5 Easy Tips for Achieving Day for Night

“The key is knowing when and where you can get away with it.”

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker and founder of the boutique post-production company Creative Rebellion. In his latest guest post for Indiewire, he writes about how to achieve the day-for-night look. Check out Kroll’s blog here, and Creative Rebellion here.

Low-light cameras such as the Sony A7S and Canon C300 have been opening up incredible possibilities for shooting night exterior scenes without any lights at all. But there are still some huge advantages to shooting day for night which can make it an ideal choice for many filmmakers. So for those of you who are looking to go down that path, this article will detail exactly how to do it right.

Shooting day for night (for those of you that don’t know) is quite literally the practice of shooting during the day with the intention of making your footage look like it was shot at night. There is no exact science to this process, and there are several different approaches that can be employed in order to achieve a day for night effect. The technique is constantly used on films of all shapes and sizes, and has been one of Hollywood’s favorite tricks of the trade for years. Films such as “Castaway” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and countless others have been able to nail down a realistic day for night effect without the audience ever second-guessing it.

Before the advent of digital color grading platforms and compositing tools, many day for night sequences were captured in-camera. A combination of filters (usually an ND, Polarizer and a Day For Night filter) would be used to underexpose the image, while also giving it a slight color cast to help sell the effect. More specifically, the ND filter would simply knock down the exposure, while the Polarizer would help to manage hot spots in the sky, reflections, and other surfaces that could be giveaways. Day For Night filters would often be used as a means to cut out certain colors (red in particular) so that the footage would shift to a cooler color palette, which is more consistent with moon light…

Check out these handy tips from Indiewire.