Face Off 3.3: Fabricate This

Last night's Face Off took the series into unexplored territory again. Season 3 forged ahead with brand new ideas so far and I couldn't be more excited. Most reality shows already run out of steam by this point. Face Off refuses to go down that easily. It was the "design a makeup for live performance" challenge, but there was a great twist. The contestants weren't just making a character for dancers: they were making a full character concept for a traditional Chinese dragon dancer team. Each pair of designers had to incorporate two zodiac signs into a cohesive and functional performance look. That meant making the two man costume and the character alike. The makeups would be presented on stage before a very lively performance to see how durable the designs really were.

Essentially, it's the first official Face Off fabrication challenge. Contestants have won or lost because of their fabrication--prop, costumes, accessories, etc.--skills in previous seasons. There have even been challenges where the totality of the look was stressed. This is the first time that the ability to create a costume and appropriate accessories had to be weighed in as heavily as effects makeup for everyone.

The top teams for the challenge were Rod & Nicole, Alana & Laura, and Derek & Tommy. Rod & Nicole used the snake and the rat to create a very traditional dragon costume. Had the challenge been judged on authenticity, they would have won. The color scheme and use of flags on the head were perfect for this task. The costume moved very well during the dance. It really was a beautiful and traditional design.

Nicole & Rod

Derek & Tommy used the monkey and the ox for another traditional look. Their dragon concept was executed perfectly and really looked like the work of one person. My one issue with this design in a Chinese dragon costume challenge was the use of traditional Japanese patterns and motifs. The overall effect was great. I just wish they didn't cross cultures for the challenge. I have to hand it to this team. The red and the gold stood out like nothing else in the performance number.

Derek & Tommy

Alana & Laura were my picks to win. What will it take for Laura to actually win a challenge on this show? Their combination of the goat and the rat was quite striking. Nothing else looked like it during the performance. I will admit that it was perhaps a bit too sinister to really fit the challenge head on, but no other team actually designed a "mask" that would read during a parade or showcase performance.

Alana & Laura

Derek & Tommy's look came out on top for its cohesion. Derek was awarded the victory for his design concept.

Here's where Face Off can get a little sad. The bottom two looks were very good, as well. These decisions came down to judges' preferences and I don't agree with all of them.

Eric & Sarah were in the bottom largely because of their color scheme. Apparently, blue and orange don't go together in makeup design. It's a pretty common design combination, especially in the shades they chose, so the criticism threw me for a loop. The horns were very uneven and the facial prosthetic fell in between perfect symmetry and agreeable asymmetry. Their zodiac influences weren't as clear as the other designs. I saw monkey, but I did not see boar.

Eric & Sarah

Jason & Roy wound up in the bottom because of their paint job. The dark red used to bring out the snake hid all the detail in the sculpt. The rabbit was lost completely in the color. It wass quite a striking character if you could get past the poor color choice. Will these contestants ever learn that red does not read well on the bright purple set of Face Off? No? Ok then.

Jason & Roy

Ultimately, Eric & Sarah's look was deemed the worst and Eric went home for fabricating the horns. That's not exactly a bad thing. If you're eliminated on this kind of show just because someone didn't like an accessory to a costume, it's not going to hurt your professional reputation. This was the equivalent of going home on Top Chef because the guest judge doesn't care for raw onions in a side salad. This was clearly a matter of taste and no reflection on the actual abilities of Eric as a special effects makeup artist.

Thoughts on the latest episode? I loved the challenge more than you can imagine. I can only hope this season keeps stressing story and function in the designs rather than rewarding contestants for elaborate but impractical makeups. Sound off with your thoughts below.

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