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Topic: Fog Machines
Message: Posted by: Daniel Faith (Jun 6, 2007 02:38PM)
I have one of those fog machines that they sell at Halloween time.
I have never used it but plan to. I plan to use it during stand up and stage performances. Not in someone's living-room.
My question is: In a moderate sized room, are there any issues with the fog
irritating the audience. Has anyone experienced anyone who was allergic?
Are there any precautions that I should take when using it?
I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has experience with fog machines.
Message: Posted by: AaronTheMagician (Jun 6, 2007 05:28PM)
At my "regular" job, we have a 4,000 Sq foot arena that we fill with fog. So, people are actually walking through it and such.
Out of about 10,000 people, only about 12 have ever really been bothered. It's seems to only bother people with very sensitive asthma or a lung condition such as Cystic Fibrosis, or other serious disorders.

Being on stage, where the fog is unlikely to travel into the audience at all, there is little concern.
If you wish to be extra safe, you could always post a disclaimer: "Fog in Use"
Message: Posted by: TV Magic Pal (Jun 6, 2007 09:43PM)
The liquid type right? Generally not too bad, but don't expect it to run very long! They are sold to make it through a holiday season... and that's about it!
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jun 7, 2007 09:54AM)
Equity did a study of fog for actors that you can read here:

In Canada, SHAPE also did one for the crew and performers in the Vancouver movie industry:

There are others as well with findings that range from 'no problem' to 'limited exposure'.

In a two hour or so stage situation (as opposed to a movie situation with multiple takes) it's unlikely that there are any seriously negative effects.....although NONE of the studies come right out and say it's OK to stick your face in the fog and breathe deeply.

The link to the SHAPE study above is just the summary....if you fish around their web site you'll find the entire study. It's the most comprehensive study ever undertaken specifically to do with theatrical fog and just how safe it is to breathe into your lungs.
Message: Posted by: cardcaptor (Jun 7, 2007 05:45PM)
In my condition, theres no reported issues regarding the use of my fog machines, I'm also using the liquid type machine and I don't experience any incidents that audience is irritated.

Message: Posted by: Daniel Faith (Jun 9, 2007 09:38AM)
Thanks everyone for the responses.
Silverking I really appreciate the links on the studies.
I do use the liquid type fog machine. I didn't know they would be so short lived.
What can I expect for such a cheap price though.
Thanks again all.
Message: Posted by: BondJames628 (Jun 10, 2007 05:46PM)
I don't believe there have been any proven cases that confirm liquid-based fog is an allergen, but I could be wrong. Most of the time, when an audience member complains about not being able to breath or becomes short of breath while walking through/sitting in theatrical fog, it's not necessarily their asthma acting up, or them being allergic to the chemicals in the fog, it's simply their mind telling them they are in smoke, and they begin to react; in other words it's psychological. For instance, if you stand in the smoke that's given off while burning leaves, you can't breath, you cough, your eyes burn, you become short of breath, or a combination of these. If we're not used to being in theatrical smoke, our minds associate it with these real-life applications and tend to react to it in the same way we would if were standing in a brush fire's smoke. Just my two cents from a few years of experience. Good luck!

-Taylor Fox
Message: Posted by: abrell (Jun 10, 2007 07:46PM)
The studies (see the links in the post of Silverking) concerning health risks because of fog have been necessary because of a lot of serious health problems that have occurred in the past. A short time use should not be a problem (when you did not forget to care about the smoke detectors!), but please always have in mind:
1. Most fog machines use mineral oil. Breathing aerosols of mineral oil is not healthy for your lungs. Trained singers feel that immediately although the lung has no nerves which transmit pain. Also all clothes and props get oily - so you will have to wash and clean them. This maybe is a problem for all your silks. It is completely unacceptable for precious music instruments made from wood (antique violin).
2. The fog machines use heat to produce that smoke. The chemist would call that an incomplete combustion. This is known to produce a lot of toxic substances; it is nearly impossible to detect them all and monitor them.

Some years ago I was working in the TV business as a stage manager. The company was producing a show with maximum amounts of fog constantly for a complete week and 10 hours work a day. There were several members of the crew with serious health problems and there was a investigation about it. The problems have been: strong irritations of nose, throat and eyes, feeling sick and weak, problems with breathing. Immediately it was found out that the German administration had not released any regulations for fog from fog machines in air. Everything ended in telling: There are no regulations, so when nothing is forbidden, we can proceed. Then I did some research and found the US regulations and the study of Equity Actors Union. I made some copies and gave them to the team members with the health problems and told them to go immediately to a lung specialist (because of having breathed aerosols and incomplete burned mineral oil), because all were caring for the problems at nose, eyes and throat only until that moment. These lung specialists were shocked and advised them to immediately change the job. A lot of the team members were freelancers, so this was possible for them. I myself had to be in that "smoke chamber" 4 times a day for 5 minutes each and so it was no problem for me; but I was wishing we would have had a union that could have helped the others.

Kai Abrell
Message: Posted by: silverking (Jun 11, 2007 12:17PM)
On 2007-06-10 18:46, BondJames628 wrote:
I don't believe there have been any proven cases that confirm liquid-based fog is an allergen....
If you check out the SHAPE study I linked to above, you'll find that they discovered 'reduced lung function' in folks who were exposed to theatrical fog over time.

'Reduced lung function' certainly implies something is happening.
Message: Posted by: Fitz (Jun 12, 2007 11:24PM)
Most fog machines availible today actually run off of "water based fog fluid" made with Glycol Alcohol.

Just a few other things to keep in mind

If the room you are in uses particle detectors you will most likeley set them off.

You may need to meet with a fire marshal before you can use a fog or haze machine and they will want the MSDS for the fluid you are useing. Yes I have had this happen for a show I was teching.

It is possible in some venues to shut smoke detectors of but you will need permission from the fire department to do this.

I don't want to scare you away from using fog these are just a few of the many things you should think about when using fog. If you do decide to take that step and use fog, you should save up and buy a good fog machine. This one is the BEST in my opinion http://looksolutionsusa.com/ViperNTSpec.pdf its the one I use at hallowen.

Message: Posted by: Dark Magi (Jun 13, 2007 09:43PM)
I have seen a number of recipes to make your own 'Fog Juice' For what you pay and the risks you take, it is not worth it. Rather buy it I have found that the fluid is readily available in most disco equipment supply stores.
Apart from needing to get smoke detectors turned off or replaced for heat detectors I have generally had no problems with it where possible I try and get a notice published in the program that fog and lighting effects are in use during the performance. Make sure you have covered your Ace and taken all possible precautions.
Message: Posted by: curtgunz (Jun 20, 2007 09:57PM)
The company "Look Solutions" mentioned two posts up from this one, sells a 1)quick, 2)regular and 3)slow dispersing fog fluid. I am guessing that the longer lasting the fog, the more petroleum based it will be.

My question is, can the "long lasting fog" be used in the cheap Halloween type machines? And if so, what is the best long lasting fluid to use, considering cost, availability, smell, long lasting, thick white smoke, etc.?
Message: Posted by: curtgunz (Jun 20, 2007 10:35PM)
Also, I found this link. It looks like it would work very well with a slow dispersing fog fluid.

Message: Posted by: curtgunz (Jun 22, 2007 02:34AM)
Message: Posted by: Fitz (Jun 24, 2007 01:36PM)
For affordable low fog just buy a fog cabin from theatre FX. http://www.theatrefx.com/store/commerce.cgi?product=low_lying_foggers Its not too much more than if you made one of these your self, and I did that first but ended up tossing it once I got the fog cabin they have done a lot to it. It is still made from a cooler but they have added many cool little things to just make it work better.

Low fluid or regular fluid??? I would use regular fluid... I tried low fluid and I think it actually started to clog my machine. (Look Solutions Viper NT) The regular fluid worked very well and during Halloween the combo could fog up my whole street.

Message: Posted by: Kline (Jun 26, 2007 05:49PM)
Regardless od"low" or "regular" fluid, your machine should be cleaned on a regular basis -simply run distilled water through the lines in the machine.

If you are looking for the cloud effect, simply blast your fog through ice - there are several machines on them arket that use this method - however, regular ice melts and the result is water - a pain in the ass to remove form the center of the stage ( where your fogger should be pplaced regardless ) - try dry ice - it evaporates thus no mess.

The best part of the regular ice machines - having a few cold beers chilled for after the show !
Message: Posted by: Fitz (Jun 26, 2007 09:18PM)
Cleaning will depend on your fog machine, some manufacturers say to never clean your machine. Read your manual and see what they say...