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Old January 24th, 2008, 09:00 AM   #1
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rain in wildlife productions?

Hello everyone… I have been thinking of one thing for a time now. When you are filming a normal film and you are shooting a rain scene, you need to use a rain machine to make it look real because of the small raindrops in a real rain. What I have learned is that a video camera can’t “se” the raindrops…

So now to my question… in one of the episode of “Planet Earth” they are filming a rain scene in the desert… is that fake? Do they use rain machines or how do the do it?

Cheers from Sweden
Markus Nord
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Old January 26th, 2008, 04:33 PM   #2
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I haven't seen all of Planet Earth, and I don't remember that particular scene, however . . . .

I don't normally shoot in the rain, but I have some clips taken in poor light in the early morning and the rain is obvious. I think perhaps shutter speed may have something to do with it - slower shutter speeds leave heavy trails of raindrops.

I've just checked some other clips, and in one you know its raining because you can hear it, in another you can see the ripples as the raindrops fall into water, and in a third you can see the rain falling because the background is dark.

So I guess if you have the right conditions, you can make the raindrops visible.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 04:58 PM   #3
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Hi Marcus..............

and hello again Annie!

I think the secret of getting rain to show up on video is the lighting.

As, to all intents and purposes, a raindrop is spherical, a strong light behind the camera, in line with the lens, will shine through the camera side of the drop and be reflected by the rear surface straight back towards the camera.

Hence the drop will appear to glow.

It's the same principal as used wirh the reflective glass beads that go into just about anything highly reflective like road markings and signs.

Interestingly, if you shoot an aquarium with a video camera, the myriad small bubbles produced by the oxygenator, which are very difficult to see with the naked eye, stand out like sore thumbs on the video, even tho' the usual lighting in such a situation has the light source at 90 degrees to both the veiwer and the camera.

I think this is because the water/ air interface is sort of reversed compared to a raindrop, and thus the light is reflected off the first surface it hits, not the concave rear surface.

Bet you all wanted to know that!


PS. It doesn't explain why the video camera "sees" more than the naked eye, however, that is still puzzling me.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 26th, 2008 at 05:04 PM. Reason: Addition
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Old January 27th, 2008, 01:57 AM   #4
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The other thing about rain in the desert, it that it does tend to be large heavy raindrops. Or perhaps it is just easier to film when it is large heavy raindrops.

So I think a lot of it still comes down to knowing the right conditions for the rain to show up.

On the other hand, if your film is intending to demonstrate something specific, then using a rain machine and controlled conditions can often do a better job.

Another way to show that it is raining is the rain drops on the camera lens - most often seen on TV on sports programs here!
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Old February 4th, 2008, 01:23 AM   #5
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Thanks for you replies. I’m not using rain in a production at the moment but that is just an issue that I always come back to. The thing with lighting, that Chris wrote, may be one way.
I would be interesting to know how the do it, is it fake and rain machines or?

Thanks and good luck in UC7.

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Old February 4th, 2008, 06:24 PM   #6
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Im not sure about it too but from the looks of the shots (the wide shots), the rain is most prob natural and not from a machine. I would hate to be lugging a few machines just for the wider shots. Thus it would be better planning on their part which guided them to the rainy days.

Raindrops on the lens (no offence here) is really not a good way to show rain. It spells photojournalism and looks more like news-gathering than a well-planned docu. Backlighting or bottom up lighting is the best way.


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