Iconic Rain Scenes You Can Make Using Stock Assets

Iconic Rain Scenes You Can Make Using Stock Assets

October 27, 2021
Logan Leavitt

Take notes from these three unforgettable scenes that you can replicate with rain VFX stock footage.

From the Washington Wilderness to the streets of London, few things can set the mood of a scene more than rain. The weather has such an incredible effect on our psychology in fact that some research has found a connection between rainier climates and higher depression rates.

Though rain doesn’t have to be sad, like many things, it is another tool in the filmmaker’s hands that can layer many things into a scene, from emotionality to mystery to fear.

The following scenes are iconic for their rain and offer lessons achievable with clever use of rain stock footage and perhaps a quick wet down with a hose. 

Blade Runner - Like Tears in Rain

We’re starting with a bang. Perhaps one of the most iconic rain scenes in all of cinema culminating in one of the most iconic rain lines—the cyberpunk epic’s tragic villain comes to an end in the pouring rain of a dim and moody city. There is an incredible depth to the scene which is built on Rutger Hauer’s performance and dressed with the visuals to match the mood. 

The rain in this scene is all about volume. Everything and everyone is soaked as a full downpour takes over the frame. Most apparent is our character Roy with a near-constant pour running down his face. This is absolutely crucial to tying in with the famous metaphor, “Like tears in rain”.

We see this playing out in front of us as he utters the very words. If Roy were to be crying, his tears would be lost in the downpour that surrounds him. In this way, his pain is forgotten just as it has been through the course of the film. 

One of the best things you can do in this instance (as is the case with most environmental effects) is find a strong mix between practical and post. Whether it’s a quick hose down of your set and actors all the way to a full-scale rain machine, every bit of on-set details will help to ground realism to the scene.

From there, you can have some fun and go wild, filling out the edges of the frame and building an even look with a mix of stock assets. 

The Notebook - It’s Not Over

It’s always powerful when characters are placed in situations where you naturally expect one thing, and they subvert it entirely. There’s a real “gimme” here with rain in the sense that almost every person’s natural inclination when a downpour begins is to run away and find shelter. There’s a dilemma that’s presented here and when characters stand their ground in the rain, it adds a level of intensity to their decisions. 

The Notebook’s, “It’s Not Over” scene is not only a perfect example but was so emblematic of the film’s tone that it’s the very cover image for the film. While Blade Runner used rain to represent loneliness and disconnection, The Notebook uses rain to represent desperation and the madness of love. 

There’s something romantically insane about our character’s acceptance of the chaos around them. It signals very simply to the audience that there are far more important things to address than the fact that we’re stuck outside in the rain. And let’s be honest, it’s a perfectly dramatic moment that for many mirrored the tears they shed in the theater. 

Rear Window - Rainy Night Scene

Throwing back to a classic is always a great way to consider how filmmaking lessons can be translated independent of the techniques involved.

Alfred Hitchcock didn’t exactly use ActionVFX rain assets for his 1954 thriller Rear Window, and yet the lessons in visual storytelling and the fundamental ways in which rain is used for this particular scene can be translated to any technique of your choice. 

The main result here is a separation that helps to build the suspense that Hitchcock is so known for. From our POV which is aligned with the main character, there’s a distinct separation and contrast between the dark gloomy alleyway and the various pockets of comfort and warmth within each window. 

This draws a line in the sand emotionally and establishes us as a spectator, but also presents a moody calm-amongst-the-storm sort of feel to many scenes within the windows. 

Windows and rain go hand in hand and present an opportunity to change the feel of an indoor scene by establishing the conditions of the vast world outside. Just as important here is the sound design—everybody loves a good pitter-patter on glass for some ambiance.  

The list of iconic rain scenes goes ever on from Pride and Prejudice to Shawshank Redemption, each with their own unique take on mother nature’s moody gift to us all. For your purposes, we have enough assets to suit almost any scene.

Establish a stormy night, or set up a tragic breakup for your main character, whatever it is make the environment work in your favor and drive the emotions of your scene.

Have you heard of the new ActionVFX Subscription? You can gain direct access to our library of VFX stock footage to use in the Creative Cloud for as low as $14.99 a month. This is the best way to use the ActionVFX library in your future projects.


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