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Are big-budget films going low budget with squibs?


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 12:27 AM

Okay, for all of us who can't afford the right people on our low budget projects,
and have been using sandwich bags with blood, squeezed open by the
actors, we've been using everything but squibs for a while.

I just watched "Die Hard 4" on DVD and I went frame by frame on several of the
bullet hits and it seemed that the blood came flying in, as if shot by a paintball gun
or some similar device. I've seen this apparent effect on other films. At regular speed
it works and looks right but on close inspection the blood is often flying in at the actor
for a frame or two before it apparently appears on his shirt as a result of being hit.


Does anybody have any info. about this? If it works visually and it's not too painful
(I understand that paintballs can really sting but maybe these are close range and much
lower powered) then is this something that is safer and easier than squibs?
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:09 AM

I don't know about paint balls, but effects guys regularly fire other kinds of projectiles like "zirc" pellets for sparks and dust pellets for hitting walls and such. There are some kinds of pellets (maybe the plain dust ones? I forget) that when fired at a car windshield make a pretty convincing "broken glass" pattern.
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:03 AM

I don't know about paint balls, but effects guys regularly fire other kinds of projectiles like "zirc" pellets for sparks and dust pellets for hitting walls and such. There are some kinds of pellets (maybe the plain dust ones? I forget) that when fired at a car windshield make a pretty convincing "broken glass" pattern.



Thanks Michael. Actually, I should rephrase my description because what I've seen is different from
paintballs although that's the word that came to mind.

It's as if somebody shot very quickly a short burst of liquid, so no container like a paintball or anything,
that flies in so fast it's not noticeable at regular speed or your mind ties it in to the gun shot when it
does notice the visible splash as the blood comes from the "wound".

In a way, that's kind of like when you see, and lots of episodic tv shows used to do this, a big explosion
that you know was set off before the two vehicles ever collided but it has a bigger visual impact that way.
That used to irritate me because it often was so fake, you could see the first flames before anything in
the collision ever touched.

In a couple of different films that I've checked bullet hits on frame by frame, I've definitely seen a grouping
of uncontained liquid, fairly close together like a glass of red wine that's just been spilled, flying in, usually
to a chest wound and within a close enough shot so that it travels only a couple of feet from the outside
of the frame to the target.

Maybe a revved up SuperSoaker?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:21 PM

Probably you are seeing compressed air guns firing balls filled with fake blood. If you ever wired an actor for squibs, you can understand the desire to avoid them whenever a simpler method is possible. It's very time-consuming, tedious, and limiting for the actor's movement. On the other hand, it happens exactly where you plan on it happening. Not that firing paintballs at actors without eye protection is all that safe either.
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#5 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 10:51 PM

Probably you are seeing compressed air guns firing balls filled with fake blood. If you ever wired an actor for squibs, you can understand the desire to avoid them whenever a simpler method is possible. It's very time-consuming, tedious, and limiting for the actor's movement. On the other hand, it happens exactly where you plan on it happening. Not that firing paintballs at actors without eye protection is all that safe either.



Thanks, David. I haven't used squibs but it makes sense that a quicker solution would be desirable.
I have to say that what I've seen really looks like a flying stream of liquid but maybe it's a paintball that
is so soft shelled that it starts collapsing after being fired and carries the liquid loosely and causes it to spread
slightly before impact.

If it's shot from close range, just off camera, that might make accuracy greater and the situation a bit safer
as far as not hitting an actor in the wrong place but on the other hand it would probably be coming in with more
force. I suppose that maybe somebody could gear a paintball gun to a lower projectile velocity but lowering that
would make the gag more apt to be noticed.

If I come across another really clear example of this, I'll see if I can post a screen grab.
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#6 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 03:10 PM

There are some kinds of pellets (maybe the plain dust ones? I forget) that when fired at a car windshield make a pretty convincing "broken glass" pattern.


It's usually Vasolene®.

I suppose a generic brand of petroleum would be okay.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 04:50 PM

I talked to the gun effects guy on a movie I did recently. He told me that his blood hits are actually harder shelled paintballs shot at quite high pressures compared to paintball markers.

I don't know if his method is typical (I'm guessing not), but his hits actually broke the shirt the actors was wearing consistently. He had to have his chest armored.
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#8 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 03:39 AM

I talked to the gun effects guy on a movie I did recently. He told me that his blood hits are actually harder shelled paintballs shot at quite high pressures compared to paintball markers.

I don't know if his method is typical (I'm guessing not), but his hits actually broke the shirt the actors was wearing consistently. He had to have his chest armored.


Yikes. I hope that he's a good shot.
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#9 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 03:43 AM

I don't know about paint balls, but effects guys regularly fire other kinds of projectiles like "zirc" pellets for sparks and dust pellets for hitting walls and such. There are some kinds of pellets (maybe the plain dust ones? I forget) that when fired at a car windshield make a pretty convincing "broken glass" pattern.


I've heard of the "zirc" pellets but have also heard that they shouldn't be used except by specail F/X or
armorer type people because they can be tricky.

When you say pellets, that makes me think of a typical pellet gun but those pellets are small and wouldn't
hold anything. Is there some kind of container pellet that can be shot from a paintball gun?
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#10 Chris Burke

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 04:51 PM

I talked to the gun effects guy on a movie I did recently. He told me that his blood hits are actually harder shelled paintballs shot at quite high pressures compared to paintball markers.

I don't know if his method is typical (I'm guessing not), but his hits actually broke the shirt the actors was wearing consistently. He had to have his chest armored.



I am an actor who has been both squibbed and had a paintball or what ever it is shot at me. I can honestly say that I prefer the squib. Paint balls can hurt like hell, even with padding, which has to be thin for wardrobe sake. In colder weather, paint balls don't always break, instead they break your skin, give you huge welts and bruises and could potentially do even more harm. Squibs can be dangerous as well, and I am sure they have just as many risks, but I just felt safer with them rather than something being shot at me. Just an actor's view

chris
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 09:36 PM

I am an actor who has been both squibbed and had a paintball or what ever it is shot at me. I can honestly say that I prefer the squib. Paint balls can hurt like hell, even with padding, which has to be thin for wardrobe sake. In colder weather, paint balls don't always break, instead they break your skin, give you huge welts and bruises and could potentially do even more harm. Squibs can be dangerous as well, and I am sure they have just as many risks, but I just felt safer with them rather than something being shot at me. Just an actor's view

chris


Just an actors view is quite valuable! I've only seen the effects from beside camera and have never seen the after effects or the preparation for them. At least squibs can be more meticulously controlled than paintballs. Anyone who has ever done any sort of sport shooting knows that there are always occasional "flyers." Bonody wants to be on the other side of that.
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#12 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 06:35 AM

It's usually Vasolene®.

I suppose a generic brand of petroleum would be okay.

Zirc's aren't vasoline. At least, they sure don't look like it. When they hit it's like a bullet hitting dirt. I think they're essentially a paintball filled with dust. Of course, I could be wrong, but I've been around them a lot and have never seen any vasoline like substance being used.
I think you're talking about something else.
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#13 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 03:16 PM

Zirc's aren't vasoline. At least, they sure don't look like it. When they hit it's like a bullet hitting dirt. I think they're essentially a paintball filled with dust. Of course, I could be wrong, but I've been around them a lot and have never seen any vasoline like substance being used.
I think you're talking about something else.


the vasolene is for the broken glass look. It splatters across the windshield in a pattern that sorta looks like cracked glass.
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#14 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 04:12 PM

I believe a zirc is a pellet of zirconium powder that sparks on impact. Not for firing at actors.
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#15 robert duke

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 07:14 PM

Yes but even zircs? and blood filled paintballs are expensive.
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#16 Bob Hayes

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 10:05 PM

In a couple of different films that I've checked bullet hits on frame by frame, I've definitely seen a grouping of uncontained liquid, fairly close together like a glass of red wine that's just been spilled, flying in, usually to a chest wound and within a close enough shot so that it travels only a couple of feet from the outside of the frame to the target. Maybe a revved up SuperSoaker?



I do quite a few films with gun play and we use all sorts of effects to achieve the effect of gun fire hitting people and objects. You can really learn a lot doing frame by frame on action sequences.

With regards to your first question about the blood my guess is you are seeing the blood from a blood pack shooting out of the shirt as a glob instead of a spray. The combination of the charge and the small pan that it sits in has turned the blood into a projectile like a bullet and it has shot through the hole in the shirt as a unit. It is so fast that it appears in only one frame maybe a foot from the actor and it is tough to determine which direction it is travelling. My guess is the frame before you will see a small explosion ripping the shirt. Because the blood pack was placed on top of the charge you will not see any smoke or flash from the squib. This is just a guess on my part based on the fact that the blood was a glob which is pretty hard to control at a distance of over two feet.

I say most of my action sequences break down thusly. I think it is probably indicative of most action films, even larger budgeted films; they just do more of it with more resets.

BODY HITS
50% planted body squibs with blood.
20% planted body squibs with dust
2% Body hit with Air Gun with Dust usually by accident
0% Body hit with Air Gun with Blood
28% Actor takes hit with no effect

SET DAMAGE
25% Squibs planted on the set with dust or small flying debris usually cork
10% Squibs planted in pre-drilled holes that are plastered and painted over or Squibs planted in objects like lamps
15% Air Gun with Zirc
50% Air Gun with Dust

WINDOW DAMAGE
80% Squibs planted on window to cause breakage. This shatters the window completely. This effect is also used to pre-break glass before a stuntman hits it.
18% Ball Bearing shot from a cannon or air gun through the glass. This creates bullet holes.
2% Air Gun with Vaseline when trying to place a spider web pattern on window you can?t really break because of budget or safety.

DIGITAL EFFECT
Over all I?d say about 5% of the effects are enhanced usually with tracer rounds and wire removal.
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#17 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 11:18 PM

I am an actor who has been both squibbed and had a paintball or what ever it is shot at me. I can honestly say that I prefer the squib.


I setup a shot where we had an actor shot back to front with a rifle I used a compressed air canister (small one for filling tires and the like) with a hose and a "duster" valve which was attached to a small poly hose I ran up the actors clothing. We rigged a rubber filled with red gloopy stuff and loosely taped it to the actors chest and placed a cut in his shirt where we wanted the blood to come from.

The first take was great because the rubber did not break and there was a big balloon filled with blood and guts on the guys chest. :P The second and third takes came out great with a big blob of blood flying out real horror show...

Not perfect but safer than squibs and paintball guns I think it's clothes and position dependent but looks great on film when it works right...


-Rob-
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#18 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 01:08 AM

I do quite a few films with gun play and we use all sorts of effects to achieve the effect of gun fire hitting people and objects. You can really learn a lot doing frame by frame on action sequences.

With regards to your first question about the blood my guess is you are seeing the blood from a blood pack shooting out of the shirt as a glob instead of a spray. The combination of the charge and the small pan that it sits in has turned the blood into a projectile like a bullet and it has shot through the hole in the shirt as a unit. It is so fast that it appears in only one frame maybe a foot from the actor and it is tough to determine which direction it is travelling. My guess is the frame before you will see a small explosion ripping the shirt. Because the blood pack was placed on top of the charge you will not see any smoke or flash from the squib. This is just a guess on my part based on the fact that the blood was a glob which is pretty hard to control at a distance of over two feet.

I say most of my action sequences break down thusly. I think it is probably indicative of most action films, even larger budgeted films; they just do more of it with more resets.

BODY HITS
50% planted body squibs with blood.
20% planted body squibs with dust
2% Body hit with Air Gun with Dust usually by accident
0% Body hit with Air Gun with Blood
28% Actor takes hit with no effect

SET DAMAGE
25% Squibs planted on the set with dust or small flying debris usually cork
10% Squibs planted in pre-drilled holes that are plastered and painted over or Squibs planted in objects like lamps
15% Air Gun with Zirc
50% Air Gun with Dust

WINDOW DAMAGE
80% Squibs planted on window to cause breakage. This shatters the window completely. This effect is also used to pre-break glass before a stuntman hits it.
18% Ball Bearing shot from a cannon or air gun through the glass. This creates bullet holes.
2% Air Gun with Vaseline when trying to place a spider web pattern on window you can?t really break because of budget or safety.

DIGITAL EFFECT
Over all I?d say about 5% of the effects are enhanced usually with tracer rounds and wire removal.



I think that that's a good guess that I'm seeing blood from a blood pack. It happens so fast that I see the
liquid in the air in a freeze frame but it is hard to tell in which direction it's traveling and it's in only a frame
or two before it covers say a shirt or whatever and it could move a bit between frames that you never see.

Also, nobody has chimed in with any accounts of the blood shooting squirt gun that I've been hypothesizing.

DVDs are great. I love going frame by frame to check stuff, although it can take a long time to watch a movie
that way.

What kind of air guns are used to to shoot ball bearings? I'd like to get one for bullet hits far from actors,
background stuff, like the classic bottles in the western saloon gag. I'm pretty sure that I can't get a cannon,
even though I don't know exactly what that is in this situation.

I'm familiar with air guns that fire pellets or bbs but ball bearings wouldn't fit in the air guns I know although
being able to shoot them would give that extra kick that a bb wouldn't have.
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#19 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 01:11 AM

I setup a shot where we had an actor shot back to front with a rifle I used a compressed air canister (small one for filling tires and the like) with a hose and a "duster" valve which was attached to a small poly hose I ran up the actors clothing. We rigged a rubber filled with red gloopy stuff and loosely taped it to the actors chest and placed a cut in his shirt where we wanted the blood to come from.

The first take was great because the rubber did not break and there was a big balloon filled with blood and guts on the guys chest. :P The second and third takes came out great with a big blob of blood flying out real horror show...

Not perfect but safer than squibs and paintball guns I think it's clothes and position dependent but looks great on film when it works right...


-Rob-


The air tanks that I know like that, the road service type, hold about 120 psi air. Is that enough to
do this gag? What's a "duster" valve? Sounds like a good gimmick if I can do it.
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#20 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 08:45 PM

The air tanks that I know like that, the road service type, hold about 120 psi air. Is that enough to
do this gag? What's a "duster" valve? Sounds like a good gimmick if I can do it.



I used a standard small air tank run up to 120psi it had a standard auto shop air hose attached and the 'duster valve" is just a simple attachment to the air hose that has a nozzle and a hand actuated switch valve. These are usually used to blow stuff out and they give good control over the amount of pressure you release.

I JB welded a barbed brass end onto the nozzle on the duster valve and attached a 1/4" poly hose to it which I clamped also. The poly hose was run to a rubber which we scored with a razor blade and taped back shut with scotch tape (you don't want tape that is too good scotch tape breaks away easily) we filled the rubber with nasty bloody gunk and taped it to the poly hose (with the hose submerged in the bloody goop) the hose was run up the actors clothing and the rubber was taped to his undershirt and a score was placed in his shirt.

I had to put this all together on the fly and did not have time to perfect it, I actually got the idea from some kids who shot a ww2 movie i did some work on. I got 3 shots out of the tank before I had to re pressurize it. All parts were bought at home depot.


-Rob-duster_valve.jpg
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