SMOKE MACHINE Tips and Hints
Get more out of your
smoke machine for any application with these fun tips.
Haze rather than smoke
- By wafting or fanning smoke generated from your machine, you will
create a finely dispersed haze which will hang in the air more evenly
and pick out light beams. (It's not officially the haze that is
generated by proper haze machines)
Ducting - Using
ducting with your smoke machine slows the projection distance (or
'throw') of the smoke down and creates a very thick fog with less
movement. The particle size of the smoke is also greater due to
the particles merging together.
- Again, using a long length of ducting (preferably metal based)
you can attach one end to your smoke machine, and route the ducting
outside, curving back and forth as much as possible, in the snow.
Put the end of the ducting where you require, and you have a basic
fog chiller unit thanks to Mother Nature! Note: you need it to have
snowed/be snowing for this tip to work. It's also best to use a
quick dispersing fluid, as the fog isn't chilled to the temperature
a conventional fog chiller would, which therefore makes it rise
a lot sooner.
Dispersion system 1
- Seal off the end of a conventional length of ducting and pierce
holes throughout. Smoke will dissipate from the holes fairly evenly,
covering a greater area and being less conspicuous than without
Dispersion system 2
- Build a wooden box for which to pump smoke into and make several
holes. By using squirrel cage fans and ducting, you can pump smoke
to several areas of a building utilising just one machine. The smoke
will be nicely mixed in the air giving it a haze-like effect.
- By filling a room with so much smoke that you cannot see your
hand in front of your face, you'll notice that the acoustics of
the room change. If you speak or shout, it'll sound like you're
in an acoustically treated recording studio. Great for recording
voiceovers, as long as you don't mind editing out the coughs and
not being able to see the script!
- Check doors or windows for any draughts by filling the side of
the door or window that is blowing through with smoke. The smoke
will show you where the gaps are that are causing the draughts.
Fog chiller -
You can make a cheap fog chiller with a beer cooler carrier. Create
an smoke entry and a smoke exit hole, then fill with either water
ice or dry ice.
Double heavy fog power
- If your stage production has hired a heavy fog machine, you can
effectively increase the output by using another smoke machine just
under the smoke output vents of the chiller unit. Again, remember
to use very quick dispersing fluid, as the secondary smoke machine's
output isn't chilled as much as the other's.
Sea of smoke -
On stage, by locating 4 prism convex lamps with dark coloured gels
(dark blue/purple, etc.) at each corner of the stage on knee/waist
high stands all pointing into the centre of the stage, and filling
it with heavy fog, it creates a very mysterious effect which gives
the stage a watery texture.
Tornado - For
detailed instructions on how to build a great tornado effect in
your own home, follow the link on the links page. Instructions are
in English and Dutch.
Ultrasonic water misters
- are great little devices, now readily available from the most
unlikely of outlets. By using hot water, the mister will not only
create much more fog, but the fog will rise rather than staying
on the surface of the water.
If you've had a eureka moment with your smoke
machine, send us your tip and we'll publish it on this page!
This one from Jason in the USA:
Please don't try this unless you know what you're doing! We're not
responsible if anything happens!
On an inexpensive fog machine such as an Antari F-80 with a dead-band,
if the pump is hard-wired and connected to a lighting dimmer, you
can effectively create a variable output, continuously operating,
DMX controlled machine. It has one fatal flaw however. If the pump
is activated before the block has reached operating temperature,
there is no fail-safe to guard it against spitting out warm fluid.
This could easily be overcome by adding a correct "open on
rise" disc thermostat to the block and run one leg of the pump
power through it. This isn't a particularly elegant method, and
will void the machine's warranty, but in a pinch, it can be just
the right solution.