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Puff of smoke in outdoor play


weatherhead

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I'm acting in an outdoor production of Cantebury Tales this summer, and as I only have a small role I am also helping with the (so far very few) technical requirements.

 

One thing the director has mentioned a couple of times is that he wants the Guru in the Franklin's tale to appear in a "puff of smoke", if possible. I've worked with a few types of smoke machines (hazers, dry ice, heated smoke fluid), but none of them that I can recall are any good for this type of effect. I'm more comfortable with lighting and sound, so could you guys please suggest me something that fits the bill? Ideally we want something fairly simple and inexpensive, as it's only a one week show and this effect is only used once within it. I'm hoping you can get some kind of "smoke cannon" or something which doesn't involve pyro, because again the amount of trouble that would have to be taken for H&S reasons will make it not worth the effort.

 

Thanks very much in advance

Dan

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If you wanted him to appear in a "bang" of smoke, you could fill a balloon with smoke, cunningly conceal it on stage, and explode it when it is needed. That's if the smoke won't condense in the balloon...

 

This actually sounds quite fun! Remind me to try it sometime... <_<

 

EDIT: Balloons are also really cheap!

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If you wanted him to appear in a "bang" of smoke, you could fill a balloon with smoke, cunningly conceal it on stage, and explode it when it is needed. That's if the smoke won't condense in the balloon...

 

This actually sounds quite fun! Remind me to try it sometime... <_<

 

EDIT: Balloons are also really cheap!

 

Given how most smoke machines have a label on the front of them saying "Caution; Hot Nozzle", or words to that effect, how would you propose to fill said balloon with smoke??

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If you wanted him to appear in a "bang" of smoke, you could fill a balloon with smoke, cunningly conceal it on stage, and explode it when it is needed. That's if the smoke won't condense in the balloon...

Hmmmm....

 

Er, NO!

As has been said, smoke machine nozzles are pretty much without exception VERY hot! that's how the smoke is produced?

And yes - the smoke would quickly dissipate, even in the confines of said baloon even IF it could be gotten inside!

 

This actually sounds quite fun! Remind me to try it sometime... :D

Please do - but don't complain when a) the place stinks of burned rubber and b) you can't type straight cos of all the sticking plasters on your scorched fingers!

<_<

 

To the OP, however, I think you need to clarify the gag a little more.

 

From where is this character 'appearing'? Behind scenery?

 

Is there any reason why not to use a standard pyro flash? The way genies and fairies and various other acts have appeared in panto for decades...?

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Hi again,

to clarify: the production is outdoors in a park, and is presented almost in the round, the audience could be on anywhere of three sides of the performance area. The guru is appearing from a "corner" of the performance area, from behind some shrubbery.

 

The only reasons against using a standard pyro flash are

1) I don't have any experience with them

2) since it's outdoors it could rain and I assume this might be a problem

3) Since it's in the round it would be difficult to completely ensure there is no audience near the pyro

4) There are very few other LX/technical requirements in this show and what there are I'm taking care of, and given that I also have a small role in the performance, there isn't really anyone to be full time "pyro guy".

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The LeMaitre mini-foggers work well for this.

They can be heated up, then unplugged and hand operated wherever onstage, as they use aerosol cans of smoke vapourised on a slow-cool heating element.

 

The smoke puff they produce works well with the genie/fairy godmother style, though can hang a bit too long though this shouldn't be a problem outdoors.

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Are you allowed to dig up the grass a bit? I'd be tempted to investigate running a bit of ducting out to just in front of where the character needs to appear so that they can be masked by the smoke rather than have it appear behind them. With a bit of care you'll be able to create a vertical column of smoke which they can step through. The effect of smoke coming up from the ground will also give you an extra visual dimension.
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  • 3 weeks later...
I'd also look at hiring a vertical firing smoke machine.
For vertical smoke effects we use what we affectionately call "Smoke corners". They're 90 degree drainpipe corners mounted in a piece of hinged wood that sits in front of the ZR22/33; it means we can direct the smoke pretty much anywhere from the normally horizontal output of the machine. It means I don't accidentally smoke out the artists on stage too much...
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  • 2 weeks later...

While I could quite happily bore you to death with a thousand and one ways to do it with pyro if you're not happy or confrotable using it then dont, its not something you would want to get wrong!

 

Given that its outside why dont you send a jet of CO2 down a pipe into a small bowl of flour or similar? I know flour can be volatile have a low flashpoint due to the way it dissapates and hangs in the air but outside it wouldnt be a problem, couple that with a flash from an arc strobe or similar & theres your flash?

 

Only potential down side I can see is the fact that some of your cast and possibly audience members might look like they have just come form an evening round at Ronni Woods house!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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