We have all used smoke machines on sets, they’re great, they create mood and help enhance lighting. We have all seen those amazing light beams.Smoke machines are handled on set by the Special Effects crew. Over the years I have seen them apply smoke several different ways. Allow me to share a few with you if I may. In the video you will see that Scott from F/X is applying smoke to a scene I had to shoot for NCIS:LA. What you need to notice is he’s bouncing the smoke from the back of the car and not directly applying it onto the set.
Most beginners when they get a smoke machine just blast the smoke onto their set, it will be very heavy or as some refer to it as patchy, like diffused light you want to spread it out and fill the set evenly, I knew I wanted to write this article so I had Scott show a fanning technique they often use.
He’s using an applicator kind of like a big paddle to spread the smoke out. As you can see the smoke is evened out and looks a lot better. Here’s another method F/X will use:they’ll actually use a fan next to the smoke machine to disperse the smoke. This technique is usually done to fill a stage or particular set for a period of time.
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Mike is best known for his work on countless popular shows that are household names: CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, JAG, Boston Legal, Pretty Little Liars to name a few. His current projects are NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Mike is a Trainer for KelbyOne, and Los Angeles Center of Photography. Mike is also a member of the International Cinematographers Guild.
You can view Mike’s work at 4stills.com, and follow him on Facebook at 4Stills.