Competition shows are huge on television. Fan may get to interact with the competition, or just sit back and root for their favorite choices each season, waiting to see who will come out on top. The most intense shows are the ones that aren’t scripted and show real struggles and real people, and now the television network best known for its original shows has jumped the gun. SyFy, the popular science fiction and fantasy network, has created their own competition show, called Face Off.

Face Off is an original competition show where special effects makeup artists of all skill levels from around the country come together to compete for big prizes and the fame they all think they deserve. The cast members, a different number each season, put their best foot forward by creating original make ups based on the judges’ parameters. The cast members are judged on their skill, creativity, and time management skills as they only have between four and ten hours to complete each challenge.

Not only is the competition interesting, but the judges themselves are superstars in the special effects world. The first judge introduced is Glenn Hetrick, who owns his own makeup studio, Optic Nerve Studios, and has worked on several big name films including “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, the 1999 television show “Angel”, and the 2006 television show “Heroes”. The next panel judge is Oscar winning makeup artist Ve Neill, who is best known for her makeup work on the cult classic “Beetlejuice”, and also for her work with Hetrick on “Catching Fire”. The third judge started as Patrick Tatopoulos, a famous French FX makeup designer and monster concept creator who is known for his directing and concept art for the “Underworld” franchise. The judge that took his place when he left the panel to go work on a new movie is creature designer and concept artist Neville Page, who is known for such blockbuster hits as “Avatar”, “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, and “Prometheus”.

Starting in 2011, the cast members were mentored by none other than the Academy Award winning special effects make up artist Michael Westmore, who has been doing makeup since 1964 and has done everything from horror makeup to alien makeup on “Star Trek”. The show is hosted by Westmore’s daughter, McKenzie Westmore. McKenzie Westmore brings in numerous guest judges, including Brian Singer, director of the “X-Men” movies.

As the seasons go on, the challenges get more and more difficult, incorporating various levels of difficulty, from adding twists in the beginning, changing things in the middle of the work, and adding new levels of skill, such as making the makeup waterproof or able to be used in an action sequence. Each week, one person is eliminated, and only three people are entered into the finale to win the various grand prizes offered. Going into its ninth season, Face Off has been critically acclaimed, including nabbing a win in the COLA (California On Location Awards) for Location Professional of the Year, and got two Critics’ Choice Awards nominations for Best Reality Series. The new season airs on July 28th at 9/8 central on SyFy. Episodes can be watched on SyFy’s website, and on Hulu.

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