Rain can have a big impact on the look and feel of a scene. One of the most valuable tools filmmakers have at their disposal is the ability to artificially create a rain sequence or film outdoors in real rain, in order to cast a certain mood. However, it’s not easy to shoot in the rain.
Whether you film outdoors on a naturally rainy location or you are simulating fake rain, shooting in these circumstances requires special consideration and preparation. Here’s how to film in the rain successfully and ensure that your equipment and crew remain safe.
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Be Familiar with Water Hazards
Rain scenes need careful consideration, because working with water has a variety of associated risks. The first thing as you prepare to film in the rain is to be aware of hazards such as:
- Extensive damage caused to electrical or otherwise sensitive equipment.
- Potential injuries as your cast and crew navigate slippery surfaces.
- Electrical and fire hazards. Use batteries to power equipment you’ll use during your shoot, and avoid plugging anything into electrical outlets.
- Audio. Rain causes a lot of background noise and limits your options for capturing audio.
Even if you take care to waterproof your equipment, chances are you will get rain drops on the lens of your camera. Be careful as you clean your lens—it’s a delicate component that is easily damaged. Even wiping your lens with your shirt can cause small scratches. Dab your lens carefully with a microfiber cloth, and clean with products like Pancro or Rosco lens cleaner.
Before you begin filming, scout your location ahead of time. This will help you schedule the time of day you’ll need to shoot in order to utilize rain effects to the fullest. Rain sequences often need to be filmed at night or during sunrise/sunset, also known as the “golden hour”. Planning ahead is essential so you can ensure you’re ready to go and can make the most out of what may be a short window of time.
If you are simulating rain, you need to know what your source of water will be and how to control it. Many filmmakers use hydrants, water trucks, water rigs, and even hoses to simulate rain from above. They also use these tools to do a “wet down”—they hose down the props, roads, and even actors in a scene to enhance the realism and make it look as if it truly has rained.
Avoid the Sunlight
To ensure the rain can actually be seen in your shot, you’ll need to avoid any sunlight. A lack of sunlight will also make the scene look more authentic. Viewers may find it hard to believe it’s raining if the sun is clearly out. This is why you’ll likely need to shoot at sunrise or sunset, or in the shadows. In cities, the canyon effect of tall buildings makes it possible to shoot rain sequences in the shade.
If you film at night, make sure the scene is backlit well. A prominent backlight will make the rain more apparent. Or, you can shoot against harsh lighting such as car headlights or streetlights.
Protect Your Equipment
You don’t want to cause damage to your camera, lighting, or sound equipment just for the sake of having a rain sequence. Luckily, there are many products that were developed specifically for the film industry to protect equipment from the elements, including:
- Rain covers like “Bag-It’s” that fit snugly over a big piece of equipment such as a camera
- Cellotex screen glass to protect lights and other sensitive equipment from water damage.
- Lens hoods that you can arrange over the end of your lens
- Ziplock bags, trash bags and tarps to wrap over equipment or store items in a waterproof manner
- Silica gel to put in your camera bag to ensure moisture does not get inside camera components
Not only are these items effective against rain, they’ll also protect your gear from dust and wind. You can use gaffer’s tape or duct tape to secure rain covers and lens hoods securely to your equipment. You can find these expendables and more at Wits End!
Protect Yourself and Your Crew
Last but not least, you’ll need to consider how to keep your crew safe and dry as you film in the rain. This is especially important if you are planning on shooting in real rain conditions, but should be considered even if you will be artificially simulating rain. Set up an EZUp tent to protect your cast and crew from the elements, and lay Wits Board, Layout board, Upson or corrugated cardboard to prevent mud or slippery surfaces.
Wits End Rain Kits are a useful purchase to ensure that your crew members have what they need to stay warm and dry as you film in the rain. These kits include items such as:
- Hand towels
- Plastic sheeting
- And more
Find Everything You Need to Film in the Rain at Wits End
It can be difficult to pull off, but a successful rain sequence provides the unique effect you’re looking for in your film. As long as you plan ahead, understand water hazards, and take steps to protect your equipment and crew, you will be able to film in the rain. When you’re ready to complete your rain shoot, you’ll find all the expendable items you need at Wits End to ensure it goes smoothly—as well as other supplies and equipment for a fully successful production.