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-   -   How to create realistic rain? (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/techniques-independent-production/142935-how-create-realistic-rain.html)

Nicholas de Kock February 2nd, 2009 08:23 PM

How to create realistic rain?
I have a scene of a man running in a street during a rain storm, how would I be realistically be able to recreate a rain storm on a no budget production? Does the fire department approach work at all?

Nic MacDonald February 6th, 2009 06:19 AM

I'm not sure what the 'fire department approach' entails, but personally I'd just shoot outside a friend's house or somewhere else you can borrow a hose. I'm also assuming it's literally just a scene where the actor is running in the rain, which sounds quite brief. If there's a lot of action or dialogue in the scene, I'd rewrite it, maybe move it to an interior if it's important that it's raining; that way you just need the sound.

You won't be able to shoot wide angles of a rainy street without a large crew to make the rain cover the whole thing. Just create the 'rain' in small areas by spraying the hose upwards above whatever you're shooting, and instead of a wide angle create a mosaic of tighter shots; a puddle rippling, rain running down a parked car's windscreen, etc.

Do the shot of your actor on a long lens, keeping the amount of the street you can see in the b.g. of the shot as minimal as possible (ideally the actor could run along the side of a wall or similar backdrop). Wet down all visible road/pavement surfaces so they'll kick off the light properly. The long lens will throw the b.g. out of focus so we won't be able to see that the rain doesn't extend too far. Lock the shot off and just allow the actor to run through it in MS, moving into focus in the spot that the rain is being created.

Obviously you don't want to shoot this on a sunny day, no matter how good you are at grading. Shoot on a cloudy day, and ensure the rain is backlit so it'll show up better. (Even if the sun's not visible, natural light is still slightly directional. Don't shoot at midday when the sun is directly overhead; a toplight won't help the effect.)

Once you do a bit of grading in post to make the footage a bit darker and greyer and add the sound effect of the rain, your little mosaic should be quite convincing if done right.

Edward Phillips February 6th, 2009 10:13 AM

As I learned, you don't see rain on video, you see the light instead. Lots of movies show rain at night because then you can use practial artifical lights like headlights and streelights that help make the rain standout from the dark night. Daylight is harder to do I think. Make puddles so that the rain drops have lots of splash to them and audio is going to be the big convincer of the scene as well so work on the sound fx. Follow the adive of not using wide shots and try to remain close on your subject. If practicle to the story have your subject wear a hat or something that would help the rain bounce off them to highten the effect. You pretty much have to have a cloudy day for realism as well.

James Lombardo February 6th, 2009 11:33 AM

Add milk or something white to the water... just a little.
This is what the pros do.

Aric Mannion February 6th, 2009 01:47 PM

There must be some type of grid or something that is used for the water to fall through, do they really just use a hose? (not that that wouldn't work by itself)

Alex Humphrey February 6th, 2009 02:59 PM

think big drops from overhead sprinklers. Yes, lighting is key. I've seen what looked like large shower heads attached in rows to plumbing pipes of sorts in a grid pattern about 30 feet above the actors. I don't know if they used any additive, but it's likely.

I never tried to make rain, we often filmed durring rain and only a few people ever noticed it was actually really raining in the final cut. About 5 minutes of final footage in Titanic was shot in the rain. If you look carefully you can see it. No one at the theater noticed it in 8 showings I went to.

Honestly i would try to stage the scene to add sound later and have the actors next to a window and having the "Rain" hitting the window or something that they are next to. Some water splashing barely in camera frame and the sound added later in post will get the point across better than a huge production with rigging, water jets and showeer heads. Even Singing in the Rain, didn't look all that convincing, and they had a big budget.

Brian Drysdale February 6th, 2009 06:14 PM

Rain doesn't tend to show up that well, so to make it register you need a lot of it and you need to back light it.

You could approach your fire department to see if they can help. On a short I worked on they supplied some hoses and the piping for the fire hydrants. We used a 4k HMI for back light and the "rain" more or less registered, it certainly bounced off the pavement. The actors got soaked and were freezing.

Nicholas de Kock February 7th, 2009 05:45 PM

Thanks for all the comments, this answers quite a few on my question. Nic I appreciate the detailed explanation, there are definitely a few ideas there I won't mind trying. Who knows maybe it rains for real although I think the relationship between rain drops and a 2K light will be rather electric :)

Brian Drysdale February 8th, 2009 04:03 AM


Originally Posted by Nicholas de Kock (Post 1008395)
although I think the relationship between rain drops and a 2K light will be rather electric :)

Rather surprisingly this is done all the time on film shoots, the secret is not to switch the light off, so the drops instantly boil off. However, you do need waterproof electrical connectors on your cables.

A few years ago I shot a short film using Redheads and 2k Blondes as street lighting during which a few night scenes were shot in the rain. Only one bulb blew, which is pretty normal thing with Redheads on a shoot, so I couldn't say it was due to the rain.

Nic MacDonald February 9th, 2009 02:20 PM


Originally Posted by Aric Mannion (Post 1007773)
There must be some type of grid or something that is used for the water to fall through, do they really just use a hose?

Not on professional productions, no. The OP specified a no-budget production so I went as low-tech as possible with my ideas.


Originally Posted by Nicholas de Kock (Post 1008395)
Who knows maybe it rains for real although I think the relationship between rain drops and a 2K light will be rather electric :)

If you have a 2K you can ignore my suggestions about shooting times and light direction, naturally. But it'll need to be heavy rain to show up on video.

EDIT: I just thought of something else, actually: a faster shutter speed could help to pick out the rain drops a bit.

Richard Alvarez February 9th, 2009 02:47 PM

"Search" is your friend in the forums.

Tim McKinney February 21st, 2009 08:08 PM

I have worked in the production business for over 13 years and in the special effects
business for around 10 years. When we do rain effects, we add milk to the water. The milk makes the rain drops show up in the light. All you need is some pvc pipe and fittings and rent a pump tank at a local rental shop, add a small amount of milk and you are good to go.
If you have a Grand Rental station in your area I do believe they rent the tanks.

Good Luck

James Lombardo February 22nd, 2009 11:04 AM

Told ya so!
Ha, Ha, Ha.

Karel Bata March 4th, 2009 05:50 PM

No such thing as waterproof connections, just water-resistant. Certainly none you'll have access to at your budget. My point is, NEVER get over-confident and leave a connection you have been told is 'waterproof' immersed in water.

Here's something I crewed on a while back YouTube - Jamiroquai - Deeper Underground And it was a wet one! On that shoot all actual connections were raised off the floor using a forest of century (lighting) stands, and were also wrapped in plastic bags. Appropriate circuit breakers are always used in case something goes wrong - someone can easily slip and knock over a light. In your case use proper ELCBs, but be warned that most of the domestic ones on the market are not good enough. You'll have to research that a bit (and you could always let us know what you discover). I'll see if I can find out more.

Best bet really is to keep the electrics and the water well apart.

To light the rain get the back-light as far round the back as you can - and a dark background will make a big difference.

IMHO one of the biggest indicators of rain is that actors are wet! In fact dripping. Which then means they'll get cold...

Bets of luck!

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