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Do you miss the fog machine?

Do you miss the fog machine?

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Jun-02-2017 8:12 PM

In the late 70's and throughout the 80's there were several directors who conspicuously used smoke (lots of it!) in order to achieve a richer and more layered visual canvas that made each frame look almost like an impressionistic work of art. Among these directors you can count Alan Parker, Adrian Lyne, Tony Scott and, towering them all, Ridley Scott. The work of cinematographers like Jordan Cronenweth, Michael Seresin and Peter Biziou thrived within this style. Sadly, smoke has been absent from the latest crop of movies and I wonder if there a legal issue might be the explanation of why it cannot be used any more. Because it is sorely missed. At least by me.

11 Responses to Do you miss the fog machine?


Jun-02-2017 8:27 PM

Hmm... So that is why some newer movies look so clean? I never considered that. Perhaps real time fog makes for more difficult retakes or CGI? Only guessing here.

Or maybe there is a second hand fog complaint among actors.


Jun-02-2017 8:37 PM

My theory is, apart of the possible legal issue, that directors just no longer want to take the trouble of doing things the oldfashion way, even if they have to sacrifice realism in doing so. Maybe nowadays time is more expensive than cgi, and they don't want to take the time to fill a up a set with smoke anymore. In "Blade Runner" they created a whole miniature model of the cityscape and they filled it up with smoke to create the illusion of space and distance. This type of artistic ingenuity is what makes that movie one of a kind. I am pretty sure Blade Runner 2049 will use just cgi, unfortunately. 


Jun-02-2017 8:51 PM

It's really not that expensive if planned for. In an enclosed environment, a decent fog machine can pump out quite a bit. I have done so DIY training Medics. I get the feeling Hollywood types get bothered about possible effects on actors' lungs and all that hippy dippy crap.


Jun-02-2017 9:26 PM

Save the fog machine from extinction!!
Cuz cgi fog just does NOT work.

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*


Jun-02-2017 9:41 PM

Some examples of a look you don't see in movies anymore


Jun-03-2017 1:09 AM

Fog is now the cowbell of special effects. MORE COW...err I mean FOG!


Jun-03-2017 4:46 AM

Acccording to the cast, Veronica Cartwright in particular, Ridley burned incense throughout A L I E N to create the effect.

The fog certainly added to the beauty of A L I E N and Blade Runner. I think it gives real depth to a set or landscape.

I doubt if the Health and Safety police would allow for it's use today!


"Let The Cosmic Incubation Begin" ~ H.R. Giger


Jun-03-2017 7:58 AM

Well, fog is simply a sugary water concoction that is vaporized. It's not dangerous at all, and the newer formulations are just like being outside on a humid day.


Now, the HUGE WHITE BRIGHT LIGHTS in the middle of darkness, sometimes strobes, illuminating sets from behind even in the middle of unexplicable places---like, the middle of the woods and in an Alien nest on an unknown planet----those can stay extinct.


Jun-03-2017 8:22 AM

Even Cameron saw the value in a well placed smoke machine. One of my favorite uses of one in film is the very first scene I ever saw from an Alien movie.



Jun-03-2017 12:37 PM

Fog was used to give a certain atmosphere but most importantly it was used to hide parts of the set. It is a clever way of saving money while building sets in that they don't have to build the whole thing and just focus on what's going to be in front of the camera. The fog or smoke can easily cover the rest (especially if they're shooting in a sound stage).

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