Now that all the church and local theater Christmas productions are over, it’s time to have a serious discussion about smoke machines. Smoke (or haze/fog) machines can be a fascinating addition to any stage production, whether it features dramatic acting or a music concert.
However, with most Church and local theater productions I watched this year, the production team had no clue about how a smoke machine should actually be used.
Just to be clear: For most instances, smoke (or haze/fog) is designed to enhance the lighting, not overpower it. In other words, smoke effects should help define the light, not dominate the light.
But time and time again, somebody backstage is pumping out so much smoke you can hardly see the performers! In fact, I was at a Christmas concert this year where there was so much smoke during one number the soloist lost her bearings, started coughing, and almost fell off the stage!
Certainly there are times when smoke is an effect in itself, and how much is used should be based on the scene you’re designing and the emotions you want the audience to experience.
But for your next event, let’s start small. How little smoke will it take for the stage lighting to be clearly defined and enhanced?
Because in most cases, much more than that, and it becomes a distraction and takes the audiences attention away from the presentation rather than helping tell the story.
I’d love to hear about some of your nightmare smoke machine experiences!