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Create a Rippling Water Effect for Your Video Without any Water

Fake it so you can make it
Photo of fake water effect

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon poolside you’ve probably experienced the visual beauty of the sun hitting the water and sending a ripple effect across someone’s face. Luckily you don’t need a beautiful poolside location to replicate this cool lighting effect in your own videos.

Creating simulated rippling water is actually something you can do with a single light, some Rosco thin silver, and the help of an assistant. Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut demonstrates how you can fake the look using a few simple tools in a new video published by Filmmakers Academy at the bottom of this post.

For best results you will want to mount a sheet of the thin silver onto a frame or flag, but loosely enough that you can still manipulate the lightweight plastic with your hands. Once you’ve mounted your thin silver, you will want to hit it with a light source and undulate the silver between your fingertips to create the effect.

If you are behind the camera, it’s helpful to have an assistant to work the thin silver so you can stay focused on how the effect is looking in frame. Looking for something more dramatic? Hurlbut suggests lining a large darkroom tray or a shallow storage tub with the thin silver for harder shadows and more defined ripples.


Ultimately, we think this is a great DIY lighting tip to replicate that dancing water effect without ever having to leave the house. Check out the video below to see how you can use this in your own video projects.

If you’re looking for more tips, tricks and techniques for capturing professional looking video, here are three ways to shoot better handheld footage and six tips on shooting video in a small space.

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