Grabbing an axe from mid air gag

Hey All,

Just wanted to reach out to see if anyone has a good reference for an axe throw shot where the talent grabs a spinning axe out of mid air and then turns and throws it.

Does anyone know of there I can find a reference or good break down?

Production is shooting various elements (axe on rig, clean plate, etc) and I’m trying to figure out how to match frame the catch.

thanks in advance for the input.

Thank Quinn for the reply. I should clarify. The talent “catches” the axe coming from screen left and then once caught turns to screen right and throws it all in one shot. So I need them to catch it off a rig and then turn and throw.

I’d go for a rubber prop.


Low budget way but should work:

Shoot plate A fella 1 throws axe. Shoot plate B fella 2 has axe in hand and mimes catching it then throws it. Shoot plate C fella 2 has no axe in hand and reaches up to grab axe.

Put a wipe down the middle between 2 plates and use C to clean out axe from B. Movement should be fast and blurry enough to hide a multitude of sins.


Just suggestion:
Shoot 2 parts of Your shot , catching part reverse, throwing part direct, and for transition between two parts (when talent just “catches axe” and when talent preparing to throw axe) use @talosh 's TimewarpML FluidMorph (make transition between 2 positions). Need to keep same position (put talent’s foots on markers) and speed of rotation of talent in frame - check that on-stage using plain fade on timeline - to get smooth transition between 2 parts.

However, remains main problem - talent need to make proper “catch axe” motion in reverse. could take many takes.

I agree with @johnt

@Hardave Should be easier to clean out the Axe he is holding until the catch moment.
Fake the flying axe and have a quick takeover.

1 Like

Hey @johnt or @PlaceYourBetts could either of you elaborate a bit more. I was leaning towards @uzer_name approach of reversing shot A to get a good line up and then shooting some clean hand textures incase I need to paint out the handle.

Are you both suggesting to fake the throw? and have a cut out/still frame of the axe and use and axis with motion blur and then just do a switch as the talent grips the axe handle?

Fake the axe spinning towards the talent. Motion blur is your friend but you could always shoot an element of the axe spinning so that the lighting is correct.

Have the talent conceal the axe as best they can and have them act out a mid air catch complete with realistic kickback in their hand. They are already holding the axe so paint it out where you can see it as they raise their catching arm.

From here it is all in camera. They just throw the axe back.

Similar to this example:

The last shot of the skateboarder. He had the slushy in his hand and I cleaned up the one in his hand and did a quick takeover.

1 Like

Love it. Thank @PlaceYourBetts!

Another suggestion -
assuming You have an fixed camera for that shot - You could hang up an axe on some extension from top on fishing line or something like that and position it carefully on place where talent should catch that axe. Main problem make fishing line breaks on small force applied from talent, so that line will breaks somewhere near axe. and shoot all scene and cleanplate, and retouch axe at start, and take 1st frame of axe and extend it animation to beginning of scene (move to start flying axe pos - out of frame and rotated 2-3 times around Z). So You will get rid of hand retouch/paint. and get max natural motion of talent

I like the rubber blade idea. But I spent a ton of time making a floppy rubber knife blade straight and it wasn’t that fun. I ended up tracking in a model of a blade as a guide, so it didn’t save much time, especially because I had to remove the rubber one on a bunch of frames.
You could have the actor do the gag with just the handle. At least his movement would be correct, and you wouldn’t have to remove a floppy rubber one.