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Makeup contest set on Syfy

The Syfy Channel is looking for someone who can create the next great Elephant Man or Ostrich Girl.

Mad scientists need not apply. "Face Off" is a new reality competition to search for the top special-effects makeup artists among 12 contestants.

They'll be judged each week on how creative they can be in challenges such as creating human/animal hybrids or creatures that might inhabit a newly discovered planet.

There's more than bragging rights at stake.

The winner receives $100,000 and a year's worth of makeup supplies.

"Our contestants run the gambit a little bit. There are some that are right out of makeup school that are aspiring to break into the business, and there's some that are in the business but really just looking for their big break," said executive director Dwight D. Smith.

"I think the thing they all have in common is that they all have an incredible imagination and incredible vision and were incredibly talented."

They will be judged by top names in special effects makeup: Glenn Hetrick, Patrick Tatopoulos and Ve Neill.

Tatopoulos, whose work can be seen in "The Cave" and "Resident Evil: Extinction," will be looking for someone who has more than just the right techniques. He wants originality.

"It's super, super important that someone brings something new to the table. When we saw different high-quality makeup out there, we had to make a choice," Tatopoulos said.

"We look at what was the most original makeup because remaining original and being passionate about your work is what made people successful in the project."

Glenn Hetrick, who most recently created special makeup effects for the TV series "Heroes," agreed originality is key - but it must go hand-in-creature hand with technique.

"When you learn to be a makeup effects artist, the amount of commitment and discipline it takes to try to learn all of these things - it takes a lot of time in your mother's basement when everybody else is out having a party or playing football and you got to just keep sitting, because it's only through a massive amount of repetition that you can succeed in mastering the human form, whether it's on paper as a designer or it's sculptural or even painting in and of itself is incredibly difficult," Hetrick said.

Each week, contestants will have access to the top names in the business.

Even the host, McKenzie Westmore, comes from a long line of makeup experts. Her great-grandfather, a wig maker to the king and queen of England, opened a wig shop in Hollywood.

Rudolph Valentino came into the shop for help when he accidentally shaved off his mustache. That was the birth of the makeup artist. Now the new Syfy series wants to help keep the tradition going.

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