March 5, 2016 at 10:57PM, Edited March 5, 10:59PM


Making a Sword Stick in a Someone's Chest

I want to have a guy get stabbed through the heart with a sword and then have the sword stay in his body. How do I do make the blade stay in the guy's chest? I don't care if I do it practically or with VFX. I just need a way to make it stay there.


Probably the most cost effective way to execute this in a completely convincing way is to use a succession of three common techniques:

First have actor A use a sword to cut/break something (show the viewer it's real).

Cut on action to actor A now thrusting a sword with the outer half of the blade removed. Have him plunge the "invisible" part of the sword into actor B's chest. In post, you can do a very simple 2D track of the first half of the sword to attach a still image of the outer half of the sword to it (motion blur will make it easy to sell this effect). You then do a simple manual masking of where the synthetic blade is entering actor B's chest. Add to the wound one of the bazillions of available squib/blood spurt stock footage shots if need be. If the synthetic blade has lighting change on it over the course of the shot, then shoot multiple stills of the blade with the different lighting, then dissolve to the relevant lit versions in a precomp/etc of the element that is used for the synthetic blade.

As the blade is being thrust and still moving (but after the viewer sees it has already entered the chest, cut to a side angle and use ye olde "through the armpit" technique, and composite in another blood spurt stock element onto actor B's back.

Then after the stab/thrust is complete and the sword isn't moving anymore, find some cut on action to a frontal or rear angle and have the sword portion be attached to a simple chest or back plate actor B is wearing under their costume.

And lastly, one of the absolutely most important things to do is to have an outstanding sound effect.

I believe there are also retractable sfx prop swords.

March 7, 2016 at 4:35PM, Edited March 7, 4:38PM

Jaan Shenberger
designer/animator & live-action director/DP

How would attach the sword blade to a chest plate?

Josh Birman

March 7, 2016 at 10:26PM

@josh That's not really a filmmaking question, more a hardware question... it depends on what the components are made of. Take your partial sword prop and your chest plate to the hardware store and ask for advice. Best of luck.

Jaan Shenberger

March 8, 2016 at 4:57PM

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