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Weight of Gold in Movies

Gold in movies often looks fake, far too light weight. Real gold is very heavy, almost twice as heavy as lead. It's a density issue.

In films it's quite usual to see people handling gold bars, gold bricks, and ancient gold treasure artifacts, as if they are made of wood. That's probably because on the set they ARE made of wood. Even quite good actors are unable to pretend the movie prop is heavy enough, and when you know how much real gold weighs it is quite laughable to see the fake gold being wafted about. To the experienced eye the effect looks about as professional as when movie scenery was made of cardboard and you were just supposed not to notice it move when people stumbled into it.

You can't blame the actors for this, as they just don't have the mime artist skills to make the lightweight fake gold look convincing. It's not fair on them really, expecting a good theatrical performance while at the same time having to act around the cheap props.

Don't worry; I know that even a Hollywood blockbuster movie budget can't afford to use real GOLD, or at least not the insurance on it during all the scenes. However, there is a practical solution to this problem, a sensible compromise which won't cost too much and won't expect unnecessary extra acting! When making a movie featuring gold, make the fake gold movie props out of LEAD covered in gold-leaf. Although real gold is almost twice as heavy as lead, the lead is sufficiently heavy to be convincing, especially if the movie director says "act as if it weighs twice as much".

I have first-hand experience of the weight of gold, having lifted up a 20lb (9Kg) bar of gold which the Bank of England had on show. According to the security guard who was looking after the gold, I was one of the very few people who actually had the right idea about the weight of gold, and most people who'd tried lifting it had been astonished about how unbelievably heavy it was.

If you're making a movie and you can't afford real gold, use lead. Now I know what you're going to say: It's too heavy for the actors to lift. There is an answer to this, which is to down-size the artifact! I assure you that a truly heavy small artifact is much more impressive than something visually larger on screen. Audiences aren't fools, and can see the weight by body language. That's also how we know the moon landing video was real and not a fake. I can leap about as if I'm walking on the moon, but even in slow motion this doesn't look perfectly convincing. Momentum and gravity are key to this. The eye instinctively recognises it. If you wanted to make a fake moon shot video, the way to do it would be to use wires. That way, the astronauts would have the right mass and momentum, but would be much lighter weight because of the counterbalance weights. Then you'd spray out the wires. (At the time of the Apollo moon landings they didn't have the ability to spray out the wires).

As with many of these things, you don't have to take my word for it but can try it experimentally. Make various test movie clips using real gold, lead, wood, etc, with different levels of acting ability, and get a test audience to say what they think they see. To borrow a fortune in real gold for the day I'd try Absolute Solutions who may have the right kinds of insurance contacts. Having calibrated the field of convincing acceptability, the improved fake gold will look more convincing on screen. This is surely worthwhile, as the result will be true realistic movie making, and this will be impressive in the future even when present-day cgi is overtaken by successive technological advancements.