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Old June 26th, 2009, 11:37 AM   #1
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How to shoot human flight?

hi there.

my task is to shoot a romantic scene with a couple where they part and fly away from each other in a space-like environment, backwards, each in their own direction. it has to be shot against a green screen.

detailed instructions on how to do that, including all the necessary stunt equipment and wind-producing gear would be highly appreciated!
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Old June 27th, 2009, 04:33 AM   #2
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One of the things I do in my production management role is flying people. Here in the UK, Foys and Hi-fli are two specialist firms with the kit to do what you want. In the theatre and TV world general practice is never to attempt to fly people yourself. As a guide, these two firms will install the equipment and either train you to carry out the job, or will be do it themselves.

The current state of H&S in the UK means that it's a paperwork and risk assessment job.

The actual harnesses that the people are put into are not the kind you see sold by companies who flog PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), but specialist items that use thin aircraft style cable, on quick release attachments. In general, they are single wire, which attaches at the small of the back, or twin wire, which attaches at either hip. You can spray the cables green, but there will be some extra work in post getting rid of the wires where they cross the body. They can also build you special rigs that are designed to do exactly the effect you are thinking of.

If you want to fly people - then you need professional advice. The dangers of doing this wrong are pretty serious.

You have to take into account what you intend hanging them from - will there need to be purpose track involved - if you wish them to fly apart. Vertical and horizontal travel adds to the cost. One thing is for certain, it won't be cheap.

Just recently people have started to think about the medical effects of being suspended in harnesses, and there is indeed some risk. This means another level of assessment. If you do it on the cheap, and get them stuck up in the air, worst case, hanging there can kill them. Hence why current advice is never to attempt this without professional input.
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Old June 28th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #3
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Are you sure you couldn't do it all "in post"? The thing that occurs to me would be shooting one at a time against a green screen with the actor stationary and panning/zooming out

One shot panning left with actor A, one shot panning right with actor B. Composite them together against a stationary background (stars etc???) and it might work. May not be the greatest effect in the history of film and video, but if it's a quick shot. it might be good enough. Probably better than a lot of what used to be on TV 20 or 30 years ago!
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Old June 29th, 2009, 03:10 AM   #4
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Take a look at the special features on Robert Rodriguez movie 'Spy Kids 3D' ( Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) ) for some inspiration. His 'Ten Minute Film School ' feature has various on-the-set before and after shots.

He does fly people sometimes, but does very much with little more than moving the camera, and subtle actor movements.

-Mike
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Old June 29th, 2009, 09:19 PM   #5
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Very true about the potential for damage to people who are suspended in a harness.

On a WH&S level, if you are rigged up for work, fall, and are arrested by the harness that you are in ... you still need to be 'rescued' and be out of that harness by the 20 minute mark.

Andrew
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 03:00 PM   #6
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thanks for all your helpful and informative replies!

not in the UK at the moment, so won't be able to turn to any professional services, unfortunately. need to think up something safe and believable...
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 01:17 AM   #7
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I would suggest fans, cuts and pans.

Having been on the end of the wires on a Disney sound stage a number of years ago, I highly concur with Paul. I was standing in the middle of the floor, a whole bunch of people looking on, including the director, the stunt coordinator, et. al., and I was wearing the swim suit type harness with two wires at my waist on either side (as Paul explains). We had already done a couple of low level tests to make sure the center of gravity was right.

The director shouted, "Are we about ready back there?"

A few seconds of silence passed by, then from a corner of the stage, behind a curtain, I hear a muffled, "Oh, S*%T!!!" A half second later I was 65 feet in the air (20 meters). As I looked down I saw some very nervous men in suits that seemed to appear from nowhere.

I lived, and I just took it in stride, but it could have been a serious accident. I was in the studio that flew Peter Pan. These guys had a lot of experience and were professional. (It seems they put the counterweights on the wrong rope.

Then there was this other movie, a Universal picture with one of the most famous directors living. This mechanism was going to appear to kill me, as my head stuck out of a whole and a dummy body lay in front of me. They had the whole thing rigged and told me to get in the hole. I asked if they had tested it yet. They said they didn't need to, it was a simple operation. I said I wouldn't get in the hole until I saw it function once. There was a bit of mumbling about, then somebody said to test it.

The thing went off, and the horn of a bull size spike came up in an ark and stuck with incredible force right into where I was suppose to be. It would have killed me. This was the special effects department. The stunt coordinator leaned over to me and whispered, "You made the right call on that one.... No S*%T!

On the same movie I was going to be drug about 50 meters through the dirt at a fairly quick pace. I had a harness on with wires attached to two buckles that slide together and click locked (like on luggage straps and all kinds of things).

I was being dragged along nicely on my stomach, when suddenly there was a snap and I started flipping around in a spin, then another snap, and I stopped dead in the dust. The buckles had broken; the force had pulled the back off the prongs that snapped into place. The stunt coordinator (one of the most famous in the business) ran over and said what happend? I said I think the buckles broke. He said that was impossible, because these buckles were unbreakable. Then he saw they were broken. He said he'd never seen that happen before, and he'd pulled folks all over the territory.

In this case, there was any danger (other than what normally accompanies being pulled along at 15 mph through the dirt and rocks), but had this malfunction happened while flying about in the air, it would have been a different story.

Now I'm sure in Armenia there's been a stage production of Peter Pan, and those riggers might be available. (As to talk to Peter, just so you know he made it.) And aren't circuses popular there? I'm sure there are some riggers with experience. However, I would also have a plane ticket at hand to a country with an extradition treaty back to Armenia.

I still like the fans, cuts, and pans idea.
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 04:14 PM   #8
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Jack... are you a stuntman or are people just trying to knock you off by "accident"?

:-)
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 04:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
Jack... are you a stuntman or are people just trying to knock you off by "accident"?

:-)
Actor. I only did the "safe" students, meaning the stunts my agent didn't know about.

The safest stunts are the ones done in the middle of a production, when so much has already been shot that it's too expensive to redo, AND there's more stuff to shoot that's crucial to the story.
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 06:54 PM   #10
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You could put the actors on boxes with wheels, then pull the boxes apart with rope or wire.

With a green background and floor (and green rope) it should work pretty well. Shadows under the boxes and the wheels should be easy to fixe in post.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 01:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
You could put the actors on boxes with wheels, then pull the boxes apart with rope or wire.

With a green background and floor (and green rope) it should work pretty well. Shadows under the boxes and the wheels should be easy to fixe in post.
clever option... or perhaps it could be track+dolly instead of those boxes?
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Old July 16th, 2009, 08:47 PM   #12
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It depends entirely on the scope of the shot and what you require from it (is it a single shot, part of a larger flying sequence, does it require multiple angles? etc.). Before you spend any money on rigging, I'd strongly suggest seeing if you can't manage the shot you need with choreographed moves from the actors and just some dolly shots.

If you do need to rig things then again, the scope of the shot comes into play. A simple climbing-style harness with ropes rigged vertically (to lift the actors in the air) and a rope to pull them backwards (each with a couple of people to do the lifting/pulling) could work just fine if you're not going to lift your actors any higher than a foot off the ground. However anything more elaborate than that will require specialists with specialists equipment (the risks are too high).
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