Apocalyptic Rain Effects
For the launch of the new 675LT, McLaren wanted a dystopian, almost apocalyptic landscape, complete with sideways rain effects. Over the course of one evening, we put more than 20,000 litres of water into the air and my full respect went to the DOP who was not afraid to go out there and get in it. Despite being completely soaked, they were able to capture some beautiful high-speed shots.
HOW WE DID IT
Fortunately living in the UK you get to see a lot of rain. However, making rain to shoot with requires collaboration with camera and lighting departments as there are rules to work with that make it look convincing and effective.
Whilst you can blanket cover an area at a great expense, it’s rarely necessary. It may sound simple but you should ‘dress to camera’. Within the frame, the only rain that reads on screen is whatever falls within the focal length, and naturally, this changes depending on the lenses used. Our preferred method is to place one band of rain between sharp and the camera just as it begins to blow out, another band behind sharp and background, and then focus areas with hand-held bars. This range of focus combined with varying scales of water droplets creates a sense of depth.
Unfortunately, water is transparent, so the only part you’ll see on screen is any light it reflects. Side or backlighting alone will not make the rain more visible as it will need contrast against the background or subject. When filming during the day it’s very easy to underestimate the amount of light required to create contrasting highlights on the water droplets, but shooting at night is an ideal scenario.
The finishing touch is to provide wind effects, as there are only a few rare occasions where rain falls without it.