Makeup is an incredibly important part of filmmaking. It is used in several ways besides simply enhancing an actor’s natural appearance. Flaws such as blemishes, scars or uneven skin tone are more visible on screen and this is especially noticeable with today’s high definition technology. Makeup must be used to hide these flaws, and account for any skin color changes that can occur due to set lighting and the filming process. If an actor is perspiring or has naturally oily skin, the makeup artist will take care of this by applying, and re-applying makeup to the actor as needed. If an actor cut himself shaving in the morning, then that cut will need to be covered up if it is too visible. This brings up another important task makeup has in filmmaking – continuity. A week or so may pass between shoots and scenes are sometimes filmed out of order. If an actor is in several scenes that, in the film story line, are supposed to occur the same day, he or she needs to look approximately the same each time. While some viewers may not notice if a character has green eye shadow in one shot and then coral eye shadow moments later, many will.
Just as movie makeup can be used to hide flaws, it is also used to create them when the script calls for it. For example, makeup is used for creating wounds, scars, wrinkles and other physical effects needed to transform an ordinary looking actor into a trauma victim, an elderly person, or a monster. Prostheses are often added, but makeup is used with these as well in order to blend them with surrounding skin tone.
Movie makeup is not confined to the facial area. Any exposed skin may be colored or powdered as necessary to tone down shine, even out skin tone, enhance musculature, and add scars, tan lines, wounds or whatever else can be done to achieve the desired look. Consider a film with a well-toned actor in the lead. Those six-pack abs are real; but for the movie screen, they are enhanced with some added color to enhance the shadows and ridges, in a similar way that one would use rouge to make cheekbones stand out.