Makeup Academy Diary #7: What is HD Makeup?
It's alarming and depressing how many local MUAs advertise themselves as HD makeup artists yet have no standards other than "pak", "Instagram-ready" "well-blended" or "looks natural" for HD makeup.
I guess that's one level of looking at it. But that's so subjective and doesn't really explain anything. When I hear MUAs speaking this way, I feel so offended for my profession. Here's my take on it.
HD Makeup is a standard of putting on makeup that showcases perfect details. You can choose any method of doing it (traditional or airbrush) but it's not talking about a method. It's a standard. This is most important in TV makeup, as the advancement of cameras and TVs, plus the expansion of TV sizes meant that actors were under closer scrutiny.
You can achieve HD makeup any method you desire, whether traditional or airbrush, but the defining characteristic is the perfection of details. Some people say HD Makeup is just an advertising term, and that MUAs should be producing HD levels on all their clients. I think if you feel that way, then you don't really grasp how demanding HD makeup can be as it is supposed to show your face crisply on a monitor BIGGER than your actual face. So actually, 1 small stroke of too-much-eyeliner looks like nothing to the naked eye, but actually looks panda-like under 4k scrutiny.
Here's a quick example:
Here's a couple of swatches I was playing with just today. Ignore the top, orange one. The two red swatches are the same product. They're nothing really neat, both look quite messy. I prefer the bottom swatch because the stripe is more or less even. They're quite interchangeable, and that's probably okay for everyday makeup.
Here is a closeup. You begin to see how the topline of the top swatch has uneven lines. Everyday lipstick application, especially straight from the bullet, tends to look like that. The bottom swatch has a neater, albeit not fully opaque topline.
This is why the HD label matters. This is what HD really means. These are details that are okay face-to-face, but can kill you on the magazine closeup, giant flatscreen or billboard.
When I was in Korea, HD makeup was defined as 4k-passable (as of September 2016). 4k is a video resolution that should display at least 4000pixels wide, and the way you check the HD standard is by taking a snapshot with the same resolution, and checking the closeup makeup details of that photo. My teacher was well aware at the time that cameras were further improving, and she was on her toes about the next developing resolution. She jokingly predicted that it would probably be 8k next, and a quick Google search now indicates that there is 8k UHD :|
At the time, I had only known about 1080p resolution maximum from Youtube and movie downloads. I thought we were having some kind of language barrier. I checked on my phone. "4k" is a real thing. 1080p is considered HD while 4k is considered UHD. And according to her, 1080p was on its way out. Lol. Land of the Samsungs.
You couldn't really advertise yourself as an HD artist if you had no video or photography equipment to practice or capture such work. If all you have is an iPhone, and you don't have a monitor that could support such a resolution, you had no business talking about HD makeup in Korea. It wasn't elitism, it was professionalism. How could you call yourself a professional makeup artist if you are as vague as non professionals and can't even speak in clearer terms than them? Can a guy sketching rooms really call them architectural plans if he didn't even use a ruler?
That's the point I'm getting to. I'm not insulting anyone but I am calling the need for a "ruler." A real standard.
There is a huge difference in seeing your work across such resolutions - I know, from reviewing my works solely on my digital camera, solely on my tiny camera display for 3 whole months in academy... that I was embarrassed when I first saw my work with our in-house photographer. My teacher took the files, projected the face across a screen that took up a wall to check all my lines and symmetry. I then went with my teacher to the iMac, where she zoomed to fill the whole screen with an eye, or a lip. I was fucking panicking and shitting my pants and basically dying with embarrassment, while she kept on, pointing out all the feathering and every single lash that didn't adhere to the false lash band, which were not visible to the naked eye.
I asked her if it wasn't a little much, and she told me that average TVs in Korea are about 70-100 inches. If you embarrass an actress and slip on the details, your life might well be over. So even though the class wasn't picking up the tech side as fast as they wanted to, the teachers still made great efforts in making us understand the minimum we needed to know about how tech in photography affects our work. Whatever we didn't know, at least we knew the questions to ask the production team and how to prepare for the close ups.
These are the standards we should measure by. This is how the conversation should be directed. TVs here are not that huge yet and cable signals don't broadcast HD across a majority of households, so I am not demanding that Philippine-MUAs should strive for 8k-passing makeup. I'm fine if people consider 1080p-passing as HD makeup, because that's the most HD we have here. But this is how the discussion should be. Not fucking "Instagram-ready, pak, boom, ganern" on your iPhones and Oppos. Not just "natural." Not just "skin-like." Not just "well-blended." Not just "looks good on photos." We should be talking about presentable work on certain resolutions and magnifications.
Local MUAs are so quick to take up the jargon without even trying to live up to the demands. I recognize the talent, but I can't respect the lack of professionalism. There is no attempt to define terms. No attempt to set standards. At this point, it's not even about passing standards, but having an intelligent discussion about the standards, because there aren't any!
It really ticks me off when artists throw this word around casually. It's one thing to attempt and fail at HD makeup. I actually respect this. But to present HD makeup without even knowing why you passed or failed it? Have some respect for your profession. I know a lot of artists who take their education seriously, and it sucks for us to belong in an unregulated industry where people who don't know any better are noisier.
*The header photo features my lip closeup portfolio shot. Concept inspired by Vlada Haggerty.