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Q: Sword Piercing Movie Effect ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Sword Piercing Movie Effect
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Movies and Film
Asked by: fujtech-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 05 May 2006 20:24 PDT
Expires: 04 Jun 2006 20:24 PDT
Question ID: 725934
I'm an amateur film maker, and I am trying to understand how film
makers are able to carry out scenes without cutting that include full
piercing of swords from all angles, and blood, and flesh, all in live
time. For example, I know the methods for making somebody look like
they've been cut, but how do you do this in one scene without a cut
right after a sword slash?

I will offer extra money to anyone who can post actual links to
products that can be purchased over the internet. Again, I'm not
looking for tips on swordfighting, or links to decorative weapons, I'm
looking for real information on how to either build props or buy them
that will actually look like they're stabbing into someone.

Clarification of Question by fujtech-ga on 13 May 2006 21:54 PDT
Actually, I don't really care about the blood so much, all I want is a
specific way to make a sword look like it's piercing a person. If it's
a prop, I'd like to know how to buy it, if it's a camera trick, I'd
like to know how it's done, if it's a CG effect, I'd like to know what
programs to use. However, I've seen it done in very old movies, so
there must be a simple way other than CG. I'll be upping the money for
this question, so hopefully somebody can give me an answer soon.

Request for Question Clarification by leapinglizard-ga on 17 May 2006 21:20 PDT
My web research leads me to believe that live sword-piercing effects
are accomplished with the use of a telescoping sword. Because the
blade partially retracts when pressure is applied at the sword tip, it
appears as though the sword were entering the flesh. Padding and
ideally a blood pack should be applied at the site of the wound prior
to piercing.

Unfortunately, I haven't found a set of instructions for this
procedure, but I do know where you can get a suitable sword. Would
this suffice as an answer?


Clarification of Question by fujtech-ga on 21 May 2006 12:59 PDT
If you can post those links that would be really great, thanks.
However, I don't think google will let me accept your answer as an
official answer being that you're not a google researcher.

Request for Question Clarification by techtor-ga on 21 May 2006 21:38 PDT
Hi Fujtech,
Who are you referring to in your clarification above? I'd just like to
clarify as well that alanna-ga, leapinglizard-ga, and myself are
qualified Researchers for this site. You can probably confirm that as
our usernames are clickable (at least it appears so in my interface).
Do please let us know which one of us you are referring to, thanks.

Clarification of Question by fujtech-ga on 24 May 2006 12:14 PDT
I'm gonna go with leaping lizard's answer if he can provide some
direction was to where to acquire some suitable swords.
Subject: Re: Sword Piercing Movie Effect
Answered By: leapinglizard-ga on 29 May 2006 00:10 PDT
Dear fujtech,

If you live in or around New York City, you can swing by Jauchem &
Meeh in Brooklyn to check out their retractable short swords and
retractable knives.  See under the heading "Rentals - Edged Weapons"
on the following page.

Jauchem & Meeh: Weapons Rentals

If you are far from Brooklyn, fret not, for there are several good
alternatives. One of these is to buy a retractable Tai Chi sword,
which has a telescoping blade and a relatively blunt tip. This is not
a ceremonial piece but a practice sword used in Tai Chi exercises. At
the end of the following forum discussion, you'll see that a Tai Chi
practitioner recommends his retractable swords as a way to achieve the
piercing effect.

Cosplay Forums: Trick Swords

Among the suppliers of retractable Tai Chi swords are Wing Lam Enterprises
and Dragon Gate.

Wing Lam Enterprises: Retractable Tai Chi Straight Sword

Dragon Gate: Retractable Tai Chi Sword

If all you need is a knife-piercing effect, you can buy modestly priced
retracting knives from a costume shop.

Costumes Inc.: Theatrical Weapons: Deluxe Retractable Knife

Costumes Inc.: Theatrical Weapons: Disappearing Knife

But if your film must show impalement by sword, an inexpensive alternative
to the retractable Tai Chi sword is the trick sword, known as a "gaff",
used by fake sword swallowers. The gaff is a telescoping sword that is
included in cheap magic kits such as the following.

eBay: Sword Swallowing

eBay: Magic Sword Swallowing Illusion

eBay: Sword Swallowing Trick

For the greatest realism, you would want to film the sword not only
pushing into the victim's flesh but emerging on the other side. For this
effect, you have to shell out quite a bit more, either by purchasing
and adapting a sword-through-body magic illusion or by turning to CGI.

A basic sword-through-body kit is the following. Note that you would
have to disguise the belt, add a blood pack, and perhaps monkey with
filming speed to get the effect right.

eBay: Sword thru Waist

As an alternative to impalement, you can achieve a good hacking effect
with a fake machete that collapses sideways into the blade rather than
down toward the handle. I have seen this done on stage with a gaff
similar to the "Knife Thru Arm" device shown at the following address
(roughly in the middle of the page) and it does look very realistic.

Magic Legends: Halloween Magic

Hollywood professionals often use CGI nowadays for gory effects, but this
is typically an expensive undertaking that calls for heavy-duty software
and specially trained 3D animation artists. For example, impalement
effects in The Last Samurai were achieved with 3ds Max software.

    As Girard explains, two of the sequences involve Tom Cruise
    battling an army of warriors using a sword as his weapon, and one
    sequence involves a Samurai warrior throwing a lance. In all three
    sequences, the weapon had to be computer-generated. "For example,
    when the warrior throws the lance, he impales a soldier with it,"
    Girard says. "Plus, Tom is stabbing people and you can see the
    sword coming out their backs. Tom's fighting choreography in
    those scenes is very fast and close to the camera, and there's
    little chance a practical cheat would have worked."

Autodesk: Artists blaze through photorealistic CG effects with Autodesk
3ds max software in Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai

Autodesk: 3ds Max

I have found it interesting and challenging to work on your question. If
you have any concerns about the accuracy or completeness of my research,
please advise me through a Clarification Request and give me a chance
to fully meet your needs before you rate this answer.



Search strategy:

theatrical sword

retractable sword

sword swallow gaff

sword through flesh magic trick
Subject: Re: Sword Piercing Movie Effect
From: alanna-ga on 09 May 2006 10:41 PDT
Perhaps this page will help you out:

Or if you don't want to hire a special effects consultant, you can buy
"squirt blood"
Subject: Re: Sword Piercing Movie Effect
From: techtor-ga on 17 May 2006 23:07 PDT
If you notice the late Conan series starring Ralf Mueller, they use
the *very old* technique of bringing the sword to the side of the
person, just under the armpit. Very old, but the cheapest manner to

I believe the latest techniques use computer generation. It's
possibile someone uses a short stick or prop, and then the sword is
drawn later on, along with the blood, the wounds, severed parts, etc.

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