Day for night is an essential technique in modern production and one of those B-movie giveaways when it’s done wrong. It’s also frequently considered a prerequisite skill for finishing and visual effects artists. So how do you pull off a convincing day for night shot? Accomplished UK cinematographer Rob Ellis is going to take us through the entire process in this week’s masterclass from moviola.com.
Let’s be clear from the outset: day for night is not a post-production effect, at least not solely. If a shot isn’t planned as day for night, no amount of dial twiddling in post will rescue it. (Well, OK, VFX artists can do pretty much anything at this point, so let’s qualify that as, ‘no amount of affordable dial twiddling.’) In the video, Rob goes through the process of lighting a day for night shot with the appropriate motivating light source—evaluating the qualities of moon light, the similarities and differences to sunlight, and how to prepare a shot that minimizes those differences.
Rob then moves into post (using DaVinci Resolve, but the techniques apply to any color correction package) to demonstrate how to push contrast, black levels, and tint to nail the perfect day for night look.
This is a must-watch video, even if you’ve done day for night before; as always Rob puts careful consideration into his craft and articulates what other artists typically understand from intuition. And hey, it’s free (like all the content on moviola.com), so that’s a pretty good deal in these budget-conscious COVID days.