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Judging Atmosphere


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#1 Travis Cline

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 06:39 PM

Sorry if this thread has been done before, but I couldn't find any. I am shooting a film soon in which the director wants to use a bit of atmosphere on set. I have not used atmosphere all that often, but this project justifies its use since the main character is constantly smoking a pipe. We are shooting on 35mm and i'm not sure yet what kind of machine we'll be using to smoke up the sets. My question is, is there a good way to judge when the atmosphere is the same level that is was in previous shots? I am worried about matching the amount of atmosphere from shot to shot. In the past I have just done it by eye, but it was never very exact. Is this just a draw back to shooting with smoke? Do I just need to get better at judging this by eye? Any tips would be helpful. Thank you.


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#2 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 06:46 PM

There are complicated smoke processors that measure the density of the smoke, but you don't want to get into all that. Best is to simply judge by eye, like you have done. Long lens work normally needs a bit less smoke, whereas wide angle lenses need a bit more. It's just best to judge every setup individually.

Normally I use a cracked oil machine (also called a hazemaker in some places) here in England. It lets out a fine mist of smoke that spreads evenly and can be left on for some time. In the US they simply call all machines that emit smoke, smoke machines - they make no distinction between the two. But try to avoid the normal puff-puff, disco type smokers - they need excessive wafting to get the smoke even and smell foul.
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#3 Nick Mulder

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 07:11 PM

yip, a hazer would be the go, If you are worried I'd use a digital stills camera, have you searched for books/sites with fun facts on continuity methods ?
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 07:35 PM

In the US they simply call all machines that emit smoke, smoke machines - they make no distinction between the two.


That's not true, at least in my experience. There are "foggers" and there are "hazers." At some point someone gets specific about what machine/effect is needed. The DF-50 is a common hazer, and is often specified. A "Mole fogger" or "party fogger" is more the puff-puff kind. Cough cough. :P

One trick I try to use with hazers is to go for as little effect as possible. I find that when it's extremely light it's easier to judge consistency, and mask continuity errors.
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#5 Travis Cline

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 03:47 PM

Thanks for the help. I have used the cracked oil type machine before and you're absolutely right, they are much more even. I guess I'll just have to train my eye a little better.


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