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Home-made video effects:
Knife throw to the head

Last updated 5-19-03

There’s nothing better for spicing up a home kung-fu movie than the knife throw. This special effect is easy to create and involves virtually no setup.

The first thing you'll need is a knife. Don’t use a real knife if you’re working with kids ... you'd be amazed at the trouble kids get into when sharp objects are flying through the air.

Establish the scene by filming alternating views of both your attacker and the victim. These establishing shots are important, because both characters won’t be on the screen together when the knife throw actually occurs. First show your attacker brandishing the knife and the victim running toward him in rage.

Now, clear a safe throwing area within your backyard. When everyone is safely out of the way, film a side-view of the attacker throwing the knife off the screen. Instruct your knife master to throw as hard and aggressively as possible … if you've cleared everyone out of the way, there won’t be any chance of hitting anyone.

After filming a good throw, bring the victim back onto the scene, and film a close up of him being struck by the knife. The easiest way to accomplish this is by having your victim hold the knife up to his head with one hand, as if the knife has just embedded itself. Use the hand farthest away from the camera so the knife can be seen in the shot. Then, while running the camera, instruct the wounded victim to jerk back as if hit by a hammer, then fall to the ground.

The trick to making this effect look realistic in your final movie is to edit the two clips very close together. Show the knife throw, and, immediately after the knife leaves the thrower’s hand, cut to the victim jerking back and falling to the ground. It also helps to add a sound effect (like the sound of a flying arrow hitting a target).

Next: The blocked knife throw
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