BOB GARFIELD: HDTV, the technology long just around the corner, has finally, at least to more affluent homes, actually arrived. With it comes a cinematic aspect ratio and better than cinematic resolution that promised to revolutionize the TV experience. But with every revolution comes unintended consequences. In this case, the fact that in addition to other startling detail, HDTV delivers large pores, red blotches, pancake makeup and other cosmetic flaws hitherto imperceptible to the viewer eye. So there's a second revolution afoot in the makeup profession. Makeup artist Marianne Skiba has written about this in the current issue of Makeup Artist Magazine, and she joins me now. Marianne, welcome to HD not TV.
MARIANNE SKIBA: Thank you.
BOB GARFIELD: I've been in many a makeup chair in my career, and I'm always struck by how the makeup has always been applied with a trowel. [LAUGHTER] I feel like Gloria-- when I go on TV, I feel like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. Does everybody get made up like that or are they just doing extra work on me because, you know-- it's a tough case?
MARIANNE SKIBA: Well, no, no I'm sure you're not a tough case, but I, I'd prefer to consider it an artful placement of the trowel. Certain things just have to be placed in certain places, certain textures need to be used. A lot depends on what type of television it is - you know, what type of tape it's being shot on and how it's lit. All of those things are big factors in television as we currently know it, and they're going to be even bigger factors in high definition television.
BOB GARFIELD:Television Week magazine ran a story about the travails of HDTV for some actors and I guess some makeup artists. They mentioned in particular Cameron Diaz who looks like she has porcelain skin on the big screen but in fact really has a substantial acne problem. Are people like Cameron Diaz in for a rude awakening in this brave new world?
MARIANNE SKIBA: I believe that at first everyone will be in for a bit of a shock, however a lot of people are spending a lot of time addressing that particular thing. Now most-- TV makeup artists are familiar with the skin detail chip, and certainly most performers are, and that is a chip within the TV cameras that can smooth out flesh tones and even out skins.
BOB GARFIELD: Like electronic gauze that just softens the skin tones when they're naturally uneven?
MARIANNE SKIBA:That's basically exactly what it is. And--again, that will still be in place, but I feel its uses will be a bit more limited. The lighting is certainly being researched and corrected, and the colors are being balanced and there'll be a certain amount of filtering involved. However, there is always that producer or director that wants that gritty, harsh reality that high definition can give. I don't think bare skin will ever be beautiful on camera, but we're, we're accepting more things; we're not really having to trowel it on so to speak.
BOB GARFIELD: So if the trowel is out, what will replace it? Tell me about air-brushing.
MARIANNE SKIBA:It just gives a much nicer effect to spray the makeup on to the skin, the face, the body-- as with art, in pointillism, those thousands of tiny, tiny little dots make up a picture -it's the same with air brush - those thousands and thousands of tiny little dots make up a breathable picture, and that's what's so nice about it. It's not as obvious, and that's the big problem with high definition, is a lot of the, especially the foundations and the powders that we're currently using, become very, very obvious -- they, they lay on the skin. You don't see that on the current soap operas, but with high definition, you'll be able to pick out a lot of those things.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So is this by Barbara Walters is leaving 20/20?
MARIANNE SKIBA:That I don't know. [LAUGHS] But I know that Katie Couric made a statement the other day on the Today Show that she's terrified of HDTV. And I would just like to say to Katie and to all the other on-air performers just not to worry - we've got your back - we're professional makeup artists - we're working on it. We're excited by the challenge. We haven't had anything like this since the first days of television. I was always a little jealous of the old timers in the industry who talked about, you know, how they would make something out of wax or putty or whatever they had access to. And now, here, finally in, in my career, I have the opportunity to start, you know, pulling tricks from my sleeves and, and invent and create and-- boy, you know, no makeup artist worth their blush brush could pass up a chance like that.
BOB GARFIELD: All right, Marianne. Well thank you very much.
MARIANNE SKIBA: Well thank you.
BOB GARFIELD:Marianne Skiba is a longtime makeup artist for the big screen, small screen and now high definition screen. She also chairs the HDTV division of the National Television Academy's new media committee. [THEME MUSIC UP & UNDER]
BOB GARFIELD:58:00 That's it for this week's show. On the Media was directed by Katya Rogers and produced by Janeen Price, Megan Ryan and Tony Field, engineered by Dylan Keefe and Rob Christiansen, and edited by Brooke. We had help from Derek John. Our webmaster is Amy Pearl.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Arun Rath is our senior producer and Dean Cappello our executive producer. Bassist/composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. You can listen to the program and get free transcripts and MP3 downloads at onthemedia.org, and email us at email@example.com. This is On the Media, from NPR. I'm Brooke Gladstone.