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Posts Tagged ‘haze’

Take Your Stage Into the Woods

The Baker and The Baker's Wife venturing Into the Woods
Disney’s recent adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods for the big screen not only performed well at the box office, it’s also poised to capture three Oscars this weekend – including nominations for Dennis Gassner, Production Designer and Anna Pinnock, Set Decorator in the category of Best Production Design of a Feature-Length Film. Being that Into the Woods is continually one of the top-ten most produced musicals in the world – we thought we’d take a closer look at some of the scenic elements of their feature film as an inspiration for your stage production.

Designing the Woods

Disney released this wonderful behind-the-scenes featurette that interviewed Gassner along with some of his fellow filmmakers, about the choices they made. The most important quote in the featurette came from John DeLuca, one of the producers of the film: “we needed to be in the woods, but we also knew we needed to build sets and had to be inside as well. To control our world.” So, even though this was a movie and some of the shots could, and were, filmed outside, they decided to build a forest on stage – much in the same way you will if and when you decide to mount this production on your stage. Here are a few tips that will allow you to take inspiration from what the filmmakers created on H Stage at Shepperton Studios and apply them onto your stage.

See the Woods Through the Trees

The Baker and Little Red Riding Hood in front of a large tree on set

The first thing you’re going to need if you’re going to create the woods is trees. Not just any trees, mind you, but trees that come to life when they’re lit and interacted with onstage. After all, the woods are just as much a character in this show as The Witch, The Baker or Jack – everyone sings about them and *spoiler alert* they even have their own traumatic death scene at the hands (feet?) of giants. So, the trees of your woods should be as lifelike as you can possibly make them. Lucky for you, we have a previous post showcasing how Peter Miller, Scenic Design Faculty at Rutgers University, uses our coating products to create three-dimensional foliage – and you can find it right here.

Mist of the Woods

The Witch & The Baker in the mist of the woods
According to production designer, Dennis Gassner, one of the goals of the film was to create a “heightened surreality, combining reality and fantasy.” One of the ways the filmmakers accomplished this magical surrealism in the film was to capture the beams of light streaming through the trees. Hazers, like Rosco’s new V-Hazer, are an excellent choice for adding magical mist to your set. The resulting, beam-catching haze will give your performers a visceral tool they can use to make the woods feel more otherworldly while enveloping the audience in your world of the woods.

Spirited Lighting Effects

Meryl Streep as The Witch in Disney's Into the Woods
Now that you’ve added haze in the air, let’s talk about the kind of lighting that’s entering the space. Cinematographer Dion Beebe says that he tried to create a “sense of magic in the lighting.” One of the ways you can magically bring your woods to life is to add some movement to the light streaming through the trees. Don’t go so far as to turn your stage into a forest-themed discotheque, but subtle motion created by breakup gobos and a gobo rotator or light from our X24 Effects Projector will add a kinetic breath into your scenery. Don’t be afraid to have the pace of the movement and, let’s not forget about the color of the light, change to convey the mood of the scene you’re in. A deep purple base with streaks of cyan slowly rippling through the haze of a wooded set would create a hauntingly beautiful stage image.

Bring the Whole Fogging Thing Down to the Ground

Chris Pine stars as Prince Charming in Disney's Into the Woods

“Then in the 3rd Act we destroy the woods. What we came up with, visually, was to sort of cover it in a blanket of fog. So, suddenly you were disoriented in the space.” Dion Beebe’s right, not only do you need to find a way to build a beautiful wooded set – you also need to figure out a way to have it destroyed by giants. So, as you’re building your stunning, three-dimensional foliage, give some thought as to how you’re going to quickly and safely knock it all down. Take a cue from Mr. Beebe and obscure the destruction in a sea of fog. Machines like our new Vapour Fog Machine can fill your stage with fog quickly. You might also consider mounting a Vapour Plus Fog Machine vertically behind one of the breaking trees to create pandemonium with upward bursts of fog. In either case – make sure to use a quick-dissipating fog fluid like Stage and Studio so that you can blanket your stage in fog for the destruction, but have it clear out relatively quickly afterward.

Hopefully, these tips have served as inspiration for you and allow you to say (sing?) “I Know Things Now” – and may they help you bring your audience Into the Woods.

Photos by: Peter Mountain. ©2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. via the Into The Woods Facebook Page




1. Show Off Your Awesome Beams of Light

Whether you’re lighting inside a nightclub, a theatre with a few hundred seats or Madison Square Garden, the Rosco V-Hazer provides reliable, smooth haze to capture beams of light to build illuminated texture on any stage.

2. Create Special Effects for Theatre

Using fog on stage is great for obscuring scene changes, concealing an entrance or exit from the stage or creating a visceral mood to wow an audience – and the features inside the Vapour Fog Machine allow it to meet the demands of any production. Sometimes, the fogger needs to be located in tight quarters, such as underneath a platform or inside a piece of scenery. The compact size of the Mini-V Fog Machine makes it the perfect solution for placing a fog machine wherever a scene needs it. All four of the Vapour Series machines have been tested for use in professional theatrical productions and are included under the Equipment-Based Guidelines of the Equity-League Pension and Health Trust Funds.

3. Create Special Effects On-Camera

Whether you’re shooting a feature film, a television show, a music video or a commercial, special effects help create the right atmosphere for the actors and build the world where the story is being told. The continuous operation of the Vapour and the next-to-silent operation of the V-Hazer make both of them an excellent choice for keeping soundstages filled with fog and haze. In a world of “we’ll add it in post,” creating fog effects with a Rosco Vapour fog or haze machine is still the most cost-effective process because a similar effect can be difficult and expensive to lay in digitally. All four of the Rosco Vapour machines comply with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Safety Bulletin #10.

4. Add Spooky Atmospherics Into Haunted Houses & Mazes

There’s nothing scarier than the fear of the unknown, especially when there really is a monster hiding in a cloud of fog right around the corner! The Vapour not only runs continuously to fill haunts and mazes, but it’s also designed with easy-to-use maintenance features that allow it to run for hours on end on chilly October nights.

5. Add a Touch of Mystique Into Your Photography

Adding fog into your photographic imagery will shape light, capture color and add drama into your next photo shoot. The Mini-V is lightweight and simple to use, making it ideal for moving around the studio or toting into a location. The high-volume, continuous output of the Vapour makes it an excellent choice for filling larger spaces and for creating fog in outdoor photographic locations.

6. Excite The Crowd With A Dramatic Entrance

There is no better way to get a crowd fired up for the big game than having the home team make a spectacular entrance through a huge wall of fog. In order to generate the proper impact, the fog effect needs to be big, impressive and fast – the massive burst of the Vapour Plus accomplishes this task perfectly.

7. Create Effective Smoke Simulation for Safety Training

Fire Departments, Military Bases and International Airports are only a few of the agencies that need to create realistic smoke simulation for search & rescue and preparedness training. The Vapour and its continuous output is a great choice to fill indoor spaces like training buildings and trailers. The high-volume output of the Vapour Plus makes it the machine of choice for generating simulated smoke in outdoor training venues.

8. Leak Testing HVAC Ductwork

Eliminating leakage in a building’s HVAC ductwork improves airflow efficiency and helps keep heating and cooling costs down. Introducing fog into the ductwork is the easiest way to identify leaks by making them easily visible. The Mini-V is easy to use, easy to transport and even small enough to fit right inside larger ductwork.

9. Make Some Magic!

If magic really is “smoke and mirrors,” then we’ve got the smoke covered! Add drama to your magical act – no matter how big your stage is. A fast burst of dense, quick dissipating fog from the Vapour Plus using Rosco Stage & Studio Fog Fluid will masquerade the art of making you, your assistant or even a member of the audience disappear and/or reappear (mirrors sold separately).

10. Create Cryogenic-Like Effects

CO2 and other cryogenic fog effects look great but require bulky tanks and hoses. The Vapour Plus produces CO2 like effects using Rosco’s Stage & Studio quick dissipating fluid.  It’s a fraction of the size of most CO2 systems and doesn’t need the cost and hassle of the external tanks.  This easy-to-use machine comes with a unique bottle carriage that enables it to be mounted vertically or horizontally, which allows you to easily aim the fog burst where it’s needed.

No matter how you use fog, there is a Vapour fog or haze machine ready for you:The Mini-V, Vapour, Vapour Plus and V-Hazer

We would love to see any photos or videos you’ve got of our fog machines in action. Post them up on our Facebook page or tweet them to @Rosco_Labs. If you need more technical information on any of these machines, visit the website or contact your local Rosco dealer to arrange a demo today.

Smoke, fog, mist, haze – no matter what you call it, using this technique adds a distinctive look to your images. Light is invisible – you, and your camera, can only see it once it reflects off of something like a person, tree, wall, etc. Whether you’re shooting stills or video, sometimes you want to ‘see the light’ in your image. Perhaps you want to see beams of light to add texture to your shot, or establish the illuminated area surrounding your subject to convey a color scheme or a mood. In order to make that light visible, you’ve got to introduce some sort of particulate into the air such as dust, powder, or the subject of this post – theatrical fog.

Hal Morey’s iconic photograph of shafts of light inside New York City’s Grand Central Station.

Perhaps the most common use of fog in photography is capturing the beams, or shafts of light generated by elements in the shot. In order for this effect to work, you need two things – a shadow that will shape your beam of light and particles in the air for the light to bounce off of. This is a great effect for shooting locations with architecture, foliage, or windows & blinds – anywhere with interesting shadows to break up the beam. In order for your camera to see those shadowy shafts of light, it’s necessary for the light to be shining through some sort of translucent cloud – which is what theatrical fog does best.

Jay Holben uses fog to add character to the location in the shot on the right.

Not everyone has the luxury of shooting in a location like Grand Central Station, but even adding a little fog into a simple location like a home or office adds extra drama into the scene. Creating that beam-catching, haze effect indoors, is a great way to capture the shadows of light coming through windows or generated by your own gobo, cucoloris or light modifier. The image above comes from an article in DV Magazine where Jay Holben talks about theatrical fog techniques and his experience using fog to add texture into residential scenes he shot for a feature film called Black Tar Road.

Haze in your shot (bottom) reduces contrast, which adds depth to your background.

Jay also explains in his article how theatrical fog can be used to reduce the contrast in a shot. “[Theatrical Fog] tends to create a ‘hazy’ effect so that the background seems to be further away. It requires a light but consistent level of fog. Spray the fog into the room in small doses and waft it around until it dissipates into a single, consistent layer of haze without definition. The closer your subjects are to the camera, the less they will be affected by the fog. It creates a wonderful depth and feel.” You can see that technique illustrated in Jay’s Black Tar Road shot above.

Video, courtesy of The Slanted Lens, that illustrates how to create beams of light outdoors.

In this video, Jay P. Morgan and The Slanted Lens showcase how to capture an image with beams of sunlight streaming through the trees. It’s a great look – but difficult to achieve unless you’re willing to wait for mother nature to supply you with a morning mist, smoke from a nearby brush fire or dust on a windy day. Creating it yourself with a fog machine is much more reliable and gives you more control over the effect. If you’re shooting outdoors know that breezes, wind and other air currents will make it difficult to keep the fog in place. The amount of breeze or wind, along with the humidity levels, at your location that day will determine how long the effect stays around and how dense the effect is.

Photo of comedian Eddie Griffin surrounded by color-coordinated fog.

Fog is also a great way to create a sense of time, space or mood in an image. When Hernan Rodriguez shot this portrait of comedian Eddie Griffin, he used smoke to not only add some drama and texture to the background, but he was also able to color-coordinate the smoke with the elements in the set and wardrobe by simply lighting the fog with the appropriate Rosco color filters .

“Smoke on the Wedding” by Walter Fantauzzi –

In this final photo, Walter Fantauzzi utilizes fog to accomplish all of the techniques mentioned in this post: he captures the light streaking through the window in the background, adds depth to the shot by reducing contrast of the background and he kisses the fog in the lower right-hand corner with a little yellow light to contrast with the hazy blue light in the windows on the left-hand side – all of which draws the viewer’s eye to the bride.

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to add theatrical fog into your images. Rosco manufactures a complete range of fog machines and fog fluids to produce the right amount of volume, opacity and longevity for your shot. Visit the Rosco website to find the right fog machine and fog fluid for your upcoming project. We’d love to see any of the fog-filled images you create in our Rosco Strobist Flickr Pool or our Rosco Facebook Page.

Author E.L. Doctorow (“Billy Bathgate,” “Ragtime,” “The Book of Daniel”) once wrote that “writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” A photographer, on the other hand, would stop the car, place a red-gelled speedlight under the rear bumper to accentuate the brake lights in the fog and use the streaking headlights to create a stylized image of the car for the author to use on the book jacket.

Fog, smoke, mist and haze effects have been incorporated into productions of all types and sizes to evoke an emotional response from the viewer. In some cases, the fog is actually a central character to the action. For example, the 2005 remake of “The Fog” made its smoky mist an antagonist that the other characters had to avoid, which created suspense and fear in the viewer.

Smoke has also been used on stage and on screen to evoke a sense of place & time – such as catching beams of light in the scene to add an abandoned feel to a location.

When Australian photographer and filmmaker William Davidson took on the challenge of directing a music video for the band New Look’s single “The Ballad,” he envisioned the smoke becoming a character in the piece as “an abstract physical state that falls in line with the song” while at the same time creating a sense of mystery and anticipation.

Davidson used the ambiance of the smoke to add the scene’s mystery and anticipation. Davidson: “We don’t know the smoke’s origin – is she creating it or is it emanating from some outside source?” The smoke is used to shroud Sarah Ruba, the band’s lead singer, in a mysterious haze and there are also several shots where the smoke is traveling in unconventional directions – such as into the car as it’s turning sharply, that we see at the beginning of the video:

The fog transports the viewer into the abstract while at the same time becoming a character in the video when Davidson projects imagery of Ruba singing onto the haze in the scene. When the projection hits the smoke, it becomes Ruba’s alter-ego. The effect is implemented around the 1:05 mark and Davidson repeats it throughout the video to enhance moments of crescendo or high drama in the music.

The part of the production that impressed me most was the fact that the video was shot outside. Creating fog effects outdoors can be tricky, especially when atmospheric conditions like an arid, windy evening can take your smoke away almost immediately. Davidson turned to his trusty Rosco 1700 Fog Machine and Rosco Fog Fluid for this outdoor shoot. Having used the machine in his studio in the past, he was confident that his Rosco Fog System would be able to produce enough smoke, with enough density for an image to be projected onto it without breaking up – even outdoors.

Filmmakers have been relying on Rosco’s Academy Award Winning system of Rosco Fog Machines and Fog Fluids for over thirty years. Whether you need to create creepy Low-Lying Fog, mood setting Haze or create a projection surface with the fog like William Davidson did – Rosco’s fog systems can provide the smoke solution for your next production.

In this final Spectrum chapter examining Rosco’s 100 year history, we continue to look at the events that influenced Rosco’s development and, in turn, shaped our industry. So far, we’ve learned how Rosco got its start and how gel, gobos and fog machines were introduced. As of today, we have several hundred products from ten different product lines – many of which have their own story of how they got folded into the Rosco family of products.

For example, the original Roscopaint line was inspired by conversations with painters who wanted to “clean up” the use of dry pigments and who hoped Rosco could devise a simpler solution without sacrificing the colors available in dry pigments.  The first Supersaturated product was a colored concentrate sold in pods that a user would add to a white or neutral base.  By the 80s, this system had become popular among scenic artists giving Rosco, traditionally a lighting company a new foothold in the scenery market.  Seizing an opportunity, Rosco acquired Iddings Paints, a 50-year old maker of popular scenic casein paint.   After this, the Rosco scenic paint line expanded rapidly,  soon including Off Broadway, Fluorescent paints and Roscoflamex fire retardants.  Today the entire scenic line includes scenic paints, specialty primers, clearcoats, coatings and brushes.

In addition to theatrical paints, Rosco has developed specialty paints for TV and film applications. Rosco Video Paint is widely specified as the standard for Chroma Key as well as digital bluescreen and greenscreen effects.  Fun fact:  Chroma Key Green is our best selling paint, surpassing even the most popular theatrical colors & primers!

Noted British lighting designer and gobo guru, David Hersey conceived of interesting lighting effects that could be created if only he could rotate two gobos together inside an ellipsoidal.  Armed with this idea, Mr. Hersey and his development company, DHA Lighting, engineered and began manufacturing some of the earliest gobo rotators.  Building on our already established gobo relationship with DHA, Rosco recognized that other lighting designers might use such a product if we made it available to them.  Rosco brought the DHA Gobo Rotator, AMU Effects Wheel and other effects devices to designers and technicians around the world.   Rosco’s Double Gobo Rotator is, to this day, the most robust gobo rotator available and continues to get specified into jobs that need a bullet-proof machine to spin their gobos.

Our venture into gobo rotators inspired us to work hand-in-hand with more lighting designers to innovate new accessories and create unique lighting effects.  This style of collaboration has spawned many of Rosco’s top-selling lighting accessories like the I-Cue, iPro Image Projector and X24 Effects Projector.

For years, theatrical lighting fixtures were wired with a rudimentary 2P&G “pin connector”  which hadn’t changed in eons. That connector was difficult to wire, arced and shorted easily and had the ergonomics of a brick.  Richard Glickman, a bright engineer who had worked with Rosco on previous projects came to us and said “I can make this better.”  Dick’s design was fast and easy to wire, a sure electrical connection, comfortable to hold and use and the best example of improved product design.  Rosco’s Stage Pin Connector was wildly successful and that original design, now widely imitated by competitors, is still in use today.

You rarely see anyone walking around Rosco’s halls wearing a white lab coat, but we are Rosco LABORATORIES for a reason – we innovate and develop new products for the entertainment industry.  As we wrap up this final chapter focusing on the products and stories of Rosco’s past, it’s important to examine some of our recent innovations that will shape and direct Rosco’s future:

In Color Filters:

Dichrofilm – a line of dichroic coated plastic that can be installed on extremely hot lights for extended periods of time.

In Gobos:

Continued development into our glass gobo capabilities allowing us to create spectacular imagery for projection.

In Dance Floor:

A portable sub-floor system that does not need to be permanently installed allowing studios to take their floor with them when they move.

In Lighting Equipment:

The X24 Effects Projector that started off as the best water and fire effect generator on the market and has grown as other effects like Northern Lights get added to its repertoire.

In Fog:

The Delta Hazer is a water-based hazer that leaves no residue, with excellent coverage and operates quietly enough to run during the performance.

In Scenic Products:

CrystalGel‘s capabilities to glue and coat multiple substrates, along with our new, easier-to-use, line of Roscoflamex Flame Retardants have captured the adoration of scene shops everywhere.

In Photo, Film and Video Products:

The recently re-designed LitePad range of products has recaptured the global attention of users including hobbyist photographers and Academy Award winning cinematographers to illuminate their imagery.

The title of this History series is “The First 100 Years.” By combining Rosco’s extensive range of products – designed to help creative people do their job with a cast of knowledgeable people to support and sell the products into the market – undoubtedly, there will be a piece written in 2110 entitled “The Second 100 Years.”

Stan Miller’s “The First 100 Years” booklet of memories is available for download on our website.