Special Effects: How To Make Objects Fly

Let's talk about special effects: how to make objects fly. I doubt that anyone reading this is George Lucas or James Cameron. For them, making objects fly on the silver screen is just a matter of dumping oodles of money into green screens and other expensive software and hardware. For the purposes of us average Joes out there who want to create the effect of objects flying, all we need to do is look to the past. Good old fishing line. With a little bit of ingenuity and a lot of fishing line, we can create some cool special effects of objects flying.

  1. Camera angles. The first thing you need to understand is that fishing line isn't completely invisible. In order to make the effect of an object flying look more realistic, you have to minimize the visibility of the line. This can be done simply by angling the camera towards lighter backgrounds. Anything that blends the fishing line in will help make it disappear.
  2. Don't bunch it together. Another trick to limiting the visibility of the fishing line is to keep it as thin as possible. In certain cases, you'll have to tie knots and things like that, but make sure you don't film it. Knots are harder to hide than a simple line. You want the appearance of an object flying and if the knots are visible then the magic is over.
  3. Hovering. To make an object hover, connect the fishing line in the center of the object. Angle the camera to minimize the sight of the line. Be sure that the line is tight. If it's loose it'll show up on the camera. The line also has to be long enough for you to have someone lift the object by pulling the line upward out of the viewpoint of the camera. Needless to say, making an object fly is more than a one man task.
  4. Flying from side to side. Attach the fishing line to both sides of the object that'll be flying. You'll need two other people to help you out with this. In order to make the object fly from side to side you'll need one person to lift one side with the fishing line and another to life the other side. These two need to be in sync with one another. If they both pull away at the same time your object will fall. So, when one is pulling the other has to stabilize their side while keeping the line tight to lessen its visibility. Also, make sure you position the camera in such a way to keep your helpers out of sight.
  5. Trickier stuff. If you can be creative, trickier set ups are possible. Take for instance, having your object fly at angles. There's a number of ways to manipulate the fishing line to achieve this. Attaching the line to the top center of your object and another to either side. Then all it takes is a little practice, a lot of patience and a multitude of takes to get the shot right. You'll have your object flying in no time. 
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