Watch: Tips on Creating Realistic Day-for-Night Shots in Post

If you need to turn your day shot into a night shot, then you should check out these helpful tips. 

Whether due to a scheduling conflict or last minute decision, eventually you're going to have to shoot your night shots during the day (and vice versa), and since it's bound to happen at some point in your filmmaking career it would be wise for you to learn how to shoot "day-for-night" shots. There are many different techniques you can use to pull off this effect with lighting, but in this video, Aidin Robbins of Digital Blast offers up several tips on how to do it in post. Check it out below:

The most ideal approach to shooting day-for-night, in my opinion, is capturing the effect in-camera, meaning you rely on lighting techniques, like colored gels and light placement, instead of post-production techniques, like lighting effects and adding VFX assets. This is because you can never really guarantee that you'll be able to pull off the effect or make it look realistic, which renders those shots (and all that time/money/energy) totally useless.

However, if you have no other option, Robbins' tips will absolutely come in handy. I especially like his clever approach to adding grain to shots. Many of us would think to add some grain to our day-for-night clips, because yeah, footage shot at night tend to have more of it, but fewer would think (or know how) to add grain only to the darkest parts of the shot. Very clever, very useful!

From there, though, perhaps the most important post work you'll be doing to capture this effect is color grading, especially if you didn't use any colored gels to light your scenes. This is relatively straightforward—night shots are typically darker, less saturated, and have more blue tones, so adding those looks to your grade will really help sell the illusion that your daytime shot was captured during the night.

Do you have any tips on creating the day-for-night effect in post? Let us know in the comments below.     

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I watched/read a lot about shooting day-for-night, and there's a lot of conflicting information. Some people recommend shooting on an overcast day, but for me a flat image that's then flattened/darkened down just looks like murky mush. From my own experience, if you're shooting outside, the first (and most obvious thing) is to plan your shots to see as little of the sky as possible. The work involved in getting a good key for sky replacement is a headache you don't want if you can avoid it. Ideally, you want a bit of contrasty light, so shoot when the sun is low and use a sun direction app to help plan the blocking of your shots so that the sun acts as a side light (90 degrees or so). Shoot with a camera with a high dynamic range - you don't want to crush/burn out either end, but be particularly conscious of burning out any highlights and underexpose a tad. Then, when you grade, you can drop the exposure and play around with the highlights until you get something with enough contrast to make details pop, but enough richness in the dark areas to actually look night time, and not like mush.

July 10, 2017 at 3:06AM

Alex Richardson

I watched an in depth BTS video from Mad Max Fury Road. They shot Day for Night in the middle of the day. The DP said that he overexposed as well. When bringing down the exposure drastically you'll get darker mids and shadows (while retaining detail) and your highlights will appear as moonlighting. Shooting in RAW so that you can adjust the WB to be super cool blue.

July 13, 2017 at 9:43AM


All that and still nothing that looks like a night shot.

July 10, 2017 at 7:40AM

Richard Krall

Obviously (especially with today's cameras) shooting at night is the best way to go. With that being said, the video had some good suggestions to turn day shots into night. Note: I would have liked to see the finished shot with all the day for night enhancements completed.

July 11, 2017 at 10:42AM

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November 24, 2017 at 12:16AM, Edited November 24, 12:16AM