Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photo

Rain bars and Technocrane

Mother Nature being the uncooperative bitch that she is, never creates rain when we really need it. Hence the contraptions on the right of the photo – they’re called either rain bars or rain towers, and they’re set up, hooked up to a water truck and they make very realistic-looking rain.

Someone once told me that in the old-fashioned black and white movies, they mixed the rain water with non-fat dry milk to make it show up. We don’t do that anymore, if it was ever done (and if you know for sure, please do let me know).

The key to really nice-looking rain is backlight. Always backlight or sidelight your rain, and then it stands out and looks really pretty on film, and you get the nice shine on the wet ground and buildings.

If you light rain from the front, it will look  like crap. You’ve been warned.

My unemployment interview was, thankfully, a non-event because I got lucky and got a lady who understood film workers. Sometimes it can take some explaining, but she got it right away and told me to just update my ‘resume’ on the job site so I’d show as active and make the computer happy. Or something.

Happy weekend.

Filed under: camera, Photos, studio lots, up all night, Work

8 Responses

  1. Enguerrand says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but according to camera position, it seems that the rain is lighting from the front, isn’t it?

    Peggy sez: No, the rain in this scene is lit from the camera right side. They weren’t rolling when this shot was taken so it’s possible they were just swinging the head around.

  2. A.J. says:

    That’s an awesome picture.

    And I’ve heard that “milk+water=old fashioned rain” story a few times myself (though I don’t remember it being specified as powdered milk). In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s even listed in the “trivia” section on the IMDb page for Singing In The Rain.

  3. JCW says:

    Nice shot. Artificial rain means to me: A) Bad hair. B) A pay bump! Infinitely preferable to smoke work.

    Congrats on your easy triumph with unemployment. We went down that road recently and had to appeal – bitches.

    How’s the vegitable garden doing?

  4. Fred says:

    Really great shot!

  5. k4kafka says:

    Ah yes, the backlot at Universal at night….brings back fond memories.

  6. Jim says:

    Spent entirely too many days dragging fire hoses through attics downtown (you think dragging cable is bad, wait til you drag a wet firehose through 70 years of dreck) or raining from upper Grand to lower Grand.

    I’ve heard the milk thing, but it would be a pain to arrange, unless you’re pumping out of a tank or something, and every rain job I ever did was either out of a hydrant or a tank truck, usually the former. As you say, decent lighting and decent rain makes it read on film. When we used to do sno-foam, that was a big enough pain with pressure tanks of soap solution.

    The real key is low pressure in the spray heads.. low pressure = big drops = big light contrast. High pressure = small drops (think Mee foggers..at 5000psi) “real rain” is in drops too tiny to show up.

  7. jurebro says:

    Hey, there. I just wanted to drop a comment to let you know that you’ve got a new reader. I’m a photographer wanting to branch into film production (anything and everything), and I stumbled across your blog. I’ve read a few entries, and so far, I love what I’ve read. I look forward to diving deeper into the archives when it’s not one in the morning.

  8. Róisín says:

    That’s an amazing shot.

    If you’re ever looking for approx 364 days of natural rain a year, visit us in Ireland.

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