Filming Night Scenes?

I was wondering if anyone here had experience or tips on filming night scenes.

Ive got an okish HD video camera (~$1500) (Sony HDR-CX12)
Filming at night of course is a pain, (Think of a night time video shot in a forest, starry night and moon etc.) very little light is picked up, the camera has trouble focusing and so on. What youd expect I guess.

My first question is whether there are certain lenses or filters for a camera which would help with filming at night.

Id also like to know if theres any other ways to film night scenes, perhaps with soft blue lighting or something. Ive also heard of the technique where you film during the day (usually just as the suns gone down to avoid shadows) and then in post pro do a bunch of effects which make it look like a night scene. This would make it hard to film a short movie though, due to the time constraints (you’d only have a hour or so of good light) It would make filming very tedious…

Certainly, many film directors have chosen to film “night” scenes in daylight, because it is only during the daytime that you know that you’ve got enough photons to evenly and thoroughly expose the film. (The same is certainly true of video… in fact, even more so.)

If you know that you will be doing all of your “downstream processing” digitally, using HD or film only for “image capture,” then quite frankly I would advise you to shoot your “night” scenes at a reasonable hour. Nighttime can be effectively simulated by compressing the tonal-range and then shifting it first toward blue and then monochrome. The trick is… you must ensure that you have recorded the image successfully before you can do anything “in post.” That’s one heck of a lot easier to do in daylight.

As always, “it’s perfectly fine to choose to throw-away visual data if you know you’ve got it to throw away.”

Go find some of the photography (text-)books done by Ansel Adams and O. Winston Link. Read them thoroughly… It will take many weeks. You’ll be very glad you did. These folks understood and addressed the critical issues that face you now, long before computers entered this scene. They wrote about them. They accomplished magic. And, they planned to. (Mr. Link used flash bulbs…) Go learn how. It’s amazing. It’s relevant. It’s worth it. ('Scuse me, it’s time to go to the darkroom now. :smiley: )

Thanks for the feedback sundialsvc.

I know what you mean by recording enough visual data, you cant really do much with it if its lacking, you have much more power and options when theres a large amount of data available from the beginning. I guess some tests are in order.
It just makes filming anything tricky, because you have such a limited amount of time. What a pain!

Sounds like some interesting books as well.

Does anyone else have ideas/experience?
Some demonstrations of this kinda stuff would be great as well. Even before/after with the postpro effects on day>night filming would be great. I’ll search on youtube a bit to see if theres anything like that.

you dont, film in the day and make it look dark.

Yeah, “day for night” shooting is a time-honored tradition. A google of that term should bring up plenty of ideas. Here’s one article:

Nice, that article has a lot of good tips I hadn’t considered.

Here’s a video tutorial on transforming daytime footage into nighttime using After Effects. But you could do the same thing with Blender’s composite nodes.

Superagentes: Day to Night, from Licuadora Studio (done with blender’s compositing nodes):

You could do it like they did it in Be Kind Rewind. :smiley:

Thats a great video tutorial, thanks, most of that (if not all) could be done within Blender I imagine.

Wow awesome, good to see some real blender examples, great to see they posted the node setups for each part as well. :cool: