How Can I Fling People Into the Air?
April 16, 2007 8:44 AM   Subscribe

How can I fling people into the air?

I need to take photographs of people suspended in midair. I need creative ideas, as well as suggestions as to how I might go about finding materials (springboards, trampolines, various other contraptions) in or around New York City. We're on a tight budget.

Photos will be taken indoors in our sixth-floor studio space, and we have gymnastics mats/mattresses to put down for safety's sake. We're not aiming for insane heights, but definitely higher than a person can jump on their own.

One idea that's come up is to get strong spotters to simply toss people up there (and catch them). Advice or instructions to make this work successfully are welcome.
posted by hermitosis to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Climb a ladder and jump off?
posted by Sassyfras at 8:46 AM on April 16, 2007

Can you suspend them by wires from the ceiling, and then edit the wires out in Photoshop?
posted by jozxyqk at 8:46 AM on April 16, 2007

Do you have $22 and a Walmart nearby?
posted by ND¢ at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2007

What about a bed? Seriously, my kids can clock some serious air jumping on the bed. I'm sure grown ups could be motivated to do the same.
posted by headspace at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2007

Depends on the pose you need, but trampolines do seem the sensible answer to me...?
posted by miss lynnster at 8:50 AM on April 16, 2007

Yea, trampolines are usually the way this sort of thing is done. As far as throwing and catching people, keep in mind that the people who do this sort of thing are trained (throwers and throwees both).

Dry-land diving practice trampoline set-ups are super cool - but you need a bigger trampoline, and you have to have a harness that you can attach to the jumper. When they jump, you have spotters pull on cords (one on either side of the jumper) to give him/her more air time. Of course you can see the cords, but you could get some fairly cool effects that way. You can probably improvise this fairly cheaply, and it's still cheaper than a full-go suspension rig, I'll bet.

Speaking of which-you may be able to rent a suspension rig fairly cheaply, but you may get a "flying" look, rather than a "jumping" look.
posted by Mister_A at 9:02 AM on April 16, 2007

Blanket toss?
posted by hydrophonic at 9:03 AM on April 16, 2007

I'm thinking trampoline as well. You could always inquire here too, or just marvel at the handiwork exhibited therein.

The other option is to some how rig a teeter totter. I used to get lots of hang time on the ones in the park, with a friend.
posted by cashman at 9:04 AM on April 16, 2007

How high is the ceiling? I think trampolines and mattresses are the way to go here. Jump off the trampoline and have enough of a padded landing surface such that one could safely land on their back.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:04 AM on April 16, 2007

It's not cheap, nor is it in NYC, but a vertical wind tunnel might do what you're looking for.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:05 AM on April 16, 2007

Those little exercise trampolines really give you hardly any bounce.

Could you pick a trampoline up at a big-box store, carefully repackage it and then return it the next day? It's shady, but might work.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:07 AM on April 16, 2007

Phillipe Halsman did a famous series of "celebrities jumping" and used a trampoline.

Here's a book that documents that series, which also ran in Life Magazine; the most famous is probably his shot of Marilyn Monroe which appeared on Life's cover.
posted by padraigin at 9:10 AM on April 16, 2007

Response by poster: The ceiling is high-- I think 16 feet.

These ideas are all worth bouncing (har har) off of my team. I'm intrigued by the teeter-totter idea, and wondering if one could be rigged safely out of affordable materials. I'm not sure whether we are allowed to screw into the floor.

If we disassembled a whole bed and moved it up to the 6th floor, how much of it is necessary? Just the mattress and box spring, or the frame and slats too?
posted by hermitosis at 9:13 AM on April 16, 2007

You mean like this?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:13 AM on April 16, 2007

padraigin, that's exactly what I was thinking of. The jumping portraits.

If only you were shooting acrobats, this would be much easier...
posted by miss lynnster at 9:16 AM on April 16, 2007

Hermitosis: "I'm intrigued by the teeter-totter idea."

Just make sure the people jump when it's time for them to go up. They can't just stand there and let it propel them, they have to bend at the knees and follow the motion upwards and they'll go a lot higher.
posted by cashman at 9:37 AM on April 16, 2007

I have to run so can't look it up, but there is a whole sub-sub mem about taking photos pf people flying in the air as a result of jumping on beds, if you have more time look(google) around for it and see if it is the result you want, it may have even shown up on MeFi proper.
posted by edgeways at 9:46 AM on April 16, 2007

I think you'd probably just need the mattress and box-spring. I'd definitely tie them together so the mattress can't slip on take-off, but using just those two pieces will give you extra clearance.
posted by headspace at 9:58 AM on April 16, 2007

I think edgeways is thinking of Bed Jump.
posted by goo at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2007

I would recommend playing with background, lighting, and orientation. I think it would be possible to have a white pedestal with lighting that made it indistinguishable from the background and have the people act like they were jumping rather than instead of jumping. Also you might rig a wall to look like a ceiling and the floor to look like a wall. Then photograph them parallel to but a foot off the (actual) floor and it will look like they jumped to the ceiling. (Beware of gravity tells like hair - or work with them - have a fan posed as if it blew the person to the point.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:27 AM on April 16, 2007

If you get some ballet dancers or even cheerleaders they could probably easily do what you want without any extra equipment. I've seen cheerleaders do some pretty impressive tosses and jumps. I'd hesitate putting an average person in a low-ceilinged room with a trampoline unless you have insurance.
posted by JJ86 at 11:00 AM on April 16, 2007

This may not be useful for your idea, but when I needed something similar for a series of drawings I did, I went to a climbing gym and waited to take pictures of people as they fell and after they fell. As they were being lowered I even talked a couple of them to do some specific poses for me.
posted by fair_game at 11:35 AM on April 16, 2007

From an incident that happened to someone I knew, I can tell you that amateur "have some strong guys toss them around" is probably a bad idea.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:18 PM on April 16, 2007

second wires.
posted by krautland at 2:07 PM on April 16, 2007

Depending upon your exact requirements, might you be able to use the foam pits at the gymnastics gym at Chelsea Piers? With some fast talking, you might even get them to let you do it for a credit on the final work.
posted by Jakey at 2:34 PM on April 16, 2007

So... how did the flinging go? I haven't read about it on Yahoo! Odd News so I'm guessing everybody survived.
posted by headspace at 8:59 AM on May 3, 2007

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