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class="style7"> Smoke Machine For Outdoor Use

>Published : 15th April 2008

>Hi all

>I have an exterior scene to shoot coming up - its a night fantasy scene shot in Washington DC on the steps used in the exorcist.

>The director wants to have a similar effect that was used in the poster for the movie shot at the front of the house with the beam of light coming from the upstairs window backlighting the smoke.. He wants that same effect on the stairs.

>What smoke machine can people recommend to cover this vast distance and not dissipate before the shot is over. Would we need more than one smoke machine also?

>are shooting on the 27H VariCam. Also power might be an issue.

>Thanks as always

>Matthew Woolf
Director of Photography
917 399 9565
www.woolfpictures.com
Agent: Pipeline
NY: 212 372 7506
LA: 310 402 5130


>The proper way to do this would be to tell your production to hire an FX guy.

>He will come with a smoke machine and a hundred feet of large plastic hose. He will perforate the hose so that the smoke is evenly distributed over a large area. He would also be wise to get a large fan. (These will require power).

>If you need a poor mans process then an Artem smoke machine can produce copious amounts of smoke, but it needs to be evenly distributed, and it maybe windy.

>Daniel Bronks
DP
UK


Hi Matthew,

Spreading smoke over large outdoor distances is dicey, because you need fairly still air. That said, one of the best ways I've done this is by attaching the smoke machine to the end of a long plastic tube that goes through the set, and you poke holes in the tube to make the smoke come out all along where it's running.

>The tubing needs to be black, and it comes in a long roll (300' I think). It's basically black visqueen, but in tube form (10 or 12" diameter?). You can usually get this stuff from an FX house. Attach one end to an FX Fan and tie the other end off. Put a smoke machine (Roscoe F100 or similar) behind the fan, which will inflate the tube, and poke holes along the tube to let out smoke. If it's a long run, you might put a fan and smoker at both ends, or have multiple tubes.

>Running this tubing so it's not in frame can be tricky, but usually it's placed behind a ridge or in a ditch or whatever. By getting black and not clear, your lights won't light up the smoke inside the tube.

>Again, this is typically an FX department job, but you can get supplies from their shops.

>Best,

>Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com


>Swingfog, good German technology. Back in the days as an FX Guy we used them all the time outside since they are the only machine that can produce serious amounts of fog. At night, it is amazing how much the wind can change and laying a rig may be totally useless, no sooner have you laid the rig than the wind changes.

>The swingfog is very noisy but can be cut quite quickly. In fact they have improved the delivery and they now have some serious "Kick Ass" machines. There is something rebellious about SFX half a mile upwind with an AD shouting cut smoke or more smoke. Shall I ignore him.

>Running fog may sound easy however it ain't. If you want the job done well hire a good FX guy (not a standby props who says he can do it)

>Jon "I used to blow things up" Armstrong
Adelaide Australia


>Swingfog, good German technology. Back in the days as an FX Guy we used them all the time outside since they are the only machine that can produce serious amounts of fog. At night, it is amazing how much the wind can change and laying a rig may be totally useless, no sooner have you laid the rig than the wind changes.

>The swingfog is very noisy but can be cut quite quickly. In fact they have improved the delivery and they now have some serious "Kick Ass" machines. There is something rebellious about SFX half a mile upwind with an AD shouting cut smoke or more smoke. Shall I ignore him.

>Running fog may sound easy however it ain’t. If you want the job done well hire a good FX guy (not a standby props who says he can do it)

>Jon "I used to blow things up" Armstrong
Adelaide Australia


>Matthew Woolf wrote:

class="style8">>>I have an exterior scene to shoot coming up - its a night fantasy scene >>shot in Washington DC on the steps used in the exorcist.

>Keep in mind that the poster is a still shot. You and the director -- and SFX people -- should watch the shot in question together to be certain that you're all on the same page and that what you're trying to give him is what he wants. And that you're not making a lot more work than is necessary. In the actual shot in the film, there was quite a bit of breeze blowing the smoke/fog around, which while making the fog obvious, in this case, it adds to the effect. From my recollection of the scene, it looks like it was done rather low tech with a couple of hand held foggers.

>BTW, if the Exorcist steps you are talking about are the steps that are supposed to be adjacent to Chris MacNeil's (Ellen Burstyn) home, fogging them is fairly easy since they are totally enclosed, except for the top and bottom. If you are talking about the stairs that Fr. Karras (Jason Miller) walks down on his way to the exorcism, they are at Georgetown University and in the actual shot, there was little fog on the steps themselves. Most of the fog was background behind Jason Miller at the top of the stairs.

class="style8">>>What smoke machine can people recommend to cover this vast >>distance and not dissipate before the shot is over.

>None of the shots in 'The Exorcist' encompassed any vast distances at all, which is why you should watch the film with the director. Most of 'The Exorcist' was quite confined. A standard Mole ram-jet or Igeba fogger should give you more than enough smoke -- provided that if there is a breeze, you are willing to accept some movement of the fog.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Matthew,

One technique I've worked with for creating a "haze" though it may not be heavy enough for a fog effects is smoke pans. I've most often worked with this on period projects (I'm in Virginia after all) where I've needed a curtain of "haze" that looks as though it's from campfire or cannons.

>These are typically steel dishes burning a mixture of charcoal briquettes with starter logs, wood chips ect, most often soaked in some form of flammable liquid. If you let it burn you get dark black smoke, if snuffed and left to smoulder they emit a thinner grey smoke.

>This look great in back light and has more "weight" that some smoke juice so don't immediately break-up with a shift of the wind.

>Main advantage is that there is no electric required so pans can be shuffled around as the wind changes direction. I've found that the trade off of producing less volume of smoke is more than made up in having the ability to precisely place the smoke, most often right in frame if you can get the diffusion/dispersion correct.

Having more "points" the smoke is coming from keeps it from looking sourcey.

>Typically fx crew of two or three can handle 10-12 pans at a time while having new ones loaded up for continual shooting. I work with several experienced fx guys that are local to your shoot, feel free to contact me if interested.

I thought the house and the stair were at different locations?

Stephen Lyons
Virginia
804.339.3300


>Far be from me to teach my grandma how to suck eggs but this is a good recipe for smoke trays.

>Get a steel wheelbarrow and fill it with BBQ starters usually a granulated mixture of coal and coke/charcoal. An hour before shoot, fire it up and get it going.

>Use some heavy steel trays (a big Wok will do well) If you like, you can put legs on them but I prefer pads of Kaowool. Put the trays in place and then trundle around with your wheelbarrow. Shovel the glowing BBQ charcoal into each one.

>To make the smoke, use Chinese Gum Rosin normally this is used in rosin core solder and believe it or not leg wax. It is available from a variety of industrial chemical suppliers.

>Normally, the rosin is in solid lumps but we did one of two things, either break it up by hand which I would only recommend for someone I truly hate or, get an old cement mixer and grind out the paddles so that it is clear inside. load the chunks of rosin in toss in a canon ball 6 pound will be about right. tie a bag over the mouth, start the machine and go across town for a drink (It's a very noisy creature)

>The powder is sprinkled over the charcoal and the smoke is incredibly dense but dissipates quickly but is sticky which means it hangs better.

>Any way, FX guys have been given grief since the beginning of the industry. They are the drummers of the industry but Gee some of them are bloody clever.

>Jon Armstrong
Adelaide Australia
Former FX guy until I got sick of being blamed for everything that slowed the shoot


>Matthew,

>One technique I've worked with for creating a "haze" though it may not be heavy enough for a fog effects is smoke pans. I've most often worked with this on period projects (I'm in Virginia after all) where I've needed a curtain of "haze" that looks as though it's from campfire or cannons.

>These are typically steel dishes burning a mixture of charcoal briquettes with starter logs, wood chips ect, most often soaked in some form of flammable liquid. If you let it burn you get dark black smoke, if snuffed and left to smoulder they emit a thinner grey smoke.

>This look great in back light and has more "weight" that some smoke juice so don't immediately breakup with a shift of the wind.

>Main advantage is that there is no electric required so pans can be shuffled around as the wind changes direction. I've found that the trade off of producing less volume of smoke is more than made up in having the ability to precisely place the smoke, most often right in frame if you can get the diffusion/dispersion correct.

>Having more "points" the smoke is coming from keeps it from looking sourcey.

>Typically fx crew of two or three can handle 10-12 pans at a time while having new ones loaded up for continual shooting.

>I work with several experienced fx guys that are local to your shoot, feel free to contact me if interested.

>I thought the house and the stair were at different locations?

>Stephen Lyons
Virginia USA