January 30, 2018

Creative Ways to Put a Smoke Machine to Work on Your Film Set

A smoke machine alone is so boring. Time to gussy it up.

Smoke is a surprisingly effective cinematic tool when used correctly. It can turn a normal film set into a house of horrors. It can create a dreamy atmosphere for your audience to get lost in. It can bring depth to an otherwise flat and boring shot, as well as add dimension to your lighting. But if you've ever used a smoke machine before, you know that it's almost impossible to control what comes out of it.

In this video, Jordy Vandeput of Cinecom shows you not only how to customize an everyday $30 smoke machine to produce different types of smoke but also creative ways to put smoke to work in your projects. Check it out below:

Usually, when people think of cinematic uses for smoke or fog they think of a spooky cemetery scene in a horror film, but it actually plays a much more important role in cinematography. DPs use a substance called haze, which consists of finer liquid droplets than smoke, to diffuse light, soften shadows and highlights, and add depth to shots.

But what if you want to do all of the smokey effects but don't want to shell out $200 for a haze machine and $30 more for a smoke machine, as well as, I don't know, $100 for both types of liquids? Well, you can make do with your trusty (and super cheap) smoke machine if you know a few tricks. Here are the ones Vandeput mentions in the video:

  • Horror movie fog: If you to create a creepy cemetery vibe, feed the smoke from your smoke machine through a tube filled with ice. This will cool down the smoke, allowing it to come out thick, heavy, and low to the ground.
  • Smoke curtain:  Drill some holes in a PVC pipe to have more control over the distribution of your smoke.
  • DIY mist: Creating mist is as easy as blowing the smoke from your smoke machine through a fan. This will allow you to fill your set with a thin mist that will allow your light beams to appear much clearer.
  • Creative uses for smoke: Want to make something look super cold, like a freezer? Blow some smoke in there. Want to make something look smoking hot, like a sprinter's spikes? Blow some smoke in there. Want to make an interesting transition. Smoke it up!

What are some other creative applications for smoke? Let us know down in the comments.     

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Lazy content...

January 31, 2018 at 4:10PM, Edited January 31, 4:10PM

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Chris Kas
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