Can anyone think of a way to animate smashing glass? I've got a shot where something smashes through a window and it's quite important! However the only way I can think to do it is as post vfx - which is OK but I'd rather actually shoot it.

Cheers!
Marnik

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Rock candy.

http://www.brit.co/creepy-petit-fours/ Replace the actual glass with shards of the rock candy after drawing cracks spreading on the real glass with a white grease pen. When played back at speed, it will look like the glass shattered. To hold the sugar shards up, you can use a piece of stikki wax to attach them to a pane of glass that is carefully lit so as not to cast shadows or reflect lights on the set. You could also shoot the glass elements separately on green screen and composite them in.

Ah great idea Don. Cheers!

You can also use the clear-setting polyester resin to make panes of glass that shatter into harmless pieces. Might be of use.

I like Simon's idea!

Another thing, that I just now thought of, is gelatin. Gelatin can be used to make fake glass as well.  To make a harder version that doesn't wiggle when you move it, you would just use a smaller amount of water in the preparation.

http://www.ehow.com/how_8732668_make-hard-gelatin.html

A sheet of acrylic, clear styrene, or PETG would work well, too. Don's idea about the grease pen is great. I think you can get white sharpies, too. If the window was plastic, you could also score the sheet with an exacto knife to "draw" the cracks. Maybe even from the side opposite camera. If you make a template of the cracked pattern before hand, you could trace it for the animating cracks and precut the shards before hand to match perfectly. A jeweler's saw would work well for this.

I believe for the shattering mirror in Coraline, the shards were attached to aluminum wire and possibly fishing line, which was painted out in post.

McKinlay

Thanks for the ideas guys. I will be shooting it within the next 2 weeks so I'll get on to it now and let you know how it turns out!

Marnik

I'd really like to see some making of photography of that, if it isn't too much trouble :)
I only did a shot like this once, and I cheated by putting the glass in as a 3d computer animation, over the top. Up to the point where a puppet crashed through, it was a single object with a dirty glass image on it. At the moment of impact I replaced it with a dozen shards all fit together, and animated them flying out and spinning. I forget how many frames before they were all out of shot, between 6 and 12 I think. The same idea would work with pieces of clear plastic cut with a knife, supported on wires. Animate the pieces, then paint out the wires in TV Paint, Photshop, After Effects, or whatever program you use. If the wire goes behind the clear plastic, erasing it to reveal the background would be missing the glass over the top, but with the glass pieces flying fast across the screen, you could touch it up and no-one would pick it.
The other way, of shooting something really breaking as a live action element, would possibly look best if it could be shot at a higher frame rate to slow it down a bit.

The shot I was talking about is in this clip on Youtube, at 0:52 to 0:55.  Actually you barely see the glass shards in this lower res and compressed video, they were a bit more visible in the original broadcast.

The jumping rats were animated on armature wire which was painted out, so I figure the glass could be done the same way.  Sticky Wax would be good for holding the pieces of clear plastic to the wire, or a dab of hot glue.

If you are animating it rather than smashing it live, I don't see any need for any of those special FX breakaway glass materials.

I sometimes use the clear plastic in vacformed packaging to make windows.  I think I had a couple of sheets of 0.6mm plastic  when I made these windows - I just took the plastic out for this shot so I could put the cgi object in.  I used Lightwave 3d 5.6 to make and animate it.

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