Reality check: 'Face Off' winner lights up the stage

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So, as "Face Off" season finales go, this wasn't the most original spotlight challenge. Other seasons took the designers to weird versions of "Swan Lake," fractured fairy tales and a Vegas-type water show. Tuesday they got a lights-out, underground rave put on by dubstep music producer Rusko.

The three finalists -- Savini school grad Tyler Green of Litchfield, Conn., Rashaad Santiago of New York City and George Schminky of San Juan, Puerto Rico -- had to choose a constellation as inspiration. They then had to create rival alien races -- one male, one female -- that incorporated lighting and glow-in-the-dark paint.

As usual, they had help from eliminated contestants in this four-day challenge. Mr. Green chose Leo, and his aliens bore a faint resemblance to big cats. Mr. Santiago's was Ursa Major (bear) and Mr. Schminky's was Cetus (whale). There were the usual potential catastrophes in the shop -- the latex on one of Mr. Schminky's cowls tore, a mold wouldn't cure for Mr. Santiago.

The ultimate reveal came when the models took their places on stage in an elaborate dance amid lasers and black lights. Unlike other "Face Off" finales, it was difficult to make out whose creations were whose, given the lights, noise and confusion. But in the end, Mr. Santiago was named the winner and collected the keys to a Fiat and $100,000, among other prizes.

One of the best things about this show is the camaraderie among contestants. When Mr. Santiago's name was called, his competitors turned to give him a hug as he dropped to the floor.

"I don't feel like a loser," Mr. Green said later.

Season 7 of "Face Off" premieres in July.

'Creature' time change

Beginning Tuesday, Syfy's "Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge" moves up an hour to take the 9 p.m. time slot temporarily vacated by "Face Off." Serving as guest judge that day will be Neville Page, one of the "Face Off" regular judges.

Seton Hill senior Jake Corrick is still around, but it was a rocky week on "Creature Shop." The remaining six artists were paired to create larger-than-life puppets that would glow in the dark (must have been luminescence week on Syfy) and move realistically.

Handspring Puppet Co.'s "War Horse" designs came to mind, but it was the black unicorn puppet created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop (naturally) that pranced out to inspire during the creature brief. Lady Gaga has ridden this beauty on stage, and its lifelike movements were impressive.

Two of the teams chose to create long-necked birds (the one produced by Art Institute grad Robert Bennett of Orlando, Fla., was nicknamed Lady Caw-Caw.) Mr. Corrick and his partner, Lex Rudd of Guerneville, Calif., tackled Tiny, a lumbering dinosaur/reptile.

Although it had an especially cool tail and head, the legs -- and the leg movement -- on Tiny were lacking. The judges noted that Mr. Corrick spent too much time sculpting the face when it could have been done more quickly in other materials, and they didn't like the legs Ms. Rudd made.

In the end, she went home.

Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.

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