May 20, 2014

Tips on How to Shoot a Killer Fight Scene

Fight SceneShooting a high octane, action-packed fight scene can really have an impact on your audience, but really only if it looks realistic and -- well -- truly painful. Tuts+ offers some excellent tips and tricks on how to achieve a believable brawl between your characters, including which lenses to use, tried and true blocking and choreography, as well as an editing trick that will speed up your strikes, making them more impactful. Check out the video after the jump.

There are many different tricks and techniques, whether they're captured during shooting or in post, that will help you make you fight scenes look more believable. In fact, several months ago we shared some excellent tips from Vashi Nedomansky of Vashi Visuals on how to make your general action sequences more exciting, but this tutorial from Tuts+ focuses specifically on fight scenes.

As you'll see in the video below, there are several things you might want to consider as you gear up for your shoot. Tuts+ suggests using a zoom lens (a 135mm is used in the tutorial), which will not only give you the ability to quickly change your focal length, but will reduce the depth of your shots so you can pull of the illusion that your characters are closer than they really are, a trick known as the "long lens stunt." The tutorial also teaches you how to pull off techniques like the "hero punch," the "knock down," and "cutting for impact," all of which will not only help make your fights look realistic, but will also pump energy into your scene.

Check out the tutorial below:

Are you shooting a fight scene for your project? Are you going to employ one (or all) of these techniques from the tutorial? What other techniques do you use to help make fight scenes look realistic? Let us know below!

[via Tuts+ Photo & Video]

Your Comment

30 Comments

Cool. Thanks. I'll try some of this for fun.

May 20, 2014 at 10:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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brutal

May 20, 2014 at 10:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Henry

This is my first "Fight Movie" and working with some geek-manga-guy really help it!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbN-izVghmo

Follow Ninja Masuku on facebook for more info and Ninja Masuku III is on post-production, so keep yourself up to date!

Thanks =)

May 20, 2014 at 10:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nice job! You don't really see enough of that kind of fight choreography these days.

May 20, 2014 at 11:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Coty

I want an action tutorial from this guy ^^^

May 21, 2014 at 12:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nate

+1

May 21, 2014 at 1:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Coty

Amazing choreography and well directed! Très beau travail ;-)

May 21, 2014 at 7:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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So awesome that you had people who really knew how to fight. Really awesome work all around.

May 21, 2014 at 11:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That reaction was a bit lame and the puncher didn't turn his hips into the punch at all! Also you didn't cut any frames off the impact and the end result can be construed as = LAME PUNCH!

Come on guys!

Here's mine (also featuring a killer script)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfxr7Du8gqk

May 21, 2014 at 4:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mikko Löppönen

Great fun, well executed !!

May 21, 2014 at 7:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Aaron

Awesome work!!
have you done the pov of the arm in slow motion or did you just slowed it in post?

July 21, 2016 at 5:52AM

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avatar
Nico Saiger
Indie Filmproducer
232

You want to learn how to create a killer fight scenee? Then go watch "Raid"!!! those guys are amazing. This tutorial shows some basic stuff but it's only a tip of an icebarg what you can do.

May 21, 2014 at 5:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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johny

Well yeah, but that's like top level stuff.

May 21, 2014 at 4:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Muh

Yes, and no. The way in which The Raid was captured is within the means of most filmmakers---fig rigs and AF100's. There are no real tricks to good action...it's all choreography and timing and many many takes. It's putting the camera in the extract right spot...not too far away, and not too close. It amazes me how few people understand this--especially when people add tricks like cutting frames, being extra shaky, using a 45° shutter, circling the camera around for no narrative reason....

May 31, 2014 at 5:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

...oh, and lots of cuts and lots of angles and lots and lots of cuts. Most Western filmmakers (Gareth Evans aside) don't know what they want when they film it...the fight shouldn't get discovered in the editing, but at the time of shooting (for safety, there are lots of times you *have* to cut), but most Hollywood style action relies on coverage and cutting instead of being at the right place at the right moment.

May 31, 2014 at 5:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

God, when is nfs reboot gonna happen? I really want to be able to edit my manyy menny tyypos.

May 31, 2014 at 6:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

This is a short we put together for a contest several years ago.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XI0e1C-0u4?list=UU9IrpT_Q_nU9I2WM8SvS4Yw...

May 21, 2014 at 9:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jason

Good camera tips- but the #1 way to get the best fight scene possible is to hire qualified stunt and fight choreographers from organizations like the SAFD, BASSC and others. Can't afford it? How does a lawsuit or medical bills fit into the budget? If anything, the Sarah Jones tragedy should teach ALL of us the value of safety and taking care of our cast and crew.

May 21, 2014 at 10:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Allen Johnson

I've been using these Techniques for a while now... Had to learn them for my first shortfilm.
These are all really helpful hints!!! I'd just recommend using a shoulder rig and moving the camera a bit more.

You can check out some of these techniques being put to practice in the teaser for my second short film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBO7gCc7jwM

May 21, 2014 at 12:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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My favorite fight scene of last 10 years..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3N6PY8IvPo

May 21, 2014 at 12:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Archie

Really? It's sort of okay, but kind of boring.

May 21, 2014 at 4:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Muh

Agreed. Fast, brutal, brilliant, and executed by two very talented men at the top of their games. The pacing: perfect. And that baseball bat catch! Glorious.

May 22, 2014 at 11:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Great tips. Here is a funny fight scene.

https://vimeo.com/92584128

May 21, 2014 at 1:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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EditEddie

It's very irresponsible to post these types of tutorials. Fight scenes should only be done with professionals on set, if they have to be done with actors they should be professional fight choreographer and coordinator. Trust me, one missed elbow or knee could easily take out someone's teeth.

May 22, 2014 at 12:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pietro

sorry i meant "there should be"

May 22, 2014 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pietro

Aside from the good information presented in the video, something I liked was that it wasn't 40 to 60% buffoonery like in the videos from someone whose initials are RC.

Good work Vashi!

May 22, 2014 at 9:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Here's a web-mercial I made for a local dojo a year ago. Feedback is more than welcome
[vimeo 59120499 w=425 h=239]

May 28, 2014 at 1:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob

Woops, that didn't work right: http://vimeo.com/59120499

May 28, 2014 at 1:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob

What about shooting at 22fps?
Shouldn't this (together with using professionals) help do the trick?
What you guys think?

July 16, 2014 at 6:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Massimo

Massimo:

When I saw this at first, a slower frame rate was also the first thing that came to my mind. That makes more sense.

July 17, 2014 at 5:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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EVERETTE C. NICOLLS