Saturday, April 08, 2006

More angst from technology.

The Times April 08, 2006


Are they ready for a close-up?
by Hannah Betts

How is the beauty industry combating TV’s new era of high-definition wrinkles?

The old thespian joke about having the perfect face for radio looks set to gain new currency this spring as high-definition television (HDTV) starts to be relayed to hundreds of thousands of British homes.

As media moguls rub their hands, so a shiver of horror has gone through the performing industry. For the hyper- real quality of HDTV may make the beautiful game still more beautiful but it is set to wreak havoc among celebrities of a certain age; that age being anything over 14.

Not since the introduction of colour in the 1970s will there have been such a revolution in quality of viewing. The high-definition image has more lines of resolution, allowing for dramatically more detail than ever before. And with two to three times the precision of DVD and movie footage, and four times the clarity of standard definition television, every wrinkle will be a crevasse, every pore a black hole.

At Sky, which looks set to be the first big provider of this punishing new realism, rumours abound concerning presenters seeking out “Botox budgets” and peels. Beauties may have their reputations ruined by the screening of footage that reveals them warts and all, seats could lie vacant at awards ceremonies where red-carpet scrutiny is too much for fragile egos to bear.

Not only is HDTV an ideal medium for sport, it has also generated an alternative sport in the United States, where the technology has been available for over five years. Phillip Swann edits the TV Predictions site, on which he rates the most terrifying HD celebrities (

Teri Hatcher is outed for a bulbously veined forehead, Demi Moore for being coarse and leathery, Donald Trump for orange-streaking and flaccid cheeks. The traditional recourses of the older performer — surgery, heavy Botox, being Tango-ed — appear too blatant and will no longer render one ready for one’s close-up. Smooth-skinned beauties such as Nicole Kidman may be rejoicing.

Younger starlets do not fare much better, with Swann noting Keira Knightley’s high-definition acne during the 2006 Oscars. Alas for young Keira, slap-wise, even the lightest euphemistic veil can take on the subtlety of cement applied with a trowel.

Nevertheless, the cosmetics giants are viewing HDTV as a research and development opportunity. Clinique has cornered the market in high- definition slap. Dr David Orentreich, the company’s dermatologist, says: “HDTV is a real issue for performers. An analogy would be that seeing skin through a standard format is like looking into a regular mirror. Seeing it through HDTV is like looking with a magnifying mirror. It exacerbates the appearance of redness, scars, pigmentation irregularities and shows every line, pore, and discoloration.”

A daily skincare routine, religious use of sunscreen, good diet and a ban on smoking and extreme weight fluctuation are — as ever— the key to looking good. Clinique has also come up with an HDTV action kit: not least, its new CX range of skin nourishers, correctors and concealers (from £28). However, Sandra Exelby, the chairwoman of the National Association of Screen Make-up Artists and Hairdressers, says: “It’s all about applying make-up properly rather than using new brands.”

Otherwise, stars risk falling prey to the put-down issued by Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, in which she describes a rival as a “Monet”: alluring from a distance, but a chaos of daubs and artifice close up.

The psychological effects of this new technology should not be underestimated. The aura that film and television companies have been able to create around their stars by means of lighting, air-brushing and the like will be stripped away to expose the all-too real individuals beneath.

We mere mortals may even look rather better. Behold the revenge of the little people.

Screen-able skin

To get the requisite flawless visage, Dr Orentreich, a dermatologist, recommends fractional resurfacing. This is a laser treatment which aims to reduce wrinkles, broken blood vessels and sun damage.

Judicious use of Botox and light chemical peels should go undetected on HDTV.
But if your red-carpet invite arrives late, leaving you no time to indulge in some non-invasive cosmetic surgery, opt for light foundation — but not too light-reflective as it makes skin look greasy and sweaty.

And avoid red or yellow make-up as HDTV picks up on these colours far more than pink or bronze-based hues.


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8:53 AM  

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