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fogger for night club lighting

night club fogger hazer

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#1 Stuart Allman

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 01:11 PM

What should I request if I need light streaks inside of a night club set.  I know that SAG limits what we can use and only certain types are safe to breathe for a long length of time (i.e. a whole production day).  We plan on having the robotic dance club type lights, but I would like to see the beam projected in the air like it's a smoked up euro night club.

 

Someone last night mentioned that there's a fogger and a hazer.  Is there a real difference?  If so, which one should I be looking at?  How about the fog juice type?

 

Stuart

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#2 Aidan Gray

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 04:06 PM

Generally for beams, you want to rent a hazer. The difference in terminology varies, but generally a hazer emits a diffused, smaller particle than a fogger, which emits a thick cloud. In the past I've found great success with the Reel EFX DF-50 and the Antari HZ-500. They're both food-grade mineral-oil based so they should be safe for use with SAG actors (they're approved by Actor's Equity). They both sip fluid so I wouldn't worry about extra liquid. The latter is DMX-controllable which is what you'll probably want to rent if you're operating intelligent fixtures because it's easiest to just throw it on a square-wave cycle to constantly turn on and off throughout the duration of the shoot. With any hazer, the best practice is to try and keep the room isolated and place a fan over the nozzle of the hazer to help disperse the haze. Depending on the size of your room, these might be slightly overkill (I generally use them for 800-2000 person theatres). In any case, the best place to rent a DF-50 would be from 4Wall Lighting and you might have to hunt around for a HZ500. 

 

Also let me know if you have questions on intelligent fixtures because those are usually a much larger PITA than hazers...


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#3 Stuart Allman

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 09:43 PM

I called around the local rental shops today and the quote for size robotic fixtures, controller, and hazer came back at just over $3600.  I didn't realize that each of those fixtures is about $10.5k each!  I'm looking for something that will work for high frame rate footage (120-180fps) without flicker.  Any suggestions on what I should be asking for?  The other problem with these is that we need an overhead light grid or some solid bases for the lights since they heads have a lot of momentum when they're swinging around.

 

The other option is the American DJ Tri-phase and Revo fixtures, but those don't move.  It's more "high school dance" than night club in my opinion.  However, those fixtures are 1/10th the cost to rent.

 

I also learned that we need to get someone trained in DMX control software.  The "auto" function of these lights operates on brightness and strobe effects, which seem like a no-no for getting consistent footage on a rolling shutter camera.

 

I keep telling the producer that it would be cheaper to use a night club after hours and hire in the house lighting person for the shoot.

 

Thanks for the suggestions Aidan.


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#4 Albion Hockney

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 09:44 PM

DF-50 is the standard depending on size you might want 2 or more

 

 

the biggest space I used a DF-50 was a gym with 15ft ceilings probably about a 25ft x 25ft area and it did pretty well....a 2nd one woulda made things easier though.


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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 09:47 PM

You can buy a cheap fogger for less than $50 online. Get your grips to wave some flags around to spread the smoke, and you're good to go.


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#6 Stuart Allman

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 10:12 PM

I looked through my quote from the local rental co today and sure enough, there's a DF-50 on the list.  It's going for $85/day locally.  We're on a pretty minimal crew, so the hazer might be the lower maintenance, more manageable solution.  They aren't giving me the resource to have a dedicated fogger-duty-dude/dudette.


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#7 Aidan Gray

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 01:40 AM

DF-50 is definitely a beast. Any blower fan (like this one) over the top of it between takes will do great things to the dispersion of the haze. 

 

As for your original comment about the moving fixtures, yeah... They aren't cheap. Most of them are HMIs (dedicated ballasts so I'm not sure how they'd act at high speeds...) which adds to it, but with 2-3 rotating gobo trays, a wide selection of beam effects, and CMY color mixing, its pretty easy to see where the cost comes from. I don't know what to recommend to you in terms of budget lighting as I'm used to Martin and Clay Paky fixtures, but.... In terms of story and realism, I've never been to a "nightclub" where there was a dedicated lighting console and operator for moving lights. If you want to go realistic, there is nothing wrong with going "high school dance". The only problem with going with budget lighting solutions is that its going to be difficult to rent the lights as they're not usually in high-demand. I would definitely recommend just finding a nightclub to shoot in. It'll be less of a headache for you and for the production. Rigging intelligent fixtures is a very complicated task and a skill-set that your average electrician might not have.


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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 01:44 AM

You could do most of your lighting with Par Cans (56 and 64s with MWF and gels) and then mix in a few automatic fixtures in there. Depending on how high speed you're going, flicker shouldn't be an issue; but consult your HMI Safe speeds for your shutter angle.
The thing is you really don't have to "see" most of the moving lights if you block it just right; to a few onverhead can cover you for most of it, and then a few on the floor to further sell the effect. Not ever club has crazy amount of DMX lighting.

 

you will want and need someone who can work a DMX board-- or if you want to you can try to take it upon yourself to learn some quick programming. I had to play with it while in college and while it wasn't the most logical thing in the world to me, I muddled through in a day or two.


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#9 Aidan Gray

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 12:16 PM

Piggybacking off of what Adrian said, for a smaller "nightclub", you could probably get away with micro-fixtures. I would look at Martin MAC 250s for spot lights and MAC101s for wash lights. These are as small as they really come and Martins are always incredibly reliable fixtures (and easy to source). With any moving light, try and find a console with dedicated ML control (ETC Element and ION or any High End Systems console). You really want to avoid having to manually address each DMX channel to an individual fader and controlling them that way (even though I've seen it done). The best way to quickly program a "cool" look would be to navigate to the "Effects" section. All lights have pre-programmed effects that are essentially look presets. It can be anything from moving the light in a figure 8 to strobing between colours and shapes. You can usually find a list of the effects online but it will also be included in the light profile on the console. 


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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 01:58 PM

Careful, though - a lot of intelligent lighting uses metal halide with magnetic ballasts, presenting flicker problems. Often there are specifically rated versions for film and TV work.

 

P


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#11 Aidan Gray

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 04:34 PM

Most modern moving lights are run off of an electronic ballast. Ballast specs can be found on the website of the manufacturer. All MAC series are run from electronic ballasts and I'm pretty sure Clay Sharpys and Washes are electronic as well. I know VariLite has several old-school fixtures still out there with magnetic ballasts so it's best to just research what you're renting. Moving lights lack ballast options (75hz flicker-free mode), but in a 60hz country, you should be fine shooting a moving electronic HMI at 120fps. When in doubt, the best thing to do is visit a rental house for a picture test before you place your rental order. Any serious rental house will kindly accommodate this request and work with you to get you what you need.  


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#12 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 08:37 AM

Something to note with foggers is their effect on smoke alarms. You can often set them off with even a small amount.  So either bag the alarms with plastic bags or remove the batteries if you can.  Then be sure to put them back. 


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#13 Stuart Allman

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 10:09 AM

Great advice.  Thank you all.  I'm in a very small market in San Diego, so my choices jump between Martin MAC 700's and American DJ tri-phase/revo lights when it comes to rental houses.  I've been telling the director and producer that we would be better off just finding a night club and paying their manager and AV person for a day, but I'm just the lowly DP dealing with two very artistic people who refuse to think/are in denial about technical problems.

 

One alternative I might explore is using fixed colored lighting and having a couple assistants wave around high brightness LED flashlights with a gel on it.  No, it doesn't look anywhere near the same, but I'm being penny pinched super-duper hard on this production.  The problem I face there is that there isn't any good location to hide the assistants in the shots without making all the shots tight.  The location is essentially a large industrial park garage bay, so the room is deep, but narrow.  Because of the build out of the space I have about 10ft to fit a dolly, the minimum focus distance on my lens, and 30 dancing people in front of a stage!...then shove lighting somewhere. 


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#14 Aidan Gray

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 01:11 PM

Something to note with foggers is their effect on smoke alarms. You can often set them off with even a small amount.  So either bag the alarms with plastic bags or remove the batteries if you can.  Then be sure to put them back. 

Definitely this. Get explicit permission from the venue to use haze effects and see if they can disable the fire alarms. This will require placing someone on fire watch but its usually easier than accidentally calling the fire dept. or setting off sprinklers. 

 

I'm in a very small market in San Diego, so my choices jump between Martin MAC 700's and American DJ tri-phase/revo lights when it comes to rental houses.

I can get 8 Mac700s for about $2600/week here in DC so it should be a relatively inexpensive rental for you. Usually regardless of the market, theres a modestly sized live lighting and sound rental house for special events/concerts. To me, the decision is pretty simple. If you have the spare cash to rent a console, definitely go with the Mac 700s. They'll give you much more output, flexibility, programming ability, and they're just beautiful fixtures. Otherwise, go with the Tri-phases as they have auto/sound activated modes. Beware of LED flicker from the Tri-phase as they are older LEDs and you'll almost definitely get flicker at HFR. Most shitty theatre LEDs have been problem free for me at normal frame rates until they're dimmed over DMX (because of PWM issues). Like I said before, the best thing to do is go and picture test your looks (they're also totally different).

 

The problem I face there is that there isn't any good location to hide the assistants in the shots without making all the shots tight.  The location is essentially a large industrial park garage bay, so the room is deep, but narrow.  Because of the build out of the space I have about 10ft to fit a dolly, the minimum focus distance on my lens, and 30 dancing people in front of a stage!...then shove lighting somewhere. 

This sounds like a truss job to me. If you can't afford truss, maybe look for sidelight booms and get a bunch of ballbuster sand bags to weight the stands down. Obviously, the rigging required for the Martins is going to be incredibly more intricate than the rigging required for the American DJ lights. I would propose these options to the producers as the "right" way and the "cheap" way of doing the effect, and get quotes to match. If they want examples, you can probably send them the demos from the American DJ and Martin YouTube pages... In my experience, this will let them seriously consider marginal cost and marginal benefit of each system.


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