My forthcoming (at some point!) project 3rd Rail takes place in a snow-blanketed New York City. From a production standpoint this poses significant problems, perhaps not as challenging as depopulating New York City like we did in The West Side (see also: hanging a guy from a 40-foot lamp post), but while we could use visual effects to overcome those problems in The West Side, snow and rain are more of a special effect that requires a practical approach (or just good luck with the weather). Here are a couple of really cheap methods worth considering if you need snow and rain but don't have a large budget (or a direct line to God).
This guy spent $20 on parts to create a contraption that works with an air compressor and garden hose (you can easily rent an air compressor from your local Home Depot or Lowe's). Here's a shot of his contraption coating an otherwise snowless suburban lawn with actual frozen stuff:
The details of his device:
As for rain, here's a tutorial from the kids at Indy Mogul. It goes without saying, but these kinds of DIY approaches trade time for money -- if you've got more of the former than the latter, this might be the way to get your shots without being beholden to mother nature.
First rule about using a rain machine: you still need an overcast day! Unless you want to get all Creedence Clearwater with it.
What do you think? Are any of these approaches usable?
[via Filmmaker IQ]