Apr '17 | Crew Spotlight: Nikol Elaine, Makeup Artist

It’s time for our third Crew Spotlight!

This week is all about makeup and our incredible Makeup Artist, Nikol Elaine! (If you missed our previous two spotlights, click the links to read about Steadicam Op Drew Dorsey and Sound Mixer Shawn Doyle).

So far, our Spotlights have covered the technical qualities that make a video look and sound great, but now it’s time to focus on the people in front of the camera. Let’s meet Nikol and hear from the expert herself what it takes to capture your best on camera look!


PP: What do you love about being a makeup artist?


I really do love people, and find it so fun to laugh with complete strangers! I think a lot of this feeling comes from the fact that I am a freelancer and when I am not working on a photoshoot, I am home in my office alone. It really fuels me to be out with people in my zone. Often I am working with people who have never had someone touching their face, applying makeup. This is somewhat of an intimate or intimidating thing depending on your comfort level. It really is my job to find that balance of creating an experience for the client to sit down and breathe a little.



PP: Absolutely. Being on set can feel overwhelming for anyone, especially if you’re going in front of the camera. What is the most challenging aspect of your job on set?


On many jobs, I wish that there was 2 of me! Often times, I am doing both makeup and hair for the client and if there is more than one person on camera I always want one eye on the client, one eye on the monitor, and of course both eyes on the person in my chair! I am always looking for a crooked tie, hair out of place, piece of lint on the sweater and like to make sure that all the little details are being looked after.


PP: Do you find different makeup artists have different styles? If so, how would you describe your style?


Yes absolutely! I would define my style as a “clean, natural, and looking like the best version of yourself” type of makeup. I don’t like to “cake” on makeup products, and would rather let your skin show through.


PP: Totally! With that in mind, how would you describe the biggest benefits of having a makeup artist on a shoot?


Film is a visual medium, which means a video often relies on the appearance of its subjects. Having a makeup expert on set is the best way to ensure everyone will look like their best selves. A professional makeup artist will be able to see what the camera will see and account for it. This means that they will be able to help remove any imperfections and/or shine that might not be noticeable to the naked eye. Most times when there is lighting involved on a shoot, the skin can look shiny or oily on camera. A makeup artist will be able to minimize the shine and also look for the small details that one might not notice. ie: shaving a neck, blemishes, tweezing eyebrows, discoloration, etc.


PP: For those of us who are less familiar with makeup, especially makeup for camera, what are your best tips for people to prepare for a shoot?


I like to recommend a few things that may be obvious to some, but I find most people don’t think about before being on camera:

  • Try to get to sleep at a decent hour before a day of shooting
  • Try to avoid salty foods the night before the shoot
  • Do not wear any glittery makeup products
  • Do not worry if you have a blemish as those are easily covered up
  • Have your hair clean and dry, and
  • If applicable, make sure any facial hair is recently groomed.


PP: Along those lines, what are your top 3 general makeup best practices?


  1. Wash your makeup brushes on a regular basis (a gentle shampoo is great for this)
  2. I encourage you to use skin care products (ie: lotions, oils, moisturizers) that are ‘clean’ or have a shorter list of ingredients. Also to look for ingredient lists that you can pronounce. These products are usually the first thing on your skin morning and night, so I love to suggest brands that are aware of what they put in.
  3. Throw out your makeup from time to time. Makeup does expire! Most packaging will have a logo on it that suggests the expiration date. ie: many liquid products last 6-12 months and powders up to 2 years. Don’t keep makeup for years, especially if it has a smell to it!


PP: And to end with – what do you think is the most important aspect of your job?


That would definitely be helping my clients feel at ease and comfortable not only when they are with me, but as they prepare to get in front of a camera. Some may not notice that a big part of their time in my chair is helping them to relax, or laugh a little!


To give you a taste of what Nikol’s work is like on camera, and to continue the theme of our crew’s presidential connections (check out Shawn’s Spotlight!), here’s a fun video Nikol worked on!


In May we’ll be spotlighting our Technical Expert, Lane Genzlinger! Check back to learn more about the equipment that makes it happen and why using better lenses will give you a better video. Until next time!

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K'Dee Miller is the Founder & Creative Director of Patina Pictures.

Her feature films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. Her corporate video clients span from technology companies such as Microsoft, RingCentral, DocuSign and Adobe, to Bay Area nonprofits such as Team4Tech and Hamilton Families.

She's studied her industry from every angle, receiving production training from The Juilliard School, an MFA of Writing from University of San Francisco, and a BFA of Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

She is currently in the process of writing a memoir about growing up in the wilderness of Alaska.