An air whip is a very cool and very effective way of creating whipping tentacles or tendrils, but I don’t know of any rental houses that carry them. I called a large effects house here in LA, but they didn’t carry them and didn’t know anyone who did. From what I gathered, they’re known for being bespoke. Built for the needs of the production and then discarded. The cost of the effects house building a device like this was somewhere in the order of hundreds of dollars per hour.
So, I decided to build my own.
What you do is use pressurized air and pass it through long latex or vinyl tubing. The high pressure causes the tubes to whip back and forth violently and unpredictably.
For my purposes, I designed mine to fit in a tub and modified it to accept latex tubing instead of vinyl. The latex is much softer and flexible which should allow for a much greater range of motion.
If all goes according to plan, I’ll be submerging this device in a full tub of blood soaked water. I’m counting on the 3/8” black tubing looking like thrashing tentacles.
I’ll conduct the test next week when I can borrow my friend’s air compressor. I dunno if 150 PSI will do the trick, but if it works, I think it will make for some very dramatic footage.
I’ll be sure to post the test footage and a brief how to video so you can create your own. It didn’t take too long to build and cost about $125 in supplies. Thankfully I can reuse it as often as I need.
The last image in this set is from John Carpenter’s The Thing. When the Thing is coming out of this character’s chest there is this brief shot of an air whip bringing the creature’s violent metamorphosis to life.
All in camera!
More to come.