It is always exciting for me to see what my friends are up to after school, and today, it is such a pleasure to introduce to you Aditi Khosla, an inspiring, creative and clever young woman I met in high school.
Aditi is a visual effects artist in post production; working on television shows and feature films in Hollywood, and I couldn’t be happier to feature her today.
Read on as we talk about working in a male-dominated industry, the pressures young women face from the media and something pretty new to me… digital makeup!
Hi Aditi! First of, how did you get into this line of work?
Having attended colleges in Singapore, London and New York, I was able to take my fine art skills and focus them into the digital world of post production and visual effects.
Inspired by the ability to manipulate what one sees in TV and film, my passion grew towards landing myself several jobs working on high profile productions such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., etc. with clients such as Taylor Swift, Gucci, Prada and White House | Black Market to name a few.
My experiences in New York whilst completing my computer art degree at the School of Visual Arts and doing a variation of internships eventually lead to me working directly in the TV and film industry as a professional once I graduated.
I moved from New York to Los Angeles as soon as I realized how far I could climb up the career ladder with my abilities in digital visual effects. Other than my editorial/fashion clients, I have already worked on big TV shows, films, commercials and music video projects such as Limitless, Sleepy Hollow, Chrysler, Taylor Swift’s music video “Blank Space”, Joseph Kahn’s “Power/Rangers”, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Walking Dead and many more.
My passion grew from fine arts to digital footage based compositing, a lot of the time involving beauty and digital make up work. For The Walking Dead, many of my tasks were to add to the practical effects (the on-set make up) and increase the gore. Increasing the ‘zombie’ make up digitally and ensuring the highest quality was my main priority.
That is incredible. Your success so far is really inspiring! But I’m sure it was not without its challenges. What are some of the challenges you’ve professionally faced in this line?
Some of the challenges I’ve faced in my industry have a lot to do with fashion, appearance, and hobbies outside of work… strangely enough, I felt quite targeted just because I had an interest in beauty routines and fashion.
What about being a woman in your very male-dominated industry?
Women in my industry feel the need to ‘blend in’. I felt like I needed to start reading comics, playing video games, watching every single movie out there so that I would have something to talk about at work. I felt like people looked at me and saw someone who was an outsider even though I was on an equal professional level to them. It felt isolating and would sometimes make me question who I am and what I’m doing in this industry. It took me two long and quietly painful years to begin understanding that I should be proud of who I am originally and not change myself to fit in. I still feel inadequate and pushed around a little bit but I’m tying to remedy that by staying strong.
I’m glad you got to that place. We talked bit about digital makeup – can you tell me more?
I had to do a lot of digital make up work to clean up skin imperfections on actors, such as removing eye bags, cleaning up facial scars/acne, reducing an actor’s size…
I should know this…
This type of work exists in photography retouching as well, but my job is to take photo-retouching to the next level and apply it to footage, a moving camera, moving objects and people, and make sure it all blends in to the scene and looks realistic. Theres nothing worse than looking at someone or something that looks too airbrushed!
That’s crazy – I never thought film or moving images could be airbrushed!
Another example I have done would be for actress Scarlett Johansson in the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, for her role as Black Widow. Johansson was several months into her pregnancy, and she was still filming the movie. My job as a digital compositor in visual effects was to digitally manipulate the footage by carrying out a method called “paint out”, which would be to ‘paint’ a new image over her existing baby bump, and add computer generated geometry using 3-D software that looks exactly like her, but with a flat stomach.
This was quite a feat, as her movement in the movie was quite swift and constant. We had to track her movement in each shot, make sure the lighting, colour, perspective and textures of the CG image sequence matched the ones in the original footage exactly, so not to throw off the viewer into thinking she was ‘fake’. We needed her to look as real as possible, while removing the baby bump!
As a huge Marvel movie fan, I’m kinda freaking out. So that being said, do you think that the media is to be blamed for the pressures young women face today – as far as how they look?
There is something to be said when beauty and clean up work such as slimming down models and actors goes too far… the female workforce can end up feeling unattractive and inadequate when making these kinds of changes to actors and actresses who are already naturally beautiful, as it makes us turn towards ourselves and question our own beauty.
I have strived to maintain my principles on body image and body health throughout doing this kind of work during my career. Working on making models and actors look skinny in post production can take a toll on your own self esteem… but if you’re able to talk with clients and discuss a realistic approach to thinning up a woman’s body for entertainment and media purposes, you’re helping society understand that we as human beings come in different shapes and sizes, and aiming for healthiness is aiming for beauty.
What is your personal beauty routine like?
For the girl on-the-go, I would recommend lots of regimes that can work their magic overnight, so when you wake up in the morning you’re already halfway done with getting ready!
For example, if I want my hair to be wavy the next day, instead of spending time curling it with an iron in the morning – I dampen my hair slightly at night before going to bed and tie my hair into a braid. I make two braids on either side of my head if I wanted it to be extra wavy.
I ask because I can imagine you are super busy.
A few years ago there was one point where I was working constantly with no break, and I really needed a product that could save me all the trouble of getting ready quickly in the morning. I remember reading your blog and learned all about dry shampoos! You had recommended the Batiste brand, which I actually bought after reading your article about it and it has worked for me all these years! Just a little spritz here and there in your hair, and voila, you’re looking brand new ready for your day. And it lasts all day – not like other brands, which fade throughout the day.
That is awesome – I’m glad my blog could help! OK, because I’m super curious to what everyone is using, what are some of your products?
My favourite product has been by Kenzo, “Vital Ice Cream” Ginger Flower Revitalization Care. I put it on in the morning before I apply my make up, so that it can get to work in smoothing, firming and rehydrating my skin using natural ingredients throughout the day. It’s a great base for make up!
As it says on its website, it’s made with a plant called Huang Qin – a perennial plant that grows in China. Its root extract is used in traditional Chinese medicine for its soothing action. It enriches the cream with its anti-oxidant properties. The scent is beautifully natural, and leaves you feeling light, fresh and ready for the day.
I’m learning so much from chatting with you, Aditi – I also had no idea Kenzo did a beauty range! I’ll end with a question about the future: what is one wish/hope you have for your industry?
My dream for this industry is that they ease up on making women feel like they have to change themselves to fit in.
I would hope that other women would stop feeling the need to bully and demean other women entering the industry who have interests beyond the typical male in my field. It has taken over 10 years for women to get the same pay as their male counterparts, and I would hope that our treatment gets to this level as well. I don’t want to have to ‘dress down’ so that people take me seriously at my workplace.
The retouching is on the same level – in hopes of shaping the industry’s standard for what beauty is, I would like to continue doing my best efforts in influencing clients to demand less unrealistic appearances on women and men in the TV and film industry.
Thanks so much for chatting with me, Aditi. It’s been so much fun – I wish you all the best in Hollywood!