Day for Night

Day for night, an easy transformation right? Not always. Just darkening the shot and adding some blue doesn’t always sell it. Especially when you see crushed highlights and sharp shadows.

Some good tips for shooting day for night include:

  • Limit direct shadows from the sun
  • Limit specular hot spots
  • Use a backlight to generate “moon light” in post
  • Sometimes underexposing can help
  • Shoot at dusk
  • Don’t shoot the sun (duh!)
  • Don’t shoot at night or this post won’t help

Here is an example. Obviously there are many possibilities, like a tutorial that may come up. I need to shoot some footage so if I can get out this week great if not next week. Until then, we’ll leave the light on.

By adding masks around ‘bright’ spots you can create simulated illumination.

July 11th, 2007 @ 11:42 pm
This is great example, the small things really do the work!
July 11th, 2007 @ 11:51 pm
SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I absolutely love these AE tutorials that you have been producing.

Another suggestion for a day for night tutorial-- maybe in the future, could you do a day for night shot where you are overlooking a city skyline? I've always wondered how they got all the little office lights and home lights to turn on.... There are too many to try to make a mask by hand... so what could you do?

THANKS so much for your tutes!
Flim by Tim Productions.
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:02 am
Wow thats pretty nifty
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:12 am
I've try that at airport, shooting a plane landing.
Added some position light on wings, making all the windows lighted (one by one ... we have nothing for nothing)... but my big problem is clouds (don't know well if we can see clouds at night so far...) and a specular on the nose from the sun ! So the shoot must be be prepare for the show.
I've tried the shoot at night... a real nice black footage with color pixel noise ! mmmh....
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:38 am
Thats pretty clever stuff. Its almost like a spot the difference but with what you've had to add.
Harry McHugh
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:40 am
nice, little things make the difference. Plus, using film magic pro doesnt hurt
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:41 am
How would one go about adding the motion blur to the artificial light sources? This would just be trial and error with a directional motion blur I guess.
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:42 am

"Don’t shoot the sun (duh!)
Don’t shoot at night or this post won’t help"

July 12th, 2007 @ 12:45 am
Overcast clouds are really a plus. Also when shooting a car, Trapcode Lux can make it look pretty convincing by adding volumetric lights. You need to do some (hand)tracking to.
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:57 am
Finally someone those tutorials for video software, excellent place you got here i just became a member :D

July 12th, 2007 @ 1:07 am
looking forward to something like this. I am actually in the middle of doing a film and I really want to know how to do something like this in a fake time lapse video where it gradually goes from light to dark. I have seen it done in movies before would be good to see how its done
July 12th, 2007 @ 1:40 am
Sounds interesting.

Riko FX
July 12th, 2007 @ 2:02 am
Hi from France Andrew and the others!

Have a look" rel="nofollow">here!!!

It is a good tutorial for "day for night"!!!
Some Guy
July 12th, 2007 @ 2:04 am
Yes! I always wanted to know how to do this as realistic as possible. It's a great idea for a tutorial.
July 12th, 2007 @ 3:11 am
Great idea for a tutorial. I've been doing some CC for a short film I'm working on where the interior scene is supposed to be fairly dark. Unfortunately the FX1 we were shooting with doesn't do dark very well. The video becomes rather grainy, so we had to shoot with regular lighting to get the detail we needed then make the scene look dark in post. It hasn't been easy but I've got it looking pretty good.

Regarding Ferdi's post about volumetric lighting, I've done that before and it looks great with Lux. You get pretty good results by using the motion tracking in AE, so you may not have to hand track. You can see an example of it on my FX reel:

as well as an example of one of the interior shots mentioned above (the first part of the Cartoon FX clip). And yes, that's me running and jumping around in the Weather FX clip. If you've done some of Andrew's tutorials you'll probably recognized some things I've learned from this great site. The space animation was done a while ago, but if the blue earth tutorial had been up then it would have made it a lot easier, lol.
July 12th, 2007 @ 4:01 am
I like that French tutorial. Very nice.
July 12th, 2007 @ 4:02 am
looks very nice!

I am looking forward to the tutorial!
July 12th, 2007 @ 4:04 am

I can't understand french, please make a new one in english, andrew kramer style!

Thanks in advance
July 12th, 2007 @ 4:41 am
fantastic!!! this is exactly the tutorial i need for my own production.
i tried so many different ways in after effects but none was good enough.
Scott bishop
July 12th, 2007 @ 6:06 am
If you cant understand French, then simply use a website translator
July 12th, 2007 @ 6:39 am
Very nice. I love the little lighting effects touch u did with the street light and the truck headlights. Very effective. Hey AK, I just started a new Photo Blog and I was wondering if you could take a quick gander at some of my stuff. What I really would to do is start making slideshows with some subtle 3D projection. Unfortunately though, some of these may be complicated to pull that off. But it would be very cool to give my stuff some more depth that way. Anyways, I know your a busy dude but if you get a quick break take a look. take care
Dustin James
July 12th, 2007 @ 6:49 am
@Bill Kelly

I like the rain in the weather fx... I'd like to know how you did it.


Great idea.. will be waiting by my PC for the upload of the tutorial...
Some Guy
July 12th, 2007 @ 7:07 am
@Bill Kelly

I like the rain in the weather fx… I’d like to know how you did it.

Yeah, me too. :-)
July 12th, 2007 @ 7:16 am
bring it!

Bill- nice stuff on the fx reel. i agree with Dustin. the rain looks pretty nice. also the 3d pics & displacement mapping were well done.

i should really put my vfx reel together... :D
July 12th, 2007 @ 7:50 am
"Don’t shoot at night or this post won’t help"

bwahahaha - I almost wet my pants for real ;)
Jacob Behunin
July 12th, 2007 @ 8:19 am
Bill Kelly.
Are you in Utah? Your Displacement Image in your FX real looks familiar.

July 12th, 2007 @ 8:34 am
this is insane!!!
please make a tutorial about this!
July 12th, 2007 @ 8:44 am
I like this , its real nice
thanks so much
July 12th, 2007 @ 9:18 am
very helpful! im looking forward to the tutorial! you could possibly use some trapcode effects to enhance the lights... like car headlights or streetlamps...
July 12th, 2007 @ 9:21 am
thx Andrew! i'am waiting for it! its great...
ChaRLeS x
July 12th, 2007 @ 9:27 am
July 12th, 2007 @ 9:42 am
Nice job man
July 12th, 2007 @ 9:56 am
Cool, looking forward to this tutorial.

Andrew, do you think you could also include examples of how to make a surface appear wet, and possibly reflect its surroundings? I was playing with a few different ways the other day but couldn't come up with anything really that great...

What i'm trying to accomplish is simulated rain, with wet surroundings reflecting an object moving through the scene. It'd be a great tutorial.... if you're up to the challenge ;-)

*draws sword
July 12th, 2007 @ 10:02 am
Will you be doing a full length video tut for this??? I think this could be one of the most helpful tuts yet!!
July 12th, 2007 @ 10:12 am
Yes, definatly do a tutorial. Keep up the good work!
July 12th, 2007 @ 10:44 am
Please, make a tutorial for an industrial low fps camera with noise and titles! THX!
July 12th, 2007 @ 10:57 am
Cool, i had an idea but when ever i shoot the sun the bullet comes back down, stupid 9MM
July 12th, 2007 @ 11:46 am
Cool French tutorial.
Andrew, it is possible to create the shok wave (you know, cars flying, buildings burning and dust and fire)

You can add this effect in the Day for night tutorial. Maybe just a digital push on the truck.

Any way, thanks!
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:02 pm
yeah, I hope this tutorial is coming soon, I need this day for night for my actually short film... :) And their is in every shot a different light condition... :( ;)

thank's for your great tutorials!!
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:04 pm
Who needs french if we have Andrew?????

Awaiting exhalted your tut D
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:09 pm
Yeah, but those French are hard-working. I'm lazy... ;)
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:11 pm
Awesome. I've been wanting to shoot some night stuff but obviously it's dark, (der) so this would be great. A tutorials would be awesome. Thanks Andrew.
July 12th, 2007 @ 12:54 pm
hola Andrew!! saludos desde bogota, colombia
July 12th, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

how hard is it to go opposite. from night to day
July 12th, 2007 @ 3:07 pm
Dustin James, Some Guy, Pat Norman, Jacob Behunin

I used Trapcode Particular for the rain FX, though you could probably use CC Particle World as well.

Here's the emitter settings and timeline:

For the particle settings, try Life = 20, Particle Type = Sphere, Sphere Feather = 50
Size = 2.3, and adjust the color to a whitish blue

For Physics try Physics Model = Bounce, Gravity = 275. In the Bounce Settings, set the Floor layer to Floor (it's just a grid set at the angle you want and visibility turned off), Floor Mode = Infinite Plane, and Collision Event = Kill. Bounce = 25 and Bounce Random 52

In Aux System try Emit = At Collision Event, Particles/Collision = 8, Life = .5, Velocity = 150, Size = 1.5, Opacity = 10

Everything else you can leave at default. If you don't have Particular you can downlaod the demo at

Then you want to duplicate this a couple times in your main comp, make the layers 3D and add a camera. Adjust the layers and camera in 3D space to your liking. It also helps to adjust the curves in your video so that everything is a little darker, and you may need to mask certain areas and adjust their curves individually to make them look wet. Good luck!

Sorry for getting off topic here Andrew, lol. :)
July 12th, 2007 @ 3:28 pm
Not at all Bill. Nice stuff, thanks for sharing.

Night to day is not easy.
Orc Master
July 12th, 2007 @ 3:34 pm
Wow, Andrew, I've been trying this effect myself a lot; thanks for "maybe" making this tutorial ;)

Now, if I can make a little request here, could you also show us some nice moody color grading? As in, how to make a scene look sad, or cold, or happy. I've experimented with this but I'd like to see what experience says ;).
July 12th, 2007 @ 3:52 pm
Anyone interested should check out this link:

They don't exactly change it to night time, but it is along the same lines. They have a car, which was shot during daytime, driving through a cg rainstorm. They had to darken the scene to compensate for the cloud cover. They add Volumetric lights to the cars headlights to make it interact with the cg rain, and the final product is amazing.
July 12th, 2007 @ 4:02 pm
This is completely unrelated, but I think everyone will like it.

One of my favorite videos.
July 12th, 2007 @ 4:49 pm
Hey Andrew, in France they like holidays too, 5 weeks/year !
July 12th, 2007 @ 5:13 pm
hey andrew ,we can do this effect with video footage or a still ?
July 12th, 2007 @ 5:54 pm
at Mind drop studios-

Here is a link to the video showing how that articles subject was put together. Its really nicely done.

@ Bill Kelly
Very cool!
Some Guy
July 12th, 2007 @ 6:04 pm
@Bill Kelly:
Wow, thanks! Didn't expect such a detailed answer. The color grading is awesome. So you just masked your arms and adjust the curves? I thought it was something like a filter or a color preset, but it's just a lot of hard work. But it's worth it. It looks fantastic. And the rain sound fx enhance the realism.
July 12th, 2007 @ 6:39 pm
After seeing your screens i was playing with some things before your tutorial to see if i can mimic this effect. tell me what you think, also id like to see how you did it, if it was similar, and how i can expand on what i did. thanks :-) your stuff always great" rel="nofollow">" rel="nofollow">
July 12th, 2007 @ 6:44 pm

I'm sorry if this post seems redundant, but i didn't see my links so I'm trying to add them into this post, if they do show up after the "awaiting moderation" goes away i apologize again for the repost.
July 12th, 2007 @ 9:02 pm
oh thats gr8 stuff, really helps alot. Thankyou!

"Don’t shoot at night or this post won’t help" :-) hahhahhahahhahah
"u always give us some FUN StuFF Toooooo"

Anyways, Thnx & Regards

July 13th, 2007 @ 1:48 am
@ Tuxedokat I think it's pretty cool.

Seems a little to dark, to much black. I'd mess around more with the levels and try and bring back some high lights. Maybe tone down the saturation of the blue channel a little or increase it's brightness by a little as well.

Lights are pretty cool and star sky ain't bad either. Good progress!
Alexander Jansen
July 13th, 2007 @ 9:59 pm
Bah, tried some stuff. Just looks fake!
Alexander Jansen
July 13th, 2007 @ 10:23 pm
Any comments? The lights look abit fake but..
Alexander Jansen
July 13th, 2007 @ 10:27 pm
Andrew, if you could edit this post into the one above I would be greatful;
This is the original image:
: )
Kenneth Sebastian
July 14th, 2007 @ 1:04 am
Hey Andrew,
thank you for all those amazing tutorials which were so easy to understand and funny. I am from India, In the 12th grade..i made a movie called youth syndrome which has loads of special effects..and a lightsaber duel too ;)..The big problem in my movie was a night scene i filmed indoors (thankfully during dusk)...Please bring this tutorial out soon,it would be of great help....And i will Definelty mention your name and website when i release the movie in my school and on the net..

Thanks a lot,
Kenneth Sebastian
Riko FX
July 14th, 2007 @ 7:59 am
There is a an another tutorial for "day to night"" rel="nofollow">here!!!

Have a look!

Good evening!
November 7th, 2008 @ 10:12 am
thank you!
August 15th, 2010 @ 3:14 pm
plz send me this video tutorial
November 26th, 2010 @ 12:08 am
I used this in a film I shot last year.
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