Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Heavy Fog


Hi everyone.

I have been asked to come with a cheap and very efficient way to create heavy fog on the surface of a big lake.

The Director wants it thick enough a boat could seem to be swallowed up while it is sailing away from camera.

I've burned green wood in the past with good result, but here the area is very big. Also the smoke must not just stay at the surface like dry ice or be too light like with some regular smoke machine. It must stay in between (wind allowing, of course...)

Thanks for your opinions.

Jean Marc Selva, D.P.


I know nothing about them,. but what about those ultrasonic atomisers?

They exist in tiny tabletop form, but I believe the Bellagio hotel fountain display had some large-scale devices. They filled the lake in a minute or so with pure white low-lying mist.

There's probably a largish installation issue, but you might consider contacting Wet Design ( ) who were responsible for that particular installation.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit

Artem smoke machines, and hope it's not windy.

Dan Bronks

There are a number of companies that make pulse jet foggers for spreading pesticides on fruit trees and crops and that sort of thing.

It has been years since I have used one, but They can be loaded with plain mineral oil instead of pesticides and one of the things that makes them easy to work with is that they are easily hand-carried (you can get a shoulder strap so that you sling it so it sits near your hip and you point it wherever you need it) so you can get it right to where you need the fog and spew it out. - they are gas(petrol) powered and totally self-contained- no hoses or wires.

(Designed for walking down rows of trees in an orchard)

I can't remember the name of the German or Austrian company that made the one I used, but if you Google "fogger jet" or something like that you will see pictures of them. You can get a dense white fog with them it will sit right down to the water but it will dissipate upwards, so if you want a sharp-edged fog-bank that doesn't rise, you will need to use something else or run the fog through a dry ice basket to cool it down to keep it low.

If you are still looking for info, contact me off-list and I can put you in touch with a friend of mine in the UK who did a lot of low-lying fog for Mission Impossible in Prague - he knows all the right toys - I think they may have used one of the WWII era smoke generators that ship convoys used to hide behind. for parts of that show, but that might be too big an effect.

Mark Weingartner
LA based

Possibility of doing it in post, 3D particle effects are particularly good at atmospherics. Since there are tracking issues it may be worth while to talk to an effects house before the shoot. "Little green balls floating merrily on the lake?"

TJ Williams

I think the pulse jet fogger I used was an Igeba brand, but there are a number of pulse jet hand-held units out there and they all work the same way - very low tech.

Mark Weingartner

There is an effects house here in San Francisco that has a small fog machine a little bit bigger than an air cooled Volkswagen engine. It can be placed in the back of a pick up truck or on a boat. It was built for the military and used to create smoke to mask troop / boat movements. We used it one clear night on San Francisco Bay to create a fog effect and, as the effect drifted away it set off three fog horns around the bay. I have *never* seen one small machine product such an unbelievably huge volume of smoke effect!

We also used the same machine another time to make a solid wall of smoke along a road between a row of trees for a car to disappear into.

I would imagine a few phone calls to yer' local special effect suppliers might turn up a local version of the troop smoke machine.


Rod Williams
Motion Picture and HD First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California

Jean Marc writes :

>I have been asked to come with a cheap and very efficient way to create >heavy fog on the surface of a big lake.

Dear Jean Marc:

I just returned from Florida and we did a shot similar to the one you described.

We were on John's lake at sunrise and the Director wanted early morning mist drifting across the water. We had two gas engine powered WAJEEBA'S (phonetic spelling) in two separate "fog" boats.

He wanted a thin mist, but at first the fog boats were so close to the shot, the fog obliterated the scene. We had to move them about 300 feet away in order to let the fog dissipate enough to look like early morning mist. Two caveats however, they use up a lot of gasoline and fog juice and they are VERY loud and noisy. Bone up on your ship to shore semaphore. Best wishes on your shot and don't forget to wear your life vests.


John Sheeren
Camera Operator
1st AC
Houston, Texas

Jean Marc writes:

>I have been asked to come with a cheap and very efficient way to create >heavy fog on the surface of a big lake.

I have been asked to come with a cheap and very efficient way to create heavy fog on the surface of a big lake.

There are big lakes and big lakes.

The cheapest all around favourite is the Igeba pulse jet fogger.

Things to watch out for:

>1/. Wind -- if it's windy, all kinds of fog natural and man-made will be blown away.

>2/. As previous posters have indicated, pulse jet machines are extremely loud. Operators will need noise cancelling headsets and walkies if you expect to communicate with them.

>3/. Several different compounds can be used with differing effect. Whatever you use, you will need a lot of it to cover a lake for any length of time.

>4/. Test well ahead of time to determine how many machines you may need. Igeba also makes some rather large truck mounted units.

>5/. If you are in an agricultural area, you might be able to hire a company that does crop fumigation for a lot less money than putting together your own crew.

>6/. You should check with local environmental authorities to see if there are any regulations that need to be followed.

>7/. The fog that comes out of these machines is quite warm. Depending on the ambient temperature of the air and the water, to get natural looking fog, you might have to cool the artificial fog. Be prepared for a lot of dry ice.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP

Here's a "mist" photo from a recent shoot - the location already had an ultrasonic mist system in use.

We were going for subtly so as not to engulf the sculpture.

The wind had very little effect on the mist since it was generated from multiple spouts around the area...

Go to :

to see.

Richard W. Gretzinger
Director of Photography

>Here's a "mist" photo from a recent shoot - the location already had an >ultrasonic mist system in use.
>The wind had very little effect on the mist since it was generated from >multiple spouts around the area...

Interesting, I shot a scene at that same pond from a different angle two years ago !

They aerate the water by spraying it onto a pointed tip.

It's a great effect. Might be a lot of plumbing pumps and compressors to rig hide a boat, I don't know. But very natural looking (I shot over by a bridge, with the actors walking over the misty pond).

Sam Wells

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