College of Art and Architecture
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College of Art & Architecture
University of Idaho
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Moscow, ID 83844-2461
Faceoff Winner Builds Future on Solid Skills
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Written By Karen Hunt
Colorful paints splattered all over the model’s plaster shell as Rayce Bird added the final touches to his creature. Down to the wire and feeling the pressure, every design and creation put him one step closer to winning.
Bird, a University of Idaho alumnus, recently spent more than a month in Los Angeles competing on the SyFy Channel’s Faceoff. The reality television show pitted special effects makeup artists against other contestants. Creations included underwater creatures, horror villains and other worldly characters.
“We had a challenge every three days,” says Bird. “It was pretty intense.”
Fourteen contestants battled it out to impress three judges with the best design based upon a theme given to contestants just hours before. At the end of the challenge, the contestant with the weakest design was sent home.
Once the contestants were given a theme, they had to come up with a concept, draw it and then bring it to life on a real-life model. The contestants worked in a large warehouse full of paint, plaster and many other types of applications.
“There was a lot of stuff in the shop,” says Bird. “Realistically, I only used 15 percent of what was in there. Most of what I used was foam latex. I also used alcohol-based paint.”
Rayce received his degree from the University of Idaho in virtual technology design. The competition was Bird’s first experience using makeup and application design. For this reason, Bird thought his inexperience would send him packing early.
“For me, every episode was a lot of fun," says Bird. "I was just really happy to be there. It wasn't really until the last few episodes that I thought: ‘I could actually win this thing.’”
One of the most challenging characters Bird created was an alien. Approximately 11 different appliances were glued to the model to create the correct texture and color.
“It was tricky designing the eyes in a way that the model could see out of them,” says Bird.
Bird’s designs stunned the judges. He made it all the way to the final episode.
“I thought for sure Ian Cromer was going to win,” says Bird. “They said my name, and it took a second for it to register. It wasn’t the name I was expecting. My knees started to get weak and shaky. It was completely surreal.”
Minutes after the show wrapped, producers asked Bird what it felt like to win. He said he was still in shock. Because the program is taped months before it airs, he wasn’t allowed to share his excitement with anyone. But his wife found out when she read a text from another contestant congratulating Bird on the win.
Months later, he finally got the chance to reveal his secret at a season finale watch party he held at his Shelley, Idaho home. With his family and friends by his side, he watched their reaction as they watched him win the competition.
“For me, it was more about seeing their reactions,” says Bird. “I sat there with a smile on my face watching them scream and freak out.”
Bird won $100,000 cash, $25,000 in makeup supplies and a Toyota Camry. He credits his success on the show to his time spent as a student at the University of Idaho.
“Going up in front of the judges on Faceoff was a lot like receiving a critique from a professor,” says Bird. “You had to have a good reason for why you designed something a certain way.”
While his degree wasn’t in makeup or special effects, Bird says his degree is very artistic, as well as very scientific. Professors expected students to bring open minds and an intense focus to class each day.
“My time at the University and my degree put me ahead of the other contestants,” says Bird.
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