Arrow Hits in Live Footage

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  10 October 2012
Question Arrow Hits in Live Footage

Hi everyone,

Have a couple of questions about how I can do this as am unsure the best way to approach this, I have a couple of ideas but would like to hear what the best way to do this would be.

I am making a short film on a low budget, the story is set in ancient british times, featuring barbarians that are ambushed. What I need to have within this are some arrows hitting both ground, trees and people. Now if these are just simple 90 degree angle from the arrow, I could probably get away with compositing in a image of an arrow with motion blur, however I find this will make things look fake. So was wondering how I would get arrows hitting the surroundings in the live footage

I know how to track the camera (if its moving, I may have it locked off and use the wiggler), I know how to composite in footage, add blood effects. Mainly what I would like to know is this:

how would I have an arrow hitting someone from an angle? and going through them
how would I have an arrow hitting a tree form an angle?
having multiple arrows in 1 shot?
how would easy would it be to composite a blood stain from the hit using VFX rather than fake blood?
Would this have to be done in 3d program? if so how would this work? any tutorial links?

I have some ideas such as:
- have an arrow already stuck into the actor but masked out originally, and reveealed, using polysterene.
- animate an image of an arrow go though a person (motion blur, masking)
- orange dot on the actors jacket so can track that point to attach the arrow (unsure exactly how?)
- using 3ds max to composite this in (no idea how this would work in practise)

Any and all help appreciated, if anyone would be able to talk me through this on skype it would be most appreciated also! If you could PM me your skype address!


  10 October 2012

Ok, if you are using a locked off shot then a simple image could work, just move it through the shot, mask off bits to make it look like its sticking in, saves a bit on rendering on if they're all pictures. Making a fake arrow stuck in the actor and masking it back in is a lot of effort, use a fake arrow only for shots were the actor is on the ground dead, he's not moving so it wont fall off and the audience has a longer time to actually inspect the arrow, where as during flight the arrows are moving way to quickly. A simple VFX blood splatter (such as the blood splatters out of action essentials from video copilot) will look fine for the hits, sometimes takes a little adjusting to make it look perfect but yet again its so quick no one is paying much attention.

Blood stains, do this with real fake blood if you have that on hand, again looks more realistic. You'll probably find that your actors or scenery will have points on them you can track so no need for an orange dot on their jackets.

If your moving the camera, then images can still be useful depending on the kind of movement, if its just a pan at a 90 degree angle to the actors then simple arrow images will be fine like if its a locked off shot. If there's a little rotation around the actors, so the perspective of the arrow changes, you can try altering the scale of each end of the image, faking perspective effectively, or if your using after effects then try the 3D option (though I haven't used 3D in after effects for awhile so I'm not sure the actual techniques for that)

If its a little more complicated movement then track the footage and create fake geometry of the scene in your 3D program, create the arrows, animate there movements through the air and desired hit, render off the arrows and composite back onto the original footage. You can also use this for locked off shots, though an image with motion blur is a lot less time consuming. Don't use 3DS max for a compositing package, that's not its just job.

Hope some of that helps. Sorry its a little jumbled, just writing answers as I see the questions. If you want some more explanation on something, or more questions then feel free to PM me

  10 October 2012
Hi will,

Thank you for your reply! Very very helpful! I think the best thing for me to do now is shoot some test shots and have a go at getting the desired effect. I may well be pm'ing you for some advice!


  10 October 2012
Glad I could be some help. Yeah test shots are always a good idea, best of luck
  10 October 2012
Corridor digital just did this pretty well in their AC3 vid. BTS:
  10 October 2012
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