Face Off Finale
Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

Syfy’s Face Off wrapped up its third season last night, crowning another Face Off king – well, it’s actually a queen since a woman won for the first time. In another Face Off first, the judges didn’t have a say in who took home top prize. Earning the most fan votes was Sacremento-based makeup artist Nicole Chilelli.

EW was in the small audience of the intimate live show, so we have the report about what was happening last night at a studio north of Los Angeles, on the same stage where Face Off shoots the makeup reveal and elimination segments. Here are six things from the finale that you didn’t see on TV:

1. Family greetings. The eliminated contestants took their seats before the taping began, but since the finalists made their fog machine-backed entrance during the show, they used the first commercial break to say “Hi” to their families. They had to stay in their seats, but all three of them waved to their spouses, siblings and parents across the stage. Chilelli shouted, “Hi, Mom! Do you like my dress?”

2. Alana, the eager clapper. Alana Schiro’s big personality was just as present at the live finale as it was during the rest of the season taped months earlier. She was always the first among the contestants to start applauding – sometimes maybe too eagerly. After judge Patrick Tatopoulous had said a few words about Chilelli, Schiro immediately started applauding, motivating the audience to clap with her. But host McKenzie Westmore had a few more things to say before the show went to commercial, so the applause died down before it picked up again to lead into the commercial break. But Schiro never stopped clapping that whole time – she just dialed it down to a polite golf clap.

3. More Alana antics. The commercial breaks weren’t much of a break for Schiro. During one, she gave finalist Derek Garcia a backrub. During another she tried to start the wave, which Tommy Pietch, Jason Milani, Sarah Miller and a nearby camera operator all joined in on.

4. A long, long wait. Wondering what was that bunch of yelling you heard during that long wait for the winner’s named to be announced? It may have sounded like an indecipherable, angry mob on TV, but that was the audience shouting out cheers like, “Go Nicole!” and “You got this, Laura!” And that wasn’t happening at that moment – those shout-outs had been taped earlier at the direction of the production crew. For everyone inside that studio, without the cheers and without the shots of each finalist, the intense wait felt much longer and was a lot quieter. “That was a really long wait,” Garcia told EW after the show. “I didn’t expect it to be that long.” Chilelli’s father, Tony Chilelli, Sr., said of that breath-holding moment, “I just couldn’t think. I kind of blacked out, was in a void. When they announced her name, all the air left my body. I couldn’t believe it.”

5. Autograph time! After the show finished taping, finalist Laura Tyler carefully walked over the layer of slippery confetti to get autographs from the show’s contestants and judges. But that’s not her consolation prize. The signed photo will go to the highest bidder to help a friend. “It’s actually for a friend of mine, Brian Wolf,” Tyler said. “He’s battling cancer, and he and his friends had a great idea: If I came out here and got everyone’s autograph, we could auction off a photo so that we could give that money to his chemotherapy.”

6. Lots of hugs for the winner. When Westmore announced the winner’s name, Chilelli’s mother and sister immediately leapt up from the front row of the audience and ran in to embrace their winner. Chilelli got that bouquet of red roses from her mother. Schiro and Miller went in for a group hug with Tyler first, and Wooley pushed through the crowd to give Chilelli a long hug.

Syfy’s Face Off returns for a fourth season in January 2013.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

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