Shooting Bupkis with Rain

I’ve been working on some short videos to accompany a toy product campaign. The product is Bupkis – a polyurethane foam toy that always bounces back. He’s meant to me smashed again and again, and that’s just what he does in the videos. There was one difficult shot in particular; the rain shot. The concept was ‘Under the weather?’ and we wanted Bupkis standing under some water. At first I just did a video of water being poured on Bupkis but some reviewers commented that it could be perceived as a urine stream. Not a good image. The product should also not get wet so it’s best to show Bupkis getting wet in the videos.

We decided to shoot a rain shot instead with Bupkis staying dry under an umbrella. My timeline? One night. The first thing I needed was an umbrella that was scaled to match Bupkis. Having to shoot that same night, I had no time to order something. Even if I had the time, finding a properly scaled umbrella might be difficult so to solve both issues it was best to create one myself. I used photo paper given the more water-proof-like quality than normal paper but much easier/faster to work with than plastic. I also had it readily available.Once I had the umbrella made, I needed rain. I drove to Target since it was the only

local store open at 9pm and looked for a plant watering-pitcher. Turns out those are seasonal items and were not available. I needed it that night. It was time to think of other options. I bought a large pitcher (to transport water from downstairs) and a short and wide plastic bin.

I drilled a bunch of holes in the bin and made a DIY rain machine. Since most of my shots would be tight, this would be big enough to cover my stage area. I attached the bin to two C-Stands high above where I placed Bupkis. I placed another small bin where Bupkis would stand so that the water could run into the other bin minimizing the potential mess. I just needed to place my stage within that bottom bin. I also laid a towel down to collect any splashing water. I ran a test and discovered the water just went to the edges of the bin. The bin’s center was very elevated, like a hump. I wouldn’t be able to fill the bin up quickly enough since the water would pour out the outer holes first and I didn’t want the bin getting too heavy with all that water. I needed to get the center to bow downward. I could do this with my hand, but not during takes. If I were to place something heavy inside, it would make the bin too heavy and also block some of the water holes. Instead I took some metal rulers and some c-clamps and made a t-shaped ‘pusher’ to press down the bottom of the bin. Somewhat surprisingly, considering how strong the bin was, the ‘pusher’ worked perfectly and never slipped out of place.

Also during the test I discovered the water was pouring out almost perfectly in tiny streams – which didn’t look at all like rain. My first though was to shake the bin on top but that would be difficult and possible cause an accident/mess. I thought about what it’s like on a rainy day; windy! I took a small fan and clamped it onto stand near the stage. Full power! Poured another pitcher of water into the bin to test and bingo! Rain. Now that the rain was coming in at an angle. The umbrella was blowing around a bit so I needed to have my background match that movement. Another fan aimed towards the plants did the trick.

Some shots had a plain white stage but it looked a little boring so I took some old scraps of carpet I found and laid out a surface for Bupkis. Having them as strips was useful. I was able to cut an indent in the side of one strip to allow the umbrella stand to stay mounted in the stage and go through the carpet. In the end, the producers liked the black-background shot the best (no plants) so I used that shot and composited the final clip by overlaying a shot of Bupkis dry over the raining footage. It now looked as if the umbrella was perfectly protecting him. Check out this clip of the composite pulled apart.


And here is a timeline video of be setting up the rain shot. I meant to take photos at faster intervals to make the time-lapse slower but since I was on a short timeline, I didn’t put much thought into the timelapse since it was just for fun. Observe the tests and then the fans going up!



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