for rapid shooting. However, a makeup station was set up in those rare instances when they were allowed off the set for a proper touch-up. Two large CO2 tanks complete with Iwata Eclipse airbrushes were always at the ready. While most of the actors were pretty good sports about the whole tedious makeup process, by the time it was all over, they could definitely understand what Kermit the Frog means when he says, "It's not easy being green."

*Originally the Orion Slave Woman was first seen in the pilot titled "The Cage," which was subsequently used for the only two-part episode of Star Trek called "The Menagerie." The only other use was the Orion woman by the name of Marta (played by actress Yvonne Craig) of the Elba II penal colony from the episode "Whom Gods Destroy." It's interesting to note that the pilot's original title was "The Menagerie" but was later changed to "The Cage." A little television trivia for you!

A special thank you to the publicity department on Star Trek Enterprise for their permission to print this article and photographs.

 

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