Thursday, November 20, 2008

Easy to Do Homemade Death Ray Special Effect

Every young science-fiction fan at one time or another have wished that they could make some sort of death ray or laser special effects just like in the movies. It's an old cliche yes, and stereotypical for science fiction weapons, but it's still exciting to see visually.

Old Hollywood movies have made us of a variety of props to achieve the effect. Some have even used a sheet of cloth that's pulled quickly out of the muzzle of a handheld weapon. Quick cutting and sound effects help to make the visual play convincing.

If Hollywood was able to do that for commercial films, then why not you? As a movie fan, you deserve the right to make your own mechanical special effects without the criticism of your peers. Just tell them how these things were done before computer graphics and animation and that it takes more creativity to pull a convincing one off. Here is a do-it-yourself video (DIY) in which you can learn how to make your own death ray-gun for your home movie. Enjoy!

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reclaiming the Blade Documents History of the Sword Using Cinema

What do you get when you bring together some actors from Lord of the Rings in a documentary movie about the history of the sword? You get a movie called Reclaiming the Blade and it takes you on a ride through time.

Narrated by John Rhys-Davies, this movie is for fans of sword and sorcery movies like Excalibur. It takes you on a fascinating ride showing the facts, fiction, and fascination behind the sword. The movie shows how the sword was once an icon of defense, war, and honor and how it's now used as a symbol of the same in movies like Star Wars, Beowulf, and Lord of the Rings or simply as a prop to inspire those who still believe in it's mystique.

It features prominent swords master and stunt coordinator Bob Anderson (left), who has taught the likes of Errol Flynn and tutored contemporary actors like Viggo Mortensen in swordsmanship.

If there's a real Obi-Wan Kenobi, it's Anderson. He was Darth Vader in some lightsaber fight scenes with Mark Hamill (top).

It's a little secret few people know about. But now you know, and there's more to know about the secrets of the sword in the documentary movie Reclaiming the Blade.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

DIY Movie Knife Throw Special Effects Are Easy to Do Safely at Home

In the movie Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (above), which stars Rhona Mitra, there are lots of bladed weapons being swung and thrown.

In horror movies like this (left picture is a scene from Halloween), there's almost always the popular knife-throw special effects. You know, someone throws a bladed weapon and it sticks into something - like a wall.

Well, one way of duplicating this effect is to have the blade already placed beforehand in the spot of impact. It works quite well with long, thin blades, like those used in wushu, because you can make the blade quiver before the camera pans to it from the direction of the blade thrower. This is ideal if the sequence starts with the thrower and the camera "follows" the flight of the blade (which should be just for an instant), unti it hist the target. It takes timing, but it's doable and easy.

Another knife throw effect that's easy to do is to prepare the point of impact to receive the blade. Only this time, the blade would be coming from the other side of the target (like a thin wall). The thrower pretends to throw the blade, but what he really does is to drop it behind him and just goes through the motions. In time with the action, a stage hand drives the "real" blade from behind the wall, giving the illusion that it was the one that came from the thrower's hand. This technique is a favorite of stage magicians, but if also sometimes used in movie shoots as a mechanical effect.

Here is a video where you can learn more about do-it-yourself knife-throw special effects in filming.

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