Smoke/fog and haze machines are a really fun part of our equipment stock. They can give images a dramatic, emotional appearance, and are relatively simple to use. However, there are a few things to know before trying one out for the first (or second) time. We’ve put together a series of video how-tos to take you through the basics of achieving your desired look.
Smoke machines produce varying amounts of smoke and fog – usually dependent upon the amount of power of the unit. In confined studio spaces, a lot of smoke is unnecessary. On the other hand, large or outdoor areas tend to require a powerful option to avoid smoke dispersing too quickly.
Smoke, fog, haze – what’s the difference? There are three main types of machines that produce different effects: Smoke / fog machines, low-lying / ground fog machines, and haze machines.
Smoke/Fog machinesA general smoke or fog machine will produce just that. The units listed below are straight-forward to use and their power can be adjusted to allow for some control over levels of smoke/fog output (the video demo shows them at maximum output). The smaller machines can run for several minutes continuously but then need to be reheated before being used again – indicated by a warning light on the switches.
Larger smoke/fog machines, on the other hand, are capable of much longer periods of operation. But be careful when/where to use these bigger units – their levels of output cannot be reduced as much and can be too much in some cases.
Power Tiny 400w
Our only hand-held battery-powered machine, this is perfect for location and distributing powerful, thick jets of fog
Antari Alpha F80z
This unit produces light fog that we find best-suited for small- to medium-size spaces
Martin Magnum 650
With this unit, you’ll get a thick, powerful jet of fog, ideal for quick spurts that can fill a small- to medium-size space
If you need heavy fog to fill up a medium- to large-size space, this is a great unit
This unit is our most powerful. It produces a thick, heavy fog that will easily fill a large area
Low-lying fog machinesAntari Ice Z Series
Simply put, heat rises. Smoke and fog will disperse and rise depending on temperature. To create smoke, fluid is first passed through a heating element. To produce a low-lying, creeping type of fog that stays low to the ground, smoke must be cooled. Our Antari Ice Z Series smoke machines are particularly good at this.
Just fill the large holding compartment with household ice right before shooting. Without the ice, the unit behaves similarly to the 310 or 1900 machines and creates generic smoke instead of the low-lying effect.
An alternative is to use dry ice machines – although these require specialist transportation and safety consideration as they are considered hazardous. We wholeheartedly recommend the Antari Ice Z series and have found it more than adequate for our clients’ requirements.
Haze MachinesCirro Mist Haze Machine
Different to smoke/fog machines, haze machines fill an area with an almost invisible sheen that allows you to catch shafts of light. They are commonly used on stage so that a follow spot can be better seen. Depending on the size of the space, haze machines commonly take between 15 and 25 minutes to fully fill an area. So, plan accordingly! Our time lapse video gives you a better idea, demonstrating how beams and shafts of light gradually come into view as the space begins to fill with haze.