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Rain Element Plates

Published : 14th September 2003


Hi everyone

I've got a question regarding shooting rain for an element plate for a scene in a short film. (film was shot S16 and finishing to DVCAM)

The sequence involves a group of people coming through a door way and looking at the rain falling around them. The people are standing on a covered porch and the camera is positioned in front of them. We couldn't afford to shot with real rain as we were in a remote rural area with not much water around. What we planed to do was create the rain digitally and as well as a "real rain" plate that we would shoot in a studio. This was on the advice of the animator doing our CG

Everything was going fine until we couldn't recreate realistic looking rain in the studio. Our main problem is that the water that was coming from our hoses wasn't coming in droplets...more continuos streams of water...

Has anybody had experience in this area? What should I be doing or should have done?

Thanks for your help

Matt Jacobson
Aspiring Cinematographer
Sydney, Australia



>Everything was going fine until we couldn't recreate realistic looking rain >in the studio.

Typically you'd use a kind of sprinkler system that is very high overhead. It helps if the water has a long way to drop before it enters frame. Not sure how you'd do that on a budget. Go up into the greens...? Even if you can only get a decent bit of rain that's a couple of feet wide you can clone that digitally to cover your frame.

I'm assuming you'd shoot against black...?

Of course you'll want to match the focal length, aperture, camera angle and focus of the shot you're adding rain to. You'll also want the rain to fall no farther away from the camera than where the actors are, otherwise you'll have the appearance of rain falling 20 feet from the camera when there's an opaque wall only 10 feet away. You'll probably want to get some rain falling closer to camera, out of focus, to create some depth.

Art Adams
DP
Mountain View, "Silicon Valley"
California
http://www.artadams.net/



Art Adams wrote :

>Of course you'll want to match the focal length, aperture, camera angle >and focus of the shot you're adding rain to…

I wonder if matching is so critical with something as visually ethereal as rain. I recall years ago shooting smoke for stock shots to be saved for an FX house. Simply a variety of FX smoke shots for archive with a variety of image sizing and focal lengths.

Perhaps the shots can be much tighter and the rain FX created with some overhead misters and small fans. Scaled down to much tighter shots and smaller droplets. Just a thought...

Do remember, large or small, rain must be backlit to be seen with a dark background. Each source is seen by the rain so for evenly lit rain one must back light all four sides of the frame unless, of course, the back light is significantly motivated from one direction.

Best Regards,

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP



>I wonder if matching is so critical with something as visually ethereal as >rain.

It might not be. I have no experience shooting rain plates so I'd err on the side of caution. I've definitely seen fake rain in the past that just plain didn't look right because the perspective was wrong. I'm sure someone here knows better than I.

In the end, it's not a true film experience unless you can get away with something.

Art Adams
DP
Mountain View, California



>Perhaps the shots can be much tighter and the rain FX created with >some overhead misters and small fans.


Hi,

This works for extremely large-scale rain, very well. It looks like the swirling columns of rain coming out of the bottom of a cloud, from several miles away, if you let it drop naturally. This might be useful for a background. If you blow it around more, it can look slightly larger scale. I once used it (at the suggestion of someone else, while I was at university, so take this with a pinch of salt!) on a model shot of a helicopter taking off from the back of a ship at sea. From this I'd say the rain is about 1/36 scale!

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London



Just for the mechanics of it. Try a couple - or however large your frame needs to be - maybe 10 - shower heads and put them on ‘C’ stands and point them up not down (will help dispersion) and tune their positions and adjustments till your happy. Get the inexpensive steel heads at the home dept., department. They adjust well and will clamp to a ‘C’ stand well.

Don’t forget plenty of hose.

Caleb Crosby, s.o.c.
Cameraman
New Orleans/New England