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View Full Version : Why are roads on TV or in movies always wet??


Szos
08-27-2006, 03:06 PM
OK, this question is coming from another forum that I frequent (and honestly, I have not noticed this myself, but posting it anyways).

I am wondering if it has anything to do with editing the video - like adding effects or something like that? Possibly because of reflections or some such?

Or is it something as simple as the fact that cars tend to stand out more if the road is wet?

I figure there are some people in the industry here and they might have a clue.

mynewcat
08-27-2006, 03:56 PM
Simple answer: they're not.

Ivan D Young
08-27-2006, 03:56 PM
The roads are generally wet so that the road surface is slightly more specular and reflective. You know that shiny wet look. I think that it really boils down to wanting make the film or tv show look better. In my opinion, I think it is so cliched I wish they would just quit the practice all together. Heck, many of the car commercials use CG cars anymore so that they get that shiny look. It would be interesting if anyone knows when, wetting the streets got started.

kemijo
08-27-2006, 05:06 PM
Edit: post removed due to totally misunderstanding the question! Read on for the correct answer...ya learn something new everyday.

chowfx
08-27-2006, 05:20 PM
Usually there's a big spotlight that's used to backlight the characters/point of interest. Wet surfaces are more reflective (*points to Kemijo post*) and so give the characters more 'pop' and clear seperation from the background.
Next time you're watching a movie that's suppose to take place at pitch black night.. look for the giant flood light backlighting everything.

Jackdeth
08-27-2006, 05:36 PM
Here's the deal, it's called a "wet down." You wet a road so that it looks darker looking on film. I personally hate the look of it, but many DP's perfer that than to have a bright grey road in the frame (it also adds some nice reflections for night shots). What I don't like is that the dam water will dry up in between takes, causing continuity issues, and also when a car drives by it kicks up a water spray off of the tires. Also, you can get puddles which can cause lots of problems. Ugh.


We might be doing wet downs in AVP2 just because shooting in Vancover can be risky with random rain showers, so we might have to wet down all the roads just in case it starts to rain there won't 3 dry takes and 3 wet ones. That would cause a problem in editing trying to cut between the two.

nubian
08-27-2006, 06:14 PM
i've always, always, alwaaaaays wondered that.

Szos
08-27-2006, 08:03 PM
Well I'm glad you guys didn't think that I was crazy then posting this then. :thumbsup:

I figured it had something to do with either editing or contrast or something like that, but that was purely a guess.

L.Rawlins
08-27-2006, 08:12 PM
This was very insightful. 5*

kemijo
08-27-2006, 08:43 PM
Here's the deal, it's called a "wet down." You wet a road so that it looks darker looking on film. I personally hate the look of it, but many DP's perfer that than to have a bright grey road in the frame (it also adds some nice reflections for night shots). What I don't like is that the dam water will dry up in between takes, causing continuity issues, and also when a car drives by it kicks up a water spray off of the tires. Also, you can get puddles which can cause lots of problems. Ugh.


We might be doing wet downs in AVP2 just because shooting in Vancover can be risky with random rain showers, so we might have to wet down all the roads just in case it starts to rain there won't 3 dry takes and 3 wet ones. That would cause a problem in editing trying to cut between the two.
Wow. I had no idea that this was done. Seems a bit extreme and would introduce more problems than not.

mynewcat
08-29-2006, 08:33 AM
Simple answer: they're not.

Well, I stand corrected - maybe they are.

I hope the stunt drivers take more due care and attention then!

SOE digital
08-29-2006, 10:57 AM
Nice post Jackdeth. As someone who personaly likes to get involved onset/location I must say I've never heard of the wetdown trick.
Maybe we just don't do it here in Aus...maybe that's why our films are always so ugly :D
Except for Gallipoli ofcourse...that was a masterpiece.

When the crew prepares for a 'wetdown' what do they use? Just a hose or what?

timothyc
08-29-2006, 11:35 AM
Fundamentally, the practice started as a lighting technique to achieve a nightime effect. The idea is to fill your composition with large areas of blackness while at the same time countering it with very small bits of (overexposed) brightness. If you don't have the bright bits the overall image would simply look underexposed (contrary to popular belief, nightime lighting is not the same thing as a normally lit scene but with the exposure cranked down). It's one of those funny things: black looks blacker when there's a tiny bit of whiteness for the eye to contrast it with. And DOP's really cherish their "blacks" (as they refer to them).

In practical terms, you rotate the keylight around the subject so that rather than being frontal it is now a backlight, so now you can maximise the little kicks you get from light sources reflecting on highly specular surfaces - hence the wetted roads. You also get distinctive rim lighting on people's faces, shoulders and hair; which we movie/TV viewing audiences have come to accept as visual code for "nightime".

So the next time you see a night scene, as well as observing the wet roads, you might also care to note that the keylight is now behind the subject (anywhere from directly behind to a 90 deg. crosslight), and that there's at least a few practical sources in the frame providing those "counter" highlights.

OTOH, if it's a daytime scene then it's sometimes done as a way to preserve continuity. If the crew has to film a scene over the course of several days in variable weather, then it's easier to wet a dry road than it is to dry a wet road.


TC

EDIT: Pardon me, I didn't see that Jackdeth had answered thisquestion already.

M31
08-29-2006, 03:31 PM
This is very interesting, I had never noticed that before!

lazzhar
08-29-2006, 03:46 PM
Aha that's why we see in making-of people on set sprinkling water with with pipes as if there was a fire or something. I was thinking that they are trying to cool things and make director shooting less.

Mr. D
08-29-2006, 07:48 PM
hello

also at times for dust problems. don't want too much kicked up to interfer with your shot, or coating your cameras and lens.

mr d

prixatw
08-30-2006, 01:23 PM
I hope the stunt drivers take more due care and attention then!

And that would be another reason, in a car stunt a skid can be induced at lower/safer speeds.

Not to mention covering up the skid marks from the rehersal!

Yossarian!
08-31-2006, 06:26 AM
I remember that Taxi Driver used wet downs quite dramatically. I'm not sure if it was the first to elevate them to demi-character level or not, but look at virtually every 80's movie shot at night and you'll see a wet road. Coincidence.

anakinbrego
08-31-2006, 06:55 AM
Roads are wet in movie because it looks prettier!

Kabab
08-31-2006, 09:18 AM
Nice post Jackdeth. As someone who personaly likes to get involved onset/location I must say I've never heard of the wetdown trick.
Maybe we just don't do it here in Aus...maybe that's why our films are always so ugly :D
Except for Gallipoli ofcourse...that was a masterpiece.

When the crew prepares for a 'wetdown' what do they use? Just a hose or what?
Maybe its because we have no water :)

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