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A Simple Guide To Fog Dispersion...
SECTION 1: The Purpose Of Fog
No matter how expensive your fog machine, no
label is on your fog fluid jug, the best fog machine and the best fluid
is worthless if it doesn't enhance your light show. That's the sole
definition of fog...to enhance your light show. Period. If it doesn't
do that, than you have wasted your money, effort and time.
Fog doesn't have to be a thick cloud that nobody
through to be effective. In fact, that thick cloud of fog usually
prevents your light beams from passing through and what good is that?
Sometimes you may want a sudden, huge, thick cloud of fog for a
dramatic moment, but most of the time you want steady, almost
unnoticeable fog in the air in front of your stage area so your light
beams are seen while passing through it and moving around.
SECTION 2: Fog Versus Haze
Although the first commercial machines on the
the late 60's and early 70's were "Fog" machines, the "Haze" machine
has been around almost as long in the theater industry.
Here's the major difference between a fog machine
and a true
haze machine: A fog machine vaporizes the fluid with heat and a haze
machine does it in a compression chamber without heat.
In a fog machine, the fluid is pumped through the
where it vaporizes and is forced out the front in it's vaporized state.
When the temperature of the heater core drops below the temperature
necessary to vaporize the fluid, the pump is disabled so you can't
shoot out hot liquid on the crowd.
In a haze machine, the fluid is pumped into an
chamber where an air compressor (similar to what you inflate your tires
with) blasts the fluid into a vapor, then a small fan blows that vapor
out the front of the machine. A haze machine never shoots out a thick
cloud like a fogger can. In fact, you rarely see haze in the
Since fog machines are drastically more popular
for the club
and DJ industry and since the name of this article is "About Fog
Dispersion", I will concentrate on fog instead of haze.
3: How And When Fog Came About
I remember the mid 70's, when the first Disco's
started using fog.
This was before there was such a thing as a "Mobile DJ". The more
affluent clubs had the only commercial fog machines on the market at
that time and they were made by Rosco in New York. The machines I
remember seeing first were the standard black square box with a hand
pump built in, similar to the hand pump on a yard sprayer. These more
affluent clubs had several of these fog machines spread around the
dance floor. They would fill them up before they opened and again
during the night if they used a lot of fog.
The less affluent
night clubs and a few bands that liked the look of the fog but couldn't
afford the expensive Rosco fog machines started using a converted yard
insecticide fogger that was available soon after the Disco craze began.
They had a white, round gallon jug on the bottom and the black heater
housing screwed on top of that. They were considerably less than the
commercial Rosco foggers and they worked really well. They even had one
huge advantage. They held a full gallon of fluid, so they didn't have
to be refilled during the night. The Rosco machines started coming with
a remote switch to turn the fog on, but you still had to pump up the
tank during the night. These cheaper converted yard foggers soon had a
remote switch available for them too.
Regardless of which style
of fogger you chose back then, fog was heavily used and loved. It
started with the Disco era, but continued long after that. Can you
imagine going to a concert today without fog? It would just be boring.
We are all used to seeing it. We expect it now. Fog is equated to
excitement and it works.
|SECTION 4: How To Get It Where You Want
One problem that has always been around is how to
get the fog exactly where you want it... When you want it
Step1: Clubs started with one fogger in the DJ
pointed it towards the middle of the dance floor. It was in the DJ
booth so it could be refilled easily during the night.
Step2: Big clubs started placing 2 to 4 foggers in
booth and aiming them at the center of the dance floor or toward
strategic areas that needed more fog. Battling air conditioner vents
and intakes was always frustrating. You could aim all 4 foggers toward
the left side of the club and if the air conditioner intake was on the
right side, it pulled the fog across the dance floor evenly. That
situation was ideal, but hard to find.
Step 3: To battle air flow from air conditioners
ventilation, some larger clubs started placing multiple foggers
throughout the dance area ceiling. Each would be aimed to cover a
specific area or to battle a specific problem like an air vent. The DJ
would have a switch for each fogger in his booth and he would press the
button for whichever fogger was needed to fill a light spot. The
downside was that someone had to climb up on a ladder every night to
fill each fogger.
5: Piping the fluid to each fogger
This next step was created by necessity. Having
foggers scattered around a club was the best answer so far for keeping
fog spread out evenly over a dance floor, but having to climb up
daily to fill them was a nuisance. So someone had the idea to keep a 55
gallon drum of fog fluid on the ground floor and pump it to each fog
machine via a small plastic tube. It was indeed a good
idea. Piping fluid to multiple foggers was the best idea
but it still
had it's downsides. Whenever a machine failed, you still had to get up
on a ladder and pull it down and put up a replacement.
|SECTION 6: Ducting The Fog
I saw the first fog ducting system in
80's. It was crude, but it worked very well. A local club owner had
gotten tired of battling the multiple fogger problem and the air flow
problem for years and decided to try buying one big fog machine to
leave in the DJ booth and he would duct the fog to many areas over the
dance floor and point the ducts down because that's where you want the
fog. He spent a few months tweaking his invention and the
results are described below.
7: The Fog Machine & The Distribution Box
Start out by getting the largest fog machine you
Since fog has moisture in it, you should not build the distribution box
out of wood. Most do it yourselfers use a jumbo ice chest. Cut a round
4" intake hole on one end and set the fog machine about 4 inches away
from this hole, aiming the fog into the intake hole. You have to set
the fog machine about 4 inches away from the intake hole because a fog
machine requires the output of the machine to mix with air to form the
|SECTION 8: The Distribution lines
You have to start out guessing how many
you will need to cover your area. Lets say 8 lines for this example.
You will cut eight 4" holes in the sides of the distribution box (ice
chest). If you just connect eight 4" distribution lines to this box,
the fog will not come out evenly. It may not come out at all. There are
two thoughts on how to force air through the distribution lines. One
way is to buy one big fan like the one inside your home air conditioner
and mount it inside this box to force the fog out ONE hole and into
another box that has the eight 4" distribution lines attached. The
other way is to mount all eight 4" distribution lines to this box and
mount a 4" box fan inside the box for each line attached. (Example; you
cut a 4" round hole in the side of the box and mount a 4" box fan
inside the hole to blow air out. You then attach your 4" distribution
line to the outside of this hole to carry the forced air out to the
Having seen both types of distribution box in
action, I prefer
the one with a 4" box fan per hole. It is quieter and more
Now what about these 4" distribution lines? You're
this. The best thing I've seen for this is the cheap, thin, black sewer
hose that comes in 100 foot rolls at Home Depot. They have two types.
One is totally enclosed and will only allow the fog to come out of the
end of it. The other type has tiny holes all over it and will allow the
fog to drift out all over it. You definitely want the enclosed tube to
carry the fog from the distribution box to the dance area. If you just
want to aim it down and have the fog come out, you're done. If you want
to connect a piece of the slotted tube at the dance area and run it
around the ceiling so fog drifts out lightly and spread out, try that.
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