In the world of cinema one of the most widely used special effects, exciting for the audience, is that of aging. Seeing a young actor in his turn as an old version,within a few minutes in a movie, has always fascinated and intrigued viewers . This requires a very percise attention to details, therefore it is difficult to satisfy the public with this effect .

Often, when we talk about aging, is believed that is represented by wrinkles , but this isn’t the whole story. Wrinkles are only one of many aspects that come into play in the transformation that occurs in the human body due to ageing. Let’s review some of these aspects, paying particular attention to the delicate area of the face :

1.Change in form of bone and cartilage

When aging, bones and cartilage change their shape and thickness. This not only affects the appearance of the joints and spinal column and then changing the posture, but also has very obvious effects on the body part above the neck. In fact nose , ears, facial shape and head size are all factors that tend to swell with time, going  which radically transform features of the face.

2. Loss of muscle tonicity

When aging, the muscle mass decreases and this is true both for the body and for the dozens of facial muscles . And so aging consequently empties and lowers most of the areas of the face such as cheeks, eyelids and chin .

3. Loss of elasticity and thickening

After bones, cartilage and muscles there is the skin that  when it’s the time, breaks down into dermis and epidermis. The dermis, the most inner layer, consists of elastin and collagen. These substances progressively diminish as the time goes by, causing a wrinkled skin that falls. The epidermis is instead mostly outer layer and is made up of billions of cell layers, which are renewed every three weeks. With age advancing this renewal slows down causing a thickening which results in an uneven grained, flaky skin, with large pores.

4. Complexion and brown spots

The loss of micro and macro nutrients due to the age makes skin visibly extinguished wiht uneven coloring. In addition, the accumulation of hours of sun exposure and metabolic problems cause the onset of typical dark spots of old skin.

Taking all these aspects into consideration is easy to see that making a character old is absolutely not a simple task to do. We must therefore arm ourselves with art and specific techniques. In the world of cinema the most  disparate techniques have been devised to make this a credible and spectacular effect. A prime example is given to us from the horror movie director and creator of cinematic effects, Mario Bava. His films were in black and white, and his technical advantage on this system was to use colors like red and blue on the actors faces. Then he used mutiple lights of the same colors had  used in the make-up, to make visible or invisible the facial areas rigged to appear wrinkled.

Nowadays, thanks to the experience of make-up techniques established for decades, and with the help of digital, we can admire true works of art of transformation. We take as examples the movies The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Mr Nobody . We chose these two films because they represent to us masterpieces and because they require a detailed analysis of digital and material techniques of aging.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

In this movie David Fincher tells us the curious case of Benjamin, born old but rejuvenated with the passage of time. To achieve this transformation has been used both digital techniques that make-up. Indeed, for the first 52 minutes of the film, when Benjamin is very old, his face was completely computer-generated. For what comes after, has been used techniques of material aging applied to the protagonist Bread Pitt .
This dual approach , as well as winning the well-deserved Oscar for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup, amazed and fascinated the public for the duration of the film, coming gradually from a very old to a vigorous young Benjamin.

Mr Nobody

Suppose , for the production of a film , to decide how to ageing an actor of more than eighty years. The most obvious choice would be to take another actor to play  the old version of the protagonist. There are not obvious and simple choices for the director Van Dormael , nor are those of its subject Nebo Nobody . Jarred Leto in fact, that as the title role, has undergone hours of make -up to make such a radical transformation happen. Indeed we can talk about additive sculpture seeing the amazing results.

Our Technique

We made a mask for the face to mimic wrinkles. This mask is optimum for a zonal aging, for example around the eyes. The ingredients are Aloe and Brewer’s Yeast. These are very economic ( a mask costs about 5 cents ) and affordable. Further these components are also good for the skin, after applying the mask the resualts are visible after like 5 minutes , and are easily washable with just water.






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