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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