South Wales melodic hardcore band Revelation came to us with an idea for a video for their upcoming single “Until We Meet Again”, which would involve a lot of water, splashing, slow-motion stomps in puddles and a good deal of emotion. We decided to go one better – we made it rain.
Now, shooting in the rain itself is a production nightmare. Loads of ponchos, umbrellas and rain covers are needed to keep all the equipment safe and dry, let alone the ordeal of having to keep all the electronics and cables in check. Our task was to get the look without actually being stood in the middle of a rainstorm. After a little brainstorm session, we decided that the best option was to manufacture a ‘rain machine’. This would mean that the band were kept within an area with a constant stream of water droplets, but the crew and equipment would be spared from its wrath.
After a few hours of R&D and some awful technical drawings (neither of us studied Design Technology in school), we had blueprints for our machine. A series of hoses, attached to tall stands (that were actually our green screen stands), with sprinkler heads attached to the ends. Four of these, positioned around the band in a circular configuration would provide adequate coverage and result in a pretty believable amount of rainfall. All we needed was a location with a good constant water supply, which an industrial yard was happy to offer.
Thanks to the extremely tight nature of the project’s deadline, we were forced to test the contraption for the first time on-set, with hope in our hearts and an indomitable sense of “We got this”. The hoses were set up, sprinkler heads attached. We connected the machine up to the tap…
…and watched water dribble out of the sprinklers like the tears of a disappointed child.
The water pressure was nowhere near the required amount, which was a blow for us, after being reassured that it was industrial strength. This was when our thinking caps had to be bolted on securely, as we had only a few hours to correct the issue. The pressure from the tap was enough to get a good amount of output from only one sprinkler, but this wasn’t enough to give full coverage across the whole band. The location’s saving grace was that it did have a lot of toys for us to play with. We tried feeding the water source through an industrial jetwash, hoping that it would deliver a more pressurised feed and push through a number of the sprinklers, but the feed just wasn’t delivering enough water. Our problem was at the very source.
The yard’s owner then suggested something a little more radical. He had in his possession both a 500-gallon water butt and a JCB Telescopic Handler. If we combined the two, we could lift the water butt 10 meters into the air, feed the water down the hose and use the power of gravity to deliver a wonderful pressurised stream that covered the entire band.
At first, we were dubious, but once that thing was hoisted into the air, water started to flow, and with it, the hopes and dreams of a generation. The pressure was sufficient enough to blast it out of one sprinkler head, and teamed with the feed from the tap, we had ourselves a working rain machine with impressive coverage.
We did feel a little sorry for them throughout the shoot, as even though it was the middle of summer, where the nights are quite temperate, that water constantly drenching them was in no way warm. We did, however, have a healthy supply of sausage rolls, junk food and energy drinks to keep the morale high, which worked an absolute treat.
Everyone was pleased with the resulting video, with the rain effect being so believable that we even had to convince a few people that we had to manufacture it. Definitely one of those pat-yourself-on-the-back moments.