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Let It Snow, Let It Snow...‹ Back to News

03/12/14

Welcome back to my Wednesday Weather Update. Despite deciding in my last weather blog that rain isn't all bad, I can't help but hope that we get some snow to add a bit of Chrismassy magic to an otherwise gloomy time of year.

I decided to voice my hopes to Matt, who has the specialised knowledge and skill to make it snow however you want it to - and has recently come back from making snow for the Boots 'Special Because' Christmas advert.

He told me that there are three main variations of snow - ground frost, heavy snow and falling snow (which typically uses what are classified as either 'half size' or 'full size' particles, depending on the desired effect of heaviness). The usual request from a client would be to produce crisp, white snow - the kind of snow that epitomises the perfect Christmas scene or Winter Wonderland. That said, if it's the slushier stuff you're after - the kind of grey sludge you might find on the side of a road - Artem can produce this too.

Snow used for indoor locations - an interior studio or for an indoor display, for example - is usually made of either foam or plastic, and can come in various forms, my personal favourite being the sparkly, glittery one!

If Artem is asked to produce snow on outside locations, on the other hand, paper snow is used, along with a rather delightful device called a Krendl machine. I mentioned that we could make snow appear more grey and sludgy - this effect is achieved simply by altering the colour or texture of the paper sample that is placed inside the Krendl.

Inside the Krendl is a hopper to churn up the paper snow, which is then combined with water and, with the help of a fan, shot out of the machine. The water helps to bring down dust levels made by the churning of the paper, at the same time as enabling snow to stick to surfaces.

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This sticky quality of the snow, whilst so clever and useful, brings with it extra considerations in order to ensure that the snowy effect is realistic - if the window ledges of a house, for example, were to be dressed directly from the Krendl machine, there would be a danger that the snow would cling to the brickwork of the house, which wouldn't authentically represent the way snow really settles.

Indeed, it may seem like making a snowy scene is just a matter of chucking some white stuff about here and there without much thought, but it's more of an artistic enterprise than you'd expect. It's the smaller, final touches, often made by hand, that can make all the difference to producing 'snow' that really does look and behave like real snow!

But a snow job doesn't end there - not even with the most carefully hand-dressed, arty arrangements of the snow. No, the job isn't complete until the location is as clean and tidy as it started - which is no mean feat! This requires an element of forward-thinking and thoughtful preparation. For example, a base layer called a terram is laid down before any dressing of the snow takes place; this not only helps to produce a white, snowy effect for the background of a shot, but also helps to scoop up all the paper snow when it's time to clear up. Likewise, when it comes to dressing foliage or other props with snow, white wadding or special gauzes can be used - with a bit of luck, minimal spillage of 'snow' occurs, and a nightmare clean up situation is avoided!

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I'd be lying if I said that there's snow more to say about snow (har har). One day, I can let you into some more snowy secrets. In the meantime, here's hoping for a White Christmas - and if it doesn't snow for real, you know where to come!

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