How to shoot a car scene
Shooting a car scene can be done by actually shooting the car while driving or you could fake it. And we did the latter. There are multiple ways to fake a car ride. The first thing you need is of course a car. Next up is placing your car in an environment where you have full control over the lights and background. We placed our car in our studio for example but of course you can also do this in your garage.
Essential to making a car ride believable is the background that is shown through the windows and if you shoot during the night you have to add street lights that you pass by. If you’re shooting a daylight scene and you want to fake the background you can either place a well lit green screen behind the windows (keep in mind that it’s always best to lit your green screen separately so the light of the green screen doesn’t spill on you subject). Once you’ve keyed out the green in post production you can add a stock clip or a shot of a moving road that you’ve shot separately. Important when adding this is the blur of the clip. The background can’t be in focus when your subject is so make sure to put some thought into that. Another way of faking a background is by placing a white cloth behind the window and projecting a clip on there. We’ve done this in the past and it actually works great!
If you’re struggling with matching the lights of the background and the interior or if matching the green screen to the subject you can always color grade it more darker, turning it into a evening or night scene.
Faking a night scene
When you are not able to actually shoot at night you are going to need to fake it. You can either do this by color grading it more dark and blue but that may look a bit too fake so what we recommend is shooting a garage or studio and use multiple light sources to get the feeling of streetlights and dashboard lights but keep everything else dark. Aputure actually made a great video about that.
First plan ahead on which kind of road you want to drive, if it’s a highway you need passing cars, streetlights and a bit of moon light. If it’s an offroad drive, you probably only need moonlight and if you’re driving in a big city you will also need ambiance light from stores, streetlights, red lights, … A last tip that I can give, which we also did, is to fake a car driving behind you. To fake the headlights, put two of the same light sources on a stick and let someone hold it horizontally.
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this article you can use stockclips to fake a car ride. Well you can get these and thousands of others from Storyblocks. It’s an online library with both HD and 4K footage, overlay, light leaks, customizable After Effects templates and so much more. You have to pay only one price per year to get unlimited downloads so it’s definitely something that I recommend using.