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Getting hazy?

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Todd Terry
Getting hazy?
on Oct 31, 2011 at 3:37:21 pm

I'll ask this in both lighting and cinematography, as it applies to both...

So... I went in to the studio this weekend to dig out our rarely-used smoke/fog machine, for some Halloween shenanigans planned at my house tonight... when I finally found the fog machine, it was stored right next to two Chauvet haze machines that I had managed to completely forget that we even owned.

That lead me to question, "Hmmm... why don't we ever use these anymore?"

Years ago long before I was a wanna-be movie director I was a wanna-be actor. One of the gigs I regularly did was on a NBC show in the early 90s called "I'll Fly Away." I didn't know much about lighting or cinematography way back then, but it was all still fascinating to watch. Anywho, the star of the show was Sam Waterston as a southern district attorney. Anytime we would shoot a scene in Sam's DA office, the crew would always haze the set like crazy... which gave a very beautiful "thickness" to the air, nicely caught the shafts of "sunlight" coming in through the windows, and just gave the images a very nice look. I think it also helped with the period look of the scenes, which were set in the late 1950s.

I had completely forgotten about that, until I saw the haze machines yesterday. I've been on hundreds of shoots since that series, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone haze a set since then.

It just got me wondering, "Does anyone ever do that anymore? Pros? Cons?"

It's certainly one of those techniques that had completely fallen out of my head, but I was thinking of picking it back up now and then... when appropriate.

Thoughts anyone?

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Getting hazy?
on Oct 31, 2011 at 7:04:23 pm

Style wise, it isn't used that often except for special cases, and for music vids, I suppose. Does it use the glycol based "safe" fluid, or real oil?

Oh man, and now I'm flashing back to the smoke machine scene from "Living In oblivion".


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Todd Terry
Re: Getting hazy?
on Oct 31, 2011 at 7:17:25 pm

Well, the machines we have use the "safe" fluid. I wouldn't let the oil-based stuff within a hundred yards of most of my equipment... especially lenses.

I'm not talking about gallons of fog pouring through a music video... but just a very faint almost-invisible non-moving haze in the room...softening deep backgrounds (not blurring or defocusing, but softening), and picking up light shafts, etc. The look is very prevalent on things these days such as procedural crime dramas, etc... but I was curious as to whether anyone was actually using real hazers anymore. As I said, ours have been sitting unused for years (I should check to see if they still work), but have been thinking of trying some scenes with them again.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick Wise
Re: Getting hazy?
on Oct 31, 2011 at 7:23:26 pm

Todd, the two problems with these smoke machines are: it is difficult to match densities and health.

Densities: it is very difficult to keep the same concentration hanging in the air over several takes. Further, when you move the camera close you have to increase the density or the next shot will look like there's less smoke/fog. Visual continuity becomes extremely tricky, and you are left remembering what the previous shot looked like. With video, there's a possibility of playback and matching that way -- very time consuming and invites many kibitzers, especially producers and the like. Even more time spent.

Health: I don't buy "safe." I always wore a gas mask, which was awkward. I also insisted the production provide them for the crew.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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