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Makeup artist Teryl Crombie's trade has taken her on projects ranging from independent films, feature films, corporate shoots, live television, and commercials. Most recently the Calgary native contributed to the prosthetics department on the much-anticipated blockbuster Resident Evil: Retribution. Regardless of the size and scope of the project, open communication with a director of photography is almost always integral to her work. "Usually it comes down to the look of the show or the story that's being told, and making sure that you're speaking the same language as the director of photography in terms of colours and tones being used, and for the specific look and finish they're going for in post," Crombie says. Albert Dunk csc -- who lensed the 2000 made-for-television film Children of Fortune, on which Crombie also worked -- agrees. "It's really all about communication," he says. "The more you can talk about and agree on how things should look as far as the way folks see it, that's what it's all about."
Although some projects, such as films or shows set in contemporary times, require a more straightforward approach to makeup, for the more stylistically intricate shoots, Crombie appreciates DOPs who are open to discussion. "Some DPs have different styles in that some are there to do their job and only their job, and some DOPs approach it as a team effort. You can only hope you get paired up with a DOP on a project that is open to the collaborative effort being put forward.”
In addition to being thoroughly knowledgeable about the tools of her trade, Crombie and her peers must also be relatively well versed in cinematographers' tools, and being married to a camera operator (CSC member Rod Crombie), she certainly has her foot in the door. On set, she says, "I'm always asking what we're shooting on. If I feel like I have a good relationship with the camera operator or DOP, I will ask to look through their lens too. I always pay attention to what lens they're on because then I know how much detail is going to be seen. Like if they're going into a longer lens, they're going to be picking up more detail and doing tighter shots. Then I know that I definitely need to step in and make sure that everything is okay for finals and make sure the talent looks good. If it's a wider shot, I may not need to step in. Sometimes we use a slow motion camera, and things like that I would need to know because every single detail, depending on how wide or how tight the shot is, you're going to see."
That art has been Crombie's saving grace in the age of digital filmmaking. HD, she says, "weeds out a lot of heavy-handed makeup. Which is great because you've got to be very deliberate in your choices and very well blended and in tune with the character but making sure that you don't see the makeup. It creates edges that you don't think are there. Sometimes you can't see it with your eye. You have to be on top of your game and on top of good products to be able to change it up. With the skin, if something works one week it may not work the next. "
Still, she doesn't pine for the days of film shooting. "Why look back?" she says. "Every style has its pros and cons. We've moved on. It's just a matter of letting old styles go." And there are opportunities every now and then to adapt to shooting different formats. "When I did the 2010 Canada Walk of Fame, we shot in HD and transmitted standard def. So I had to adjust what I was doing to match the output. That meant I needed to add a little more makeup and be really well blended so that you wouldn't notice it on HD, but to give enough coverage so that when it went into standard def it would look like there was enough makeup, so it would still look natural enough. So there are still times when you need those skills. "
Like cinematographers, Crombie strives to stay abreast of current techniques and equipment in order to stay marketable. "The last couple of years, I've gone down to LA and done some upgrading. So it’s a matter of making sure your skills are always being progressed and you're always working at it. I subscribe to industry trade magazines and go to trade shows and I do lots of practice days to make sure that my skills are up to snuff," she says. "And always asking questions and being open to learning and aligning myself with mentors who work bigger budget shows and who are doing different kinds of projects."