CLASSROOM: How to Use Lighting to Make Actors Look Older or Younger
A few simple light tricks can soften an actor’s face, or make it appear craggy and harsh, changing their entire appearance. A recent video from Aputure features DP Jon Salmon, who tells you how you can achieve those dramatic looks.
Light can be used almost like makeup. If you know how cosmetics work, you can use lighting in similar ways.
For instance, although it may seem counter-intuitive, you can actually use light as a concealer. If an actor has a blemish you want to cover, shine a light right on it, and it will vanish. Similarly, big light sources can act as a “base,” and soften an entire face.
Finally, Salmon recommends putting lights close to your subject’s eyeline to make it look the most flattering.
Making your actor look older
For a grim, prison/horror scene in which the actor needs to be aged up, Salmon uses an LS-1C as a top light above the subject. He notes it’s one of the most unflattering placements for a light source, as it carves out every imperfection on the face.
He also places a small battery-powered F7 light in diffusion in the actor’s lap for some underlight. Along with a spotlight pointed at the wall behind the actor, this set-up resulted in a grim, scary scene with a craggy-faced, aged-up actor.