Frances And Matt's Day Out - Running Around In The Rain‹ Back to News


Last week, I took an exciting excursion from my usual office base, and joined Matt and Rowan on a day shoot for a TV series, for which we’re providing various realistic effects.  For this shoot, we were providing lots of rain and a bit of fire.

Before the day came round, Matt warned me to bring as much waterproof gear as possible – he said that rain jobs always involve getting rather wet and muddy.  He also told me that I would have to wake up at 5am – which, to me, felt like the most horrific news in the world, as I am the least morning-y person most people ever meet.  ‘It’s not that early – I’ve had to get up at half 3 for a shoot before – and we’re lucky it’s just a 12-hour shoot, I’ve been on a shoot that’s lasted 28 hours!‘ said Matt.  So I shut my mouth and stopped complaining!

I turned up at our West London workshop bright and early, wondering if I had taken Matt’s advice a bit too literally, dressed in a massive waterproof anorak, my dad’s waterproof trousers and big green wellies.  But I am so glad that I did, because Matt wasn’t lying – providing rain is indeed a very wet and muddy business! 

I also discovered that it is quite a good toughening up exercise – especially if, as we did, you have to carry rain stands and stage weights up steep hills to the location!  All good for the biceps!

Most interestingly, though, I learnt a lot about how to do a rain job properly – it’s all very well making things look wet, but if it's obvious on camera that it’s not real rain, then all that carrying of equipment and getting grubby is probably not really worth it!

Here are just a few of the pointers that I learnt from Matt:

1)      It’s important that the rain is visible on camera.  This means that it needs to be backlit enough.  And, unless it’s very dark, it’s also handy to consider not only the rain itself, but the effects of the rain, such as having it dropping into a puddle.  It would also be a classic error to have rain in the foreground, while you can see that the background is dry, so Matt would provide a full ‘wet-down’ before any filming began.

Wet down rain FX 

Wet down rain effects

2)      Another point of consideration, is that if you’re working within a tight space, where you end up having to use stands on either side of the frame, you have to make sure the rain doesn’t cross, falling in different directions.  It helps for the rain stands to be as high as possible to create more even rainfall. Here’s a picture of a very tall rain stand, almost as tall as this rather cool tree:

Tall rain stand

3)      Of course, you have to pick the right rain set up for the job – there are always various options, and it depends on the effect that the client is after.  Perhaps the rain needs to be heavy, or perhaps the director is after a finer, more drizzly, effect.  This will involve matching the rain heads and rain stands at the appropriate pressure. Whatever the brief, we always go for the most flexible set up and equipment, so that we can get the desired result just right.

Rain on location 

Oh, and one final point.  We get a lot of calls asking for a rain machine, but… there is no such thing!  We call them rain stands, which can have a variety of rain heads, a bit like shower heads, that can produce different sizes of rain drop.  (You can keep on calling them rain machines if you like, though – we’re the experts after all, and you can leave all the technical stuff to us!)

The TV series will be released at the end of this year, and I’ll be sure to keep you informed as and when you can catch the first episode. In the meantime, you can check out our rain effects in this cool O2 commercial, featuring Emili Sande. 

I’ll be watching it from the delightful dryness of my office chair.