vfx Filming a hanging scene

Heidi Ho, friends!
I've got a scene in an upcoming film I'm working on where a character hangs themselves with their robe.
Now normally, this could be done with a safety harness under the clothes and a cable attached to that. Unfortunately, the character in the scene is naked when they hang themselves.
So, I am stumped about how to do this practically and am turning to you guys for either an incredibly clever solution I haven't thought of, or advice on the best way to do this with VFX. I have a VFX crew for several other shots in the film, so it's not out of the question to paint out cables and harnesses, but the less I can do that, the better by far.
Thanks in advance for your help.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
It might not be the imagery you’re looking for but when people hang themselves they often don’t get airborn.
Take Robin Williams for example. He was sitting down in a chair when he hung himself. It just takes the neck pressure of cutting blood off to your brain. But maybe not as haunting of an image.. it’s better than a complicated vfx setup imo.
If you’re dead set on getting a naked person to swing from the neck there is no solution but wires or vfx. Very thin wires like a magician would use to fly, with some skin tone strips of leather or something between the thighs and under the armpit for weight distribution
 
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A wire rigging is the way to go, but I suggest that you leave it to professional stunt people. Working with wires can be extremely dangerous if not done properly. Full body weight on a bare wire can cut to the bone. And there is also the problem of where to anchor the harness without the ceiling collapsing. I would suggest that you fake the effect with camera angles and editing. One shot of the actor putting the noose around his neck, cut to a separate shot of the feet leaving the stool. This technique works well, and is done all the time.
 
We did this a few years back. My biggest advice - don't have a noose around the neck. Loop the rope once, tie it in the back. Then using thread or magnents, attach the loop to the "hanging rope", which will have the noose knot. This way if ANYTHING happens, your actor won't get hurt
 
We did this a few years back. My biggest advice - don't have a noose around the neck. Loop the rope once, tie it in the back. Then using thread or magnents, attach the loop to the "hanging rope", which will have the noose knot. This way if ANYTHING happens, your actor won't get hurt
That's great advice. Obviously, my main concern is the actor's safety during the scene. I hadn't thought of magnets before.
 
You could simply use correct camera angles that tell us the character has hung himself/herself. A shot of the noose around their neck. A shot of the lower torso hanging... Maybe even slightly turning on the robe. Other characters' reaction to the hanging corpse. I would personally find that more satisfying anyway. Give me JUST enough VISUAL INFORMATION to allow me to FORM the visual in my head that I WANT TO SEE.

Take RESERVOIR DOGS for instance... The ear cutting scene. We never ACTUALLY see Mr. White cut the ear off... We see what looks like him beginning. We see him speaking into the ear afterward.

BUT WE GET THE IDEA and we create that horrific visual in our own minds.
 
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indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
It can be done VERY effectively without showing it and sound. Question. Is anyone around when this happens? Like in the other room, on the other side of the door, etc? Because you could film the setup (him tying it around his neck and getting on a chair or stool) and CUT TO: People in the other room and we hear the chair being kicked out and falling over and they run to the room to see CUT TO: The lower body swaying back and forth and quickly CUT TO: Their reactions. Etc!
 
A couple of ways that I'm thinking of. One way is to have the actor/actress stand on their toes, atop a green box. You key out the box.

The other is to have two shots of the actor; the first being the top half of their body, which they would be standing on a riser of some sort, to get the elevation. The actor would have to stand in a way (slight bend in the knee, etc.) that looks loose and dangly. The second shot would be the hanging legs or feet. For that you actually have the actor hang, via their hands on a bar, etc. You shoot the dangling feet and comp them over the first shot. combine the two.

EDIT: i was just watching AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, where David Keith was hanging, naked, in his shower. You reminded me of it.
 
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One more possibility: You lay a greenscreen on the floor. You have the actor lay on the greenscreen and film them from above. You can use the robe, the beam, everything in this shot. You comp it into the room and adjust the perspective vertically.

If your actor has short hair, this could work nicely. Long hair, you would have to simulate a gravitated downward look.

Additionally, this green floor could be a green wall. You could angle the surface 45 degrees or more, so that the body is more gravitated down. The camera would need to be parallel to the angle of the surface the actor is laying on.
 
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One more possibility: You lay a greenscreen on the floor. You have the actor lay on the greenscreen and film them from above. You can use the robe, the beam, everything in this shot. You comp it into the room and adjust the perspective vertically.

If your actor has short hair, this could work nicely. Long hair, you would have to simulate a gravitated downward look.

Additionally, this green floor could be a green wall. You could angle the surface 45 degrees or more, so that the body is more gravitated down. The camera would need to be parallel to the angle of the surface the actor is laying on.
That's a crazy good idea. Of all the non practical suggestions, this is one of the best.
 
A couple of ways that I'm thinking of. One way is to have the actor/actress stand on their toes, atop a green box. You key out the box.

The other is to have two shots of the actor; the first being the top half of their body, which they would be standing on a riser of some sort, to get the elevation. The actor would have to stand in a way (slight bend in the knee, etc.) that looks loose and dangly. The second shot would be the hanging legs or feet. For that you actually have the actor hang, via their hands on a bar, etc. You shoot the dangling feet and comp them over the first shot. combine the two.

EDIT: i was just watching AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, where David Keith was hanging, naked, in his shower. You reminded me of it.
The keyed out box could work well. It could take some work to make it look like they're swinging, but it could work.

I just watched that scene. I can't for the life of me figure out how they did that. Any ideas?
 
I just watched that scene. I can't for the life of me figure out how they did that. Any ideas?

It wasn't in full view. Going from memory, his back was to the camera. I think his right side was covered by the shower divider. He could have been using his right foot to support himself and just had to be dragged off the support by Richard Gere. I'll try and catch another showing.
 
One more. Two hanging loops. The actor sticks one arm through each loop. The arms will just hang down. The loops will support his underarms. You will have to clone his skin to paint those loops out. As with all of these suggestions, you'll need a clean plate shot of the background.
 
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