Do you wish you could get just the right sky for your scene, but the blasted sky just won’t cooperate? Fret not, Ryan Connolly, his brother Josh, and Episode 126 of Film Riot is here to help. Obviously, when shooting outside, you can’t predict a moody sky with the perfect lighting on your subject. So, with a little planning in the shooting of your scene, and a good dose of After Effects, you can turn a boring sky into that dynamic, foreboding sky you’ve always wanted to use for your horror movie to create the right mood. I’m pretty sure this effect can be used for any genre and for any kind of background in which you’re looking, but here it’s for horror and it’s a great example.

First, you need to shoot two scenes: one of just the background with no actors, so you have something to play with in After Effects. The second scene is in the exact same location with a green screen behind your actor. The reason for this is so you can key in the background using the exact same lighting between the two scenes and the effects blend seamlessly.

The background without the actor is where you will be doing most of your work. Connolly, in his typically speedy fashion, goes over a ton of effects that he put this scene through in order to make it look right (be prepared to rewind and review this process many times before you get it). But the gist of it is he blacks out all of the stuff that is not the sky in the background, then finds a picture of the sky that he wants and the inserts it into the scene. Later, he is able to bring back all the stuff he blacked out, but putting a new sky behind it. Then he is able to play with the new sky to make it look like he wants, keys that into the shot with the actor, and ultimately, gets the lighting and the sky he wants to make everything look foreboding. It really is a neat trick.

Episode 126 of Film Riot also goes over these terms:

PRACTICAL: Any source of light, like a lamp, that is visible in-camera and is part of the scene. Cinematographers can use the source to light the scene, or use a lower-wattage lamp to expose in-camera as “motivation” for the lighting.

LAST LOOKS: This is something that is said by the first assistant director just before a scene is shot, which is basically a command for wardrobe and makeup to come out and make sure everything is ready. This is also a warning to the other departments that they should also be prepared.

HONEY WAGON: A moving port-a-potty. Yep. Apparently, a long time ago, a honey bucket was used for bathroom duties on a set

Anyway, Ryan thought it necessary to go over these terms because if anyone out there finds themselves working on a film set they should know some of the unusual lingo that might be tossed around.

Film Riot plays on Mondays and Thursdays on Revision3.