Tips For The Perfect Haze

tips for the perfect haze

We all know the difference: a well-hazed room is virtually undetectable under normal lighting conditions – but really sings when sharp, theatrical beams cut through the ether. A poorly hazed room feels like a smoky bar with clouds of thick, opaque fog passing through like tumbleweeds.

1. Use an actual hazer.

There is a measurable difference between a fogger and a hazer (and anything called a “fazer“, or dare I say “smoke machine”, has no business anywhere other than haunted houses). True haze machines produce much finer particles, resulting in better “invisibility” as well as increased “hang time.” As a rule of thumb, if a machine is less than $500 it probably has no business being called a hazer. 

2. Keep it running.

We’ve all heard it: “Just be sure you shut that thing off during the sermon.” It’s an understandable request, but remember how the key to a well-hazed room is that the haze is invisible under normal lighting? If you have a perfectly evenly hazed room, it is virtually invisible. By turning it off for 30 minutes, the room will empty, and you have to re-haze from scratch – which will look like those rolling clouds you worked so hard to avoid. Sometimes the lowest setting on your hazer is still too much for the size of your room. Instead of turning it off once the room is too hazy, create a basic chase on your console which alternates the lowest setting and the off setting in short intervals, perhaps ten seconds on, twenty seconds off, etc.

3. Experiment with position.

This is the most crucial step, and it is not something to try and figure out on Sunday morning. Every room is different, and the air currents in each space work differently. I’ve seen spaces haze best from the catwalk, behind a curtain onstage, or even the back of the room. Try everything. Those four-inch flexible correlated drain pipes from Home Depot come in handy for redirecting the output.

4. Use you HVAC system to your advantage.

Ideally, the HVAC engineer designed the system with haze in mind. But since most spaces don’t have this luxury, try setting the system on a “recirculate” mode. This way, the air returns take-in hazed air and redistributes it evenly throughout the space. Standard or auto modes tend to periodically vent all the inside air to the outside, leaving you haze-less. 

5. Understand your smoke detectors.

It is best for your facility manager to notify the local fire & alarm services that you will be doing testing, and they will usually cooperate and allow the system to be put into test mode. This allows you to dial in your haze settings without the risk of setting of the alarms. Also, remember that re-circulation mode that works so great? Smoke detectors are often located in the duct work itself, so don’t simply park your hazer directly in front of a return duct or you will undoubtedly set off the fire alarm.

$1000 may seem steep for something that you’re not even supposed to see, but think of it this way: You could either buy two more LED lights, or purchase a hazer and simultaneously make every single light you already own ten times more effective.

There is a measurable difference between a fogger and a hazer. @robmerow Click To Tweet Check out these 5 Tips for the Perfect Haze at your church from @robmerow Click To Tweet

About the Author_02

Author Photo - Rob Merow

Lighting Designer
OneLux Studio | New York, NY

Rob discovered his love of theater and passion for creating dynamic environments early on as a volunteer at his home church in Pennsylvania. His degree in architecture and years of experience as a volunteer prepared him for his calling to full time ministry where he led teams in the areas of lighting & scenic design, audio production, graphic design, branding, and interior design. He and his wife Emily have recently moved to New York City, where he has come full circle into architectural lighting. Rob enjoys blurring the line between theatrical, experiential, and architectural design; keeping one foot in ministry as often as possible.