I can see clearly now

March 4, 2009 at 11:42 am 1 comment

unique2Hazers.  Not fog machines or smoke machines.  OK, smoke machines might be acceptable since you can set off the fire alarms with the hazers.  Oh, yeah, it’s true!  I’ve done it three times now!  The first time, the fire trucks actually showed up… color me embarrassed.

The hazers use a water based fluid to create small particles in the air that are essentially chemically enhanced water vapor (essentially steam without the humidity).  These particles act like dust in front of a bright light… like dust in front of a projector, you can see the beam of light.  This enhances the moving lights by letting the audiences see the beams of light (see picture, below).  So, the beam actually becomes a part of your tool set as a lighting designer.  


We have two hazers positioned on either side of the stage.  So, I’ve patched the hazers to channels 201 thru 204.  Channels 201 and 203 are the “pumps” for the hazers… the actual amount of “haze” being created.  Channels 202 and 204 are the fans pushing the haze away from the units and dispersing the cloud.  I have the fans programmed to run at 25% when the light board is turned on, even when their channel level is at 0%.  This accomplishes two things: 1.) The fans run at a much higher speed than the pumps, creating a better dispersion for the haze, and 2.) the fans become white noise and the speed up to 100% is less noticeable if you happen to speed them up in a relatively quiet moment (very unlikely).

I have programmed a submaster (labeled Hazers) to run the pumps @45% and the fans at 100% while the sub is at 100%.  I also  programmed the bump button on the submaster to run that sub to fade up for 5 seconds, run at full for 5 seconds and then cut off autoimatically if bumped.  During the rehearsal last night, this seems to produce a good amount of initial haze without setting off the fire alarm too quickly.  To maintain the haze, simply run the sub at 50%.  This runs the fans at 50% on the board, but their actual speed is closer to 75% since they started at 25% actual speed.

Unless BK requests otherwise, we’ll likely turn off the hazers during the message.  So, we’ll likely bump the sub again post message and go back to running the sub @ 50% until the end of service.  Between services, we’ll likely turn off the hazers again.  Them, during the 5 minute countdown, bump them and return to 50% maintain to prepare the stage for opening song.  This will conserve hazer fluid (expensive) and also keep the haze from being a distraction in any sort of way during the message.

While the sub will be the main control for the hazers, the hazer channels can still be grabbed and set to a higher rate than 45%.  *At this time, I would like to highly recommend against this.*  It only takes a few seconds at 100% pump for the hazers to set off the fire alarm.

We are currently in the process of designing and implementing work arounds for the hazers/fire alarm predicament.  But you should know (audio folks should know this too), that if the fire alarm goes off, the sound system is shut off automatically.  This is a safety requirement so that people can hear the alarm going off.  Additionally, to reset the air duct sensor that is triggered by the haze, you must go up on the roof of the building, open a panel with a 5/16″ nut driver and push a button.  Then, the alarm can be reset at an alarm control panel inside the building, and the audio system powered back on.  So, setting it off on Sunday morning would suck on an epic scale.  We are also working out how to make it so that the alarm system can reset the duct sensors without going on the roof.



Entry filed under: Audio, Lighting.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Oz  |  March 6, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I ran a rehearsal last night at about 60% on the sub-master per Benji’s request for more haze. We’ll continue to see if we can find a good setting that produces a good haze without setting off the fire alarm.

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