How To Use a Fog Machine

A fog machine is used to emit a dense vapor to create a special effect for stage plays or presentations. It is very common nowadays.  Its effect to deliver a more surreal effect to the viewer with the use of a fog effect often makes them feel that they are the ones experiencing the situation. 

Basically used to enhance an eerie and suspenseful scene, the fog machine tries to make it frightening for the viewer.  There are two primary types of fog machines in the market today. 

Heated fogs type. It uses an inert gas to propel water fog mixture into a heat exchanger where vaporized into air it will create the smoke effect that you desire.  The fog fluid used in this machine usually thickens as it rises into the air.  Speed pumps also form part of the machine that regulates the flow of the fog liquid into the heat exchanger to emit the smoke or fog. 

Chilled fog machines.  The smoke or fog emitted by this machine usually stays on the ground and disappears as it floats upward.  The materials used to create this effect are usually dry ice, liquid nitrogen and liquid synthetic air.  The easiest to use would be the dry ice with the help of a fan that usually blows the dense smoke emitted to the area where you want it.  The chilled fog machines sometimes use a timer machine to signify when the effect for the scene should happen.  The dry ice or liquid nitrogen released at a specific time with the use of the timer will create a more effective result.  Chilled machines usually show the effect that the actor may be walking on a dense set of clouds. 

The process to use the fog machine is very easy to do.  Here is a systematic process to how to use one. 

  1. Fog machines used as a haze machine must be clear in the scene.  Take note of the desired time to create the effect that you want. 
  2. Choose the type of fog machine that you want.  To make it appear that the actors are walking on the fog, use the chilled type of fog machine.  The chilled ones commonly used do not cover any faces of the actors on stage.  This shows the emotions of the actors most clearly. 
  3. Make sure that if you use a timer machine for the effect it will be simultaneous to the scene.  Reset the timer if needed.  For some machines, a remote control may be available and will make the work easier for you.
  4. Design your lighting with the fog effect in mind.  Try to have a run through before the show to make a more complete effect that you want.  Lighting creates the dramatic flare that most directors want to have. 
  5. Practice with the fog machine.  This is to perfect the use of the machine and the timely effect that you may want. 

Most productions plays want to make the viewer feel that they are always part of the scene.  This dramatic smoke effect creates the sensation of the entire theatrical performance.  The uses of the fog machine are not limited to theater, using it for training of emergency personnel for fires and unclear weather conditions form part of its uses.  


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