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Bullet Holes In A Brick Wall

Published : 2nd November 2009


I have a gunfight shoot coming up with drywall walls and brick walls and I need to rig gunshots hitting both. I am using compressed air with solenoids for the drywall which I like because there is no pyro involved and makes the actors more comfortable. However I need to have gunshots hit the brick walls as well and there is no way to rig air tubing through the brick.


I was thinking of drilling holes in the brick for each gunshot and filling them with dust but I don't know about a detonator to push the dust out, i.e. electrical. I do have a bit of experience with military grade devices and safe handling procedures via a old friend who is us army sf and I always take care to rig these types of things for safety first.


Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
VP Cinelab Inc.



Hi Rob,


You could use paintballs filled with dust... they look great and are safe. Just have someone who's a pretty good shot use a paintball gun and hit the wall and miss your actor. It'll look like the brick is chipping off. The dust bullets are a little pricey, but probably cheaper than squibs and drilling holes in your wall.

Usually this is left to an FX crew, and they usually have someone who's a pretty good shot at this and looking out for safety stuff. You have to be careful about hurting your actor, crew, or getting dust in their eyes. This is often helped by having a good camera angle that allows the actor\stuntman to not be as close to the gun hits as it may appear.


Best,


Graham Futeras



>> I do have a bit of experience with military grade devices and safe handling procedures via a old friend >>who is us army sf and I always take care to rig these types of things for safety first.


No offense, but that makes me really nervous.


If you said you learned about the safe handling of munitions from a visual effects veteran then I'd feel better, because he or she have been trained to handle explosives or paintballs safely and use them safely, while the military is trained to handle them safely but use them to do the most damage possible. At least VFX people are supposed to know how to get the maximum effect while keeping everyone safe.
(Which is why they always seem to be missing at least two fingers.)


"A bit of experience" isn't enough, you really should get someone who's done this before to help you out. It'll look better in the long run anyway.
--------------
Art Adams | dp
san José | ca | usa
www.artadams.net
art.provideocoalition.com
415.760.5167



>> No offense, but that makes me really nervous.
>> If you said you learned about the safe handling of munitions from a visual effects veteran then I'd feel >>better


No offense taken Art this is why I don't really want to use any pyro devices on this unfortunately I am about the closest thing this production has to someone who is a pyro/vfx expert. I only took the gig because I know some of the people involved and I don't want them to do something stupid which would hurt someone.


Also my bit of experience is not with a novice but a very high end operator in the military and that bit taught me enough to know that any explosives scare the shit out of me which was probably the best thing anyone can learn about them.


Graham I like the paintball solution the location is a old mill building which I will light contrasty and it has allot of potential to obscure things I will Google dust paintballs are they commercially available?


Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
VP Cinelab Inc.



Get an FX guy. Get an FX guy. Get an FX guy.


I'm all for D.I.Y. but at what point are you harming the shot, and potentially someone else? Certainly you are taking away from the time you have to D.P. the film.


As far as an old friend, well way back in college in my reckless youth, one of the students wanted to do car crashes and blowing up. With the car crashes - strategic editing helped, but blowing up the cars. We’ll see he had a friend who studied munitions in the military. The bought a $50 car, filled gas tank with gas, wrapped primer cord around the car (I'm not sure how they planned to trigger the primer cord, the "Expert" wasn't sure.) Then he dumped a chemical concoction in a ping pong ball into the gas tank, and we (The imbeciles that we film students were) began rolling the 5 or 6 cameras.


Now the chemical concoction (not saying what it was because I don't need someone reading it and going "WOW what a great idea"), was supposed to set off the gasoline in the gas tank, or so thought the "expert" - who wasn't. At least he said it would, but during demolition practice in the military they always just blew up the car. 10 minutes later and were loaded and someone gets the bright idea to douse the car with gasoline and light it up.


Thankfully no one actually lit the car on fire. I don't like to think about that day, because we could all have been killed or horribly maimed, sadly the director had an "expert" who not only didn't know what they were doing, but didn't have the knowledge, authority or courage to step up and stop others from doing even more stupid things.


Please note later in my career I did leave set taking the crew with me (after showing the director how to turn the camera on and off) for a lock off gunshot (with no actors), when due to time constraints he was taking short cuts with safety. No one got hurt, and it soured our relationship, but I've no regrets.


Granted you are not talking about using real guns, but do you really want to be spending your time and effort figuring out and operating bullet hits. Get someone on set who can be responsible for the gag, and doesn't have to split their attention. Someone who will make the call if it is safe or not and isn't calculating exposure or worrying about lighting and composition. Especially if there are going to be actors near.


Steven Gladstone
New York Based Cinematographer
Gladstone films
http://www.gladstonefilms.com
917-886-5858



Is any CGI out of the question? It's a very simple vfx.


Franz Pagot?AIC MBKS
Director of Photography/Underwater BAFTA
http://www.franzpagot.com
mob UK +447770520757
mob ITALY +393409344107
London based
skype: acquademon



Hi Rob,


Not sure about your neck of the woods, but here in LA there are many options I suppose.
I see Roger George has a Sweeney gun and the balls filled with dust, marbles, or zircs (makes a nice spark when it hits) :


http://www.rogergeorge.com/rentals/items/rfsweg/


Happy hunting
Be safe,


Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com



>> Get an FX guy. Get an FX guy. Get an FX guy. I'm all for D.I.Y. but at what point are you harming the >>shot, and potentially someone else?
>> Certainly you are taking away from the time you have to D.P. the film. Granted you are not talking >>about using real guns

I am not the general DP on this I am just coming in for this one day shoot and they will not get a FX guy. The "producer" wanted to use real guns with live blanks which I am steering them away from. Compressed air and paintballs is obviously where they should go.


I have handled live explosives and I have handled many firearms such as a browning belt fed .50 and even a GE Mini-Gun (fun with the mini gun and a junk car nothing like it!) Guns scare me, explosives scare me even more.


I know several people acting in this indie (HVX-200) and I don't want to see them hurt because of someone's carelessness or cavalier attitude towards deadly weapons. This is why I accepted the gig to try to mitigate the danger which could have happened if I were not there.


Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
VP Cinelab Inc.



>> Is any CGI out of the question? It's a very simple vfx.
> >Franz


I am trying to get them to do CGI muzzle flashes to eliminate blanks on set I think the bullet hits on the walls will be better and easier practical.


Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
VP Cinelab Inc.



>I am trying to get them to do CGI muzzle flashes


Then check out this website :


http://www.DetFilmsHD.com/Collections_Overview.html


Their Gun Stuff CD might be good. They have all kinds of cool FX on there, and some things for free or dirt cheap.


There's also a great tutorial on how to easily composite these things in FCP or After Effects. Check out their companion site here for tutorials :

http://www.detonationfilms.com/NEWSITE/tips.html


Their web site seems to be a mess and tricky to find things, but lots of fun for the low-budget action filmmaker. Also, check out their CG police lightbars that will let you turn any car into a cop car.


Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com



Although your intentions are honorable I feel it might be better to try to persuade them to get an fx person in for the day. As for blanks on set also very dangerous (remember what happened to Brandon Lee).
There is a reason why there are armourers and fx guys- because it's dangerous.
And if it all goes wrong for you...


Even with money and a good, experienced crew mistakes happen. I was recently on a job with a very good crew including a highly experienced first. I was on a ladderpod shooting a troop of policemen charging up a fire escape. The director wanted to get the lead in to the shot which was the policemen jumping out of their van. It was decided that they would drive the van into position before jumping out.
I looked down just before we turned over to realise there was an extra about to drive a van right at our ladderpod and supposed to stop about eight feet from the base...


If that had gone wrong... and that was with a good experienced crew and a proper budget... People get tired and the sun is going down- before you know it corners are getting cut....


Anyway. I would strongly argue in favour of getting a qualified person out.


Ruairi O'Brien,
DP
Ireland
www.ruairiobrien.com


>> Just have someone who's a pretty good shot use a paintball gun and hit the wall and miss your actor. >>It'll look like the brick is chipping off.


Sorry, but I'm not familiar with how hard these dust balls are. But I think it's best to shoot at a 90 degree angle (straight on) to the wall to minimize the bouncing/glancing the balls off at an angle and hitting somebody. This happened on a shoot I was operating on with the shooter (professional fx guy) at around 75 degrees off the wall. Almost took off an eyeball of the DP! Gave him a nasty bruise on the forehead. Best to test your firing angle a few times and lock it down.

Please be careful.


Picha Srisansanee
DP, Bangkok, Thailand



>> I was thinking of drilling holes in the brick for each gunshot and filling them with dust but I don't >>know about a detonator to push the dust out, i.e. electrical.


A good way to do dust hits on difficult-to-rig surfaces is with dust pellets from a paintball gun ADMINISTERED BY A PROFESSIONAL FX PERSON.


Fast, cheap, instantly repeatable; and you can change position of the hits on each take just by where you aim the gun/ the position of the FX shooter. They look great, fairly safe for the actor. If you rake the surface with some light, they'll look even better. Only downside, is if you NEED to see actual holes in the wall in real-time during the gag, the above method won't do that. But if the actor is running, dodging and there will be dust covering the small holes that would appear, it really sells. If you need to see holes after-the-fact-- like the person dives/ hides in the same wall location as the shots were, you drill the holes after-the-fact, cut and pick up the shot with some dust; and as it settles, you see holes.


Jacques Haitkin DP
San Francisco



>> Just have someone who's a pretty good shot


Rob,


This is pure bull shit.


Either hire a special effects guy to perform the physical effect or a visual effect guy to perform it in post and be done with it. Remember your production insurance will go thru the roof if you don't be smart about this. If you don't have the budget to do it safely and right, change the shot.

Tom Barkstedt
Director/DP
Asheville, NC



Robert Houllahan wrote :


>>I know several people acting in this indie (HVX-200) and I don't want to see them hurt because of >>someone's carelessness or cavalier attitude towards deadly weapons. This is why I accepted the gig >>to try to mitigate the danger which could have happened if I were not there.


Been there, know what you are going through.
Be careful, and I second Graham's paint/dustball recommendation. I've seen it used to great effect. I would not like to be the one shooting it, or being shot at.


Good luck.


Steven Gladstone
New York Based Cinematographer
Gladstone films



>>Been there, know what you are going through.
>>Be careful, and I second Graham's paint/dustball recommendation.


I like the paintball setup that is what I am going to go for maybe in a film of my own where I had more control I would or have gone for more complex and riskier setups but I do not have control of this one and I am looking for the safest setup.
Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
VP Cinelab Inc.



>> I would not like to be the one shooting it, or being shot at.


I remember on Firestarter (in the old Dino De Laurentiis stages in Wilmington, NC), our effects supervisor had to shoot George C. Scott right between the eyes with a blood shot for his death sequence. Nice close up framing, so the effects man could get the barrel of his pneumatic rifle a couple of feet in front of George's face.


After many, many rehearsals, we rolled multiple camera's. George went through his scene and dialog, the effects man lowered the gun, took aim and pow, George died like a real pro. One take, one shot, moving on... I thought "holy cow, how can you concentrate and pull a scene like that off knowing your gonna take one in the forehead at the end if it".


Soon after that film had wrapped, we found out that Michael Mann had not liked the squib hits his effects men had used to simulate a shotgun blast in a wall, so he went out to his car, pulled out his own shotgun, came back onto the stage and blew a couple of holes in the set, stage and production office next door. Luckily, no one was in the path of the shot. I understand the effects crew walked off the job that night.


The point being, there are a few right ways to do these things that we do, and a shitload of wrong ways to do them. You do not want to get caught on the wrong side of that equation. Do it the right way or don't do it at all.


Sincerely,


John Sheeren
DP/Op/AC
Cine/Digi/HD/SD
610 East 9th Street
Houston, Texas 77007
(H) 713-863-7570
(C) 713-385-7595
(F) 713-863-7578
www.imdb.com/name/nm0790707/
Think Globally, Hire Locally



You could shoot some actual bullets into actual bricks and film it with the Millisecond camera. 12,000 fps on 35mm 4 perf. It's the camera that was used for the bullet shots in Face/Off, Bad Boys 2, etc.


Let me know if you want to know more.


Nathan Nebeker
www.mscine.com



Don’t fire anything near anyone ever. Except a strobe or a flash.


Dan Bronks
DP
UK