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Fog Machines

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by Taniith, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Taniith

    Taniith Active Member

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    There don't seem to be any recent threads (except here), so I thought I'd just ask for recommendations.

    Historically we've used cheapo DJ fog machines that cost $100 or so, cycle off constantly, and then eventually clog or die and get replaced with a new one. We'd like to invest in something better, but still within a reasonable price/performance/size range for a community theatre. So, I'm looking for suggestions.

    Definite must haves:
    - No more than $1,000, something closer to $700-800 would be more ideal
    - Able to be controlled over DMX
    - We don't need long continuous output, but ideally it wouldn't decide to cycle the heater and refuse to output every few minutes at random. It seems like non-dj models tend to preheat for longer and then *not* cycle off randomly?
    - Reasonably quiet (I know fog machines aren't loud, but we got burned on a snow machine recently, so now I'm paranoid about how loud things are)

    Nice to haves, but not deal breakers:
    - Variable output
    - Not enormous (the DJ ones are a nice size for us, but I have yet to see anything with our must-haves that aren't larger/heavier)
    - Easy to maintain/clean (to avoid more clogging problems)

    Looking around at options from names I've at least heard of:
    -> 4Wall seems to like the HES FQ-100, as do some folks in that older thread above. $595 new from 4Wall is a nice price too, but it seems like a bit of a beast and overkill for us at 35lbs and 1500w power consumption.
    -> Locally, ALPS seems to like the Martin JEM series (specifically the ZR25).
    -> Rosco's Vapour Fog also looks comparable/nice (and the maintenance-via-compressed-air feature seems nice, too).

    Does anyone have thoughts on any of those, or suggestions of other models/manufacturers to look at?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  2. cbrandt

    cbrandt Well-Known Member

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    We stock the Jem ZR45s. We love them. They have great output and a wide selection of fluids. The 45 is probably overkill for you, but the biggest difference between the different models is the top end output, and how long you can do a full continuous blast without heat cycling.
     
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  3. LPdan

    LPdan Member

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    The FQ-100 is a great fogger. Unless the size is a real issue, it’s always better to have more capacity than less. I’m not familiar with Jem foggers, but I also highly recommend a company called Look Solutions. Their units are top notch, and have a fine level of control. Check them out.
     
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  4. Taniith

    Taniith Active Member

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    The Look Solutions ones do look quite nice, but they're also a fair bit more expensive than comparable ones from other brands, alas.

    Their tiny battery powered ones are interesting, though. Not useful at the moment, but very interesting...
     
  5. LPdan

    LPdan Member

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    Yes, the Look Solutions products are a bit pricier than other units. Sometimes you can find them on Used Lighting. At least something to keep in mind for the future. I find not many people mention them, but I have had great luck with them!
     
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  6. Taniith

    Taniith Active Member

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    Ah yes, they have several Look Solutions models on UsedLighting... hrm. I'm skeptical of used foggers, but it's worth considering. Thanks!
     
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  7. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    FaceTime or Skype of it working. Best way to see it in action.
     
  8. tdtastic

    tdtastic Member

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    I was in your boat just over a year ago when our G300 finally bit the dust after nearly twenty years, and I reached out on here for some suggestions. It's a hard and fun decision to get to make and I definitely wanted to do my homework. We ended up with two of the Vapour Plus and also Roscos's V-Hazer. I definitely got all the things we were looking for at a decent price point, and I have to say I love the Vapour Plus. They're a nice compact size, and the ability to tip them straight up is pretty useful. They are not the quietest machines I've ever seen but dialed down they can be near silent while still pumping out a decent cloud -- definitely gonna hiss at full output, but hey who doesn't? Fluid consumption is not bad, and you can get almost continuous output at full. We just used one in a show where it had to pump at about 50% for 15 minutes straight. They do pull a good bit of power so we have to be extra careful about distributing wall circuits. Their standby mode is usefull too, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night freaking out, "oh crap I think I left the foggers on when I left earlier tonight!" And yes, the compressed air line is fun for cleaning. I know some say cleaning isn't a "thing" but for us who might only use them once or twice a year, it feels good knowing you gave them a blowout before putting them on the shelf.

    As for the V-Hazer, its a good machine and I don't hate it. Its big let-down for us is that unless the machine is receiving DMX signal, the fan speed defaults to full....and she's loud AF at full.

    I would ultimately try to get my hands on whatever machine you think you want before you buy -- even spending the cash to rent a model you like to play with can lessen buyers remorse. Or can you go to a trade show? Love the Vapour Plus, and I would never want to hurt her feelings, but probably wouldn't have gone with the V-Hazer if I were able to play with one first. Good luck with your search! Let us know what you settle on.
     
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  9. Taniith

    Taniith Active Member

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    Well, update time. We decided to go with the Rosco Vapour. All other things being equal, the compressed air cleanout sold us for the same reasons tdtastic lists (used once or twice a year and then sits on a shelf).

    Aaaand then, upon unpacking it, it refused to heat up. It claims it was heating up, but it never got to the ready state even after 30+ minutes. So either I'm reading the manual very wrong, or it's defective. Alas. I'll be calling Rosco on Monday to hopefully figure it out one way or the other.

    Womp womp.
     
  10. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Did you buy from a reputable buyer. Just send it back most have a 14 day DOA policy.

    If not well like you said Womp womp.
     
  11. Taniith

    Taniith Active Member

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    Yes, we got it from Barbizon. So one way or another I expect it'll get resolved. It's just one of those things where you build up excitement over a new purchase and then it falls flat.

    Speaking of unreputable sellers, I *did* come across some Indonesian online store selling it for 1/4 the price... but that seemed like a bad move, all things considered.
     
  12. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Lol yeah.

    Barbizon is good people. When I was in charge of purchasing they were my expendables supplier.
     
  13. EdSavoie

    EdSavoie Well-Known Member

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    The program i'm in has used a Rosco Hazemaker for years without issue.

    That being said, it kind of violates the "relatively quiet" premise...
     
  14. tdtastic

    tdtastic Member

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    That's such a bummer! not getting to play with the new toy sucks. I'm curious to know what Rosco said. Were you plugged directly into the wall or were you using an extension cord? I hope it's not a faulty machine, but if you bought if from Barbizon they'll do right by you.
     
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  15. Taniith

    Taniith Active Member

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    I tried it with both an extension cord and directly into the wall. Rosco said it sounded like either a faulty heat exchanger or a faulty control board. Barbizon is replacing it, though - should have the new one next week.
     
  16. Taniith

    Taniith Active Member

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    Thought I'd give an update for anyone considering the Rosco Vapour in the future. Barbizon got me a replacement a week later (even though Rosco was out until April.. magic!). Here's a video of it on full with Stage and Studio fluid: https://photos.app.goo.gl/i5179JHrURcSOzMw2

    At full you can definitely hear the hiss of the fog coming out, but no more than any other machine I've used. At lower levels you still get plenty of output but can't hear the fogger from the house. The output levels almost seem like they have more to do with how far away it throws the fog than how thick the fog is, which is very useful for keeping a thick cloud of fog that stays in a contained space for an effect we have. Overall I'm very happy with it. The only caveat is that it does guzzle fluid at higher output levels, but 1 pint bottles are only ~$13.50, so it's not a huge deal.

    The cleanout is a bonus. As is the fact that it will disable itself if it doesn't get a DMX (or other control) signal. I ran out of DMX relays, but thanks to that feature I still don't have to worry about remembering to turn it on/off every night.
     

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