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Old February 17th, 2004, 02:55 PM   #1
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Location: Portland, OR
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WAAAY OT....DIY rain and snow

This isn't directly related to DV, but I'm looking for a good website or online forum like the special effects forum that might have information on building snow and rain equipment for low budget narrative projects.

Any ideas out there?
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Old February 18th, 2004, 04:28 PM   #2
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Location: Holland
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I think you can rent snow machines. I don't think that's easy to
build yourself. Rain could be done with a good garden hose and
a good nozzle I'd say, but beware of cold water and hygiene!
Hollywood movies use special warmed water that also gets
recycled and cleaned before going out to not get the actors sick.

Are you near a water supply or does it need to be a fully remote
system? I heard that a system you use to spray plants (you know
with the backpack and fine dispersion system) might be useful.
Ofcourse get a new one just for this then and not use one that
also is used for all kinds of chemical stuff!!

Or wait till it starts to rain... heh. If you only need to do tight
shots you might even be able to fake it in a shower with black
drapes hanging in the background? Or you could shoot some
wideshot with actual rain and then cut to a closeup of this method
if you need both.

Rob Lohman,
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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Old February 18th, 2004, 07:53 PM   #3
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We use snow effects on stage, and they can be done very inexpensively in a controlled environment like that. You can get artificial plastic snow from many stage suppliers. We've used the 1/2" flakes from BMI supply (go to , choose "catalog download" from the menu and download the PDF of the Special Effects catalog, it's on page 31).

On stage we use something called a "snow bag" which is very low tech. A long strip of fabric hangs in the flies running across the stage. Half of the fabric has a number of golf-ball sized holes cut through it. When this half of the frabric is higher than the level of the snow in the bag nothing can come out. However when you lower the perforated half the snow sifts through the holes and falls to the stage. By manipulating the fly lines you can shake a constant snowstorm out of the bag, much like using a salt shaker.

You could concoct something similar from an old bedsheet, or you could possibly just use an electric fan and toss handfulls of snow into the breeze. A 25 pound box lists for $54, and that's a LOT of snow. But be aware that this stuff makes a huge mess and requires lots of cleanup (shop vac's and leaf blowers can help). It would really be just about impossible to clean it up from an outside location I'd think.

On the same catalog page you'll also see a snow machine that uses fluid. I've heard these are good too, but expensive. The snow from these machines evaporates so there is no cleanup. You should be able to rent these from theatrical supply houses. Have not ever tried one myself though.
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Old February 18th, 2004, 09:32 PM   #4
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Thanks for the ideas guys. Rob, your point about cleaned recycled water is very good...I hadn't even thought of that. I'd like to find out how the rain system worked for "Identity" I know it was a big recycling system, but it doesn't sound like it was heated.

Boyd, do you know of "independent feature" priced exterior location snow systems? I don't know what time of year these shots will be done....possibly the dry cloudy part of late spring. Winter here in Portland is very rainy. And very cold. Too cold for the rainy shots.

Thanks again!
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