‘Sherlock Holmes’ and the secret of those jaw-cracking punches

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Patrick Kevin Day talked to ‘Sherlock Holmes’ director of photography Philippe Rousselot about how they captured the detective’s eye-catching slo-mo body blows on film. You can read his previous Scene Stealer interviews and Liesl Bradner’s Wizards of Hollywood series right here.


Director Guy Ritchie’s updated ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is far more physical than past portrayals, but what’s really shocking is how brutal those punches look in slow motion. To capture the jaw-cracking and rippled skin of the fisticuffs, director of photography Philippe Rousselot shot the fights with a Phantom HD camera, which shoots in excess of 1,000 frames per second (as opposed to the normal 24 frames per second).

The results surprised even Rousselot, who says the punches weren’t enhanced at all in post. ‘The contact seems a lot more brutal on film than it is in truth,’ he says. ‘It surprised us how much contact the actors could perform without hurting themselves.’ The shots required 10 to 12 times the normal amount of lighting to match the rest of the movie.

-- Patrick Kevin Day


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