Stage Lighting

Haze Days

Duke Dejong answers the question: “How much haze should you use?”

We’ve entered a new era for churches, one where intelligent lights have become not only accepted but fairly common.  We’re seeing a lot of attention paid to the look and design of our stages and lighting, and one tool that really makes lighting look great is haze. So how much haze should you use?

The short answer: You need as much as it takes to create the look you want.  Genius right?  I can’t tell you specifically how much you need because you need to figure out how much is right for your church by talking with your church leadership and trying out some different amounts.  What I can do is help you figure out what you are trying to accomplish with your haze, which should lead to that answer.  Keep in mind these concepts hold true whether you use oil or water based or one large hazer vs. many smaller ones.

Simply stated haze is used to help people see lighting beams across the open air, allowing you to “paint” the air with color and shapes.  When used effectively it’s a very cool visual element to have and can be a very useful design tool.  The addition of haze allows you to effectively design a look on your stage without having any actual sets. There are three questions in a church environment I think should help determine that.

  1. Does the haze need to dissipate by the time the message starts?
    Haze inherently stays in the air for so long, and the thicker your haze is the longer it takes to dissipate and disappear.  If your pastor is not comfortable with a little haze being in the air while he preaches then you need to keep your haze thinner and less saturated.  If a little haze is ok, you can saturate the air significantly during worship. Then it will thin out some during the message.  Generally it sits thin on the ground and works it’s way up so you end up still seeing some haze up higher near the lights.
  2. Where are your lights aimed?
    If your lighting is all aimed toward the stage, you only really need to haze the stage area and slightly in front.  If you are aiming lights out away from the stage toward the audience or out towards the ceiling, those beams are coming off stage which means you’ll want your haze to come off stage too.  The more distance you want to cover with your lights, the more haze you’ll need to use and the more saturated you’ll likely need the haze to be.
  3. The look–do you want to see beams from ceiling to floor or just part of the way?
    I have seen many churches use just a little bit of haze in their services and you can see it show the beams for a while until you get closer to the stage.  This looks nice and will be perfect for many churches.  Others want to see the beam until the light hits its target.  For that you will need your haze thicker.  You need to play with your thickness here to see what gives you the look you want.  Side note: When lighting with haze, the tighter and more focused the beam, the better it will show.  Zooming out and throwing it out of focus will not give you defined beams.  Also, once beams start overlapping you will lose some of the effect too. Quantity of light doesn’t necessarily mean quality when trying to paint the air with light.

Answer these three questions and I think you’ll be able to easily answer how much haze you need.  As always, please add comments, thoughts, or questions below.

Hula Hoopla!

27 responses to “Haze Days”

  1. Shaheen Eydgahi says:

    Good thoughts. My church is just getting into the whole moving light/haze thing and I'm looking for a decent Hazer. We have a fogger and it's just not working. I was thinking Chauvet Arena Hazer. Any opinions? Or other options? I've heard that oil-based leaves a residue on equipment, so I'd rather go water-based unless that's a myth. Basically, any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Tim Brink says:

      We use an Antari Fazer. This one give us the option of Fog or Haze, but we only use water-based haze. I've heard the same thing about oil-based products leaving residue. The waterbased haze works great, and clears for our Pastor's message. We control it through a 3 pin DMX cable connected through our lights to our Elation Show Designer. Works great!

      • Ted Newman says:

        We use the same Antari Fazer, but have trouble getting good distribution. Any suggestions for moving haze on the stage that may have worked for you. We are currently using a fan for side to side, but having problems filling top to bottom.

        • Scotty Griffin says:

          My church uses a Base Hazer Pro from HazeBase. It is a considerably pricier than the Chauvet arena hazer and Antari Fazer, but the benefits to purchasing a quality hazer are endless (i.e. without a good smooth haze, your lights won’t be nearly as lovely). The Base Hazer Pro is water based so it doesn’t leave a residue, and its output will fill up my church’s 2,300 seat auditorium with only 1 hazer in 15 minutes at med-high output. If you have a smaller auditorium you can run it at much lower levels while still maintaining the quality of haze in the room. Benefits to this are: spending less money on haze fluid, and you can appropriately haze the room without billowing clouds of ‘smoke’ as so many people like to call it. Lol.

          Just my thoughts on hazers.

          Ted, while I have not personally invested much time into learning the nuances of the Fazer, the general idea behind hazing is pretty much the same. First, spend some time learning the airflow of your auditorium, preferably with the ACs on so you get an accurate idea of how the air moves. Then, once you have an idea on airflow in your room, play with the positioning of the hazer itself. Try to find a place where you get the best possible haze you can without using fans (while still maintaining a moderate haze output, of course; you don’t want to waste haze fluid). Once you’ve found a good position for the hazer, then add a fan to help fill the rest. If you’ve positioned it well, your ACs should actually help to move the haze for you instead of being a detriment. If you’re having problems filling the top of your room with haze, try angling a fan upwards a bit. If the inverse is a problem, then you may need to adjust the output of your hazer a bit (unless of course you have your hazer suspended, in which case, just try lowering it to the floor).

          Anyway, I hope I have helped in any small amount! Be blessed!

  2. Madison says:

    We use a hazer at my church…we have extremely high ceilings and our air systems were not put in with haze in mind. The intakes for all of our massive units are outside the main entrance doors to our auditorium so each time the door is opened, it sucks the majority of our haze out. Also, even if our doors are closed but the air is on, the haze dissipates quite a bit. We have learned over time to keep the air off if possible to keep it looking great, and then just turn on 1 units fan in the winter time to help it dissipate. Sometimes haze turns out to be quite a scientific process for us. :)

  3. Glenn says:

    Something I never hear addressed when using Fog or Haze is the smoke detectors in churches that use it. Being a public building I'm sure smoke detectors are required by the local Fire Marshal. How do you make this work? The few times we've used haze or smoke machines for Easter Cantata performances we've set off the alarm at least twice and had to deactivate it for some other services. We'd like to use it every week during our evening Worship services. Does anyone have any ideas how to deal with this?
    We also have ventilation issues in our sanctuary room. The HVAC returns are on the back wall opposite the platform and it does suck all the haze out. We've had to either cool or heat the room first, then haze it up and then turn the system back on half way through the performance.

    • Shaun says:

      Hi Glenn, We used to have very similar problems at our church with the smoke detectors thinking there was a fire and activating the alarms. The way we ended up getting around this was by isolating the smoke detectors in our auditorium. Initially we were worried that this wasn't a great idea, for obvious reasons, but last year we had a major church conference at our cities entertainment centre and found that this was what all major auditoriums do anyway. So short answer is that you will just need to work out how to isolate your smoke detectors or you may be able to use a water based hazer and get away with not isolating.

    • matthew drury says:

      I've heard of using heat detectors and turning off the particle detectors. This makes total sense, as the most common smoke detectors are actually detecting particles in the air, which hazing produces, instead of heat from a fire, which hazing does NOT produce. However, I've never been in a position to research or price heat detectors. I'm sure your fire marshal and/or your alarm company could give great insight on compatible products. The simple truth is that THOUSANDS of theater houses are hazing on a daily basis and it doesn't seem very logical to me that they'd be allowed to power down their detection systems that frequently.

      • David says:

        Matthew – After my many years in the professional lighting industry I can tell you that the most common way of avoiding smoke detectors going off is the same as what Shaun said. You simply isolate the zones of your auditorium and surrounding areas. You are not in fact 'powering down' your system as it still runs for the whole time only in an isolated mode.

    • Mark says:

      Our sanctuary only has smoke detectors inside the A/C ductwork, and because of the amount of false alarms caused by the heat strips in the HVAC units, the fire code in our area requires that all duct detectors are on supervisory. That means that the system goes into trouble, not alarm if the haze is too thick. This also means that ALL A/C units building wide are shut down by the fire system. So it requires a certain amount of testing to determine how much haze is too much for your building. We just acquired a Martin Pro 2500 Hazer and began testing it today. The Martin produces a really thick haze, so we need our A/C units to break it up for the proper effect. I spent an hour testing it this morning with no issues.

  4. Michael says:

    The way to do it is to sytematically try adding a set amount of haze at the beginning of the service, and then, at each service, gradually add more until you've suddenly added too much. At our church, almost all the lights are on stage and our Pastor does not want haze by the time he gets up there. So, we started with 2 minutes of haze that we would shut off 1 minute before the band started worship. Then we tried 3 and 4 minutes. At 5 minutes there was too much haze on stage and the pastor objected. Our rule is (and this only workes with our stage in our room) 1 minute per song played. When our pastor does his prayer, there is always an ending song. We add haze during the prayer (about 1 minute worht) for that last song.

  5. Lorraine says:

    do you get many comments from congregation members who object to the haze because of health concerns. We have been playing with haze for about a year and still have not figured out the perfect mix with our hvac and to keep those who are concerned about health effects happy. And yes we use a water based haze.

  6. dukedejong says:

    Lots of great questions/comments!

    Oil based can leave a little residue over time which will simply wipe off when you're doing your regular maintenance, which everyone does, right? :-) If you are thickly hazing a room it can indeed leave some residue but for the average user it's not a big problem. The key is on the look you are trying to create and how consistently you are maintaining your gear. Oil based haze will even out in the air and stay a lot longer, and if you're performing the recommended maintenance on your projectors and moving lights, any residue can be wiped off at that time. Water based tends to be a little more patchy and will dissipate quickly, and doesn't generally leave any trace behind.

    Fire alarms can be tricky. Particle detectors are death to hazers. In fact someone simply kicking up dust can set those off. Heat sensors are much better in a hazed environment and should produce very few, if any false alarms. Some areas are starting to require both particle and heat sensors in newer facilities so it's wise to work with your local Fire Marshall to find solutions. Most of them are happy to help keep everyone safe while helping you do what you are trying to do.

    As for concerns, in my experience they are generally just because of the visual effect. Many people are unaware of what is really in haze fluid and are prone to panic when anything changes or is abnormal to them, so they express their concerns. The easiest way I know to head this off, if and only if your leadership agrees and wants to use haze, is to post something at the doors saying something to the extent of, "This facility frequently uses a water/oil based haze effect to enhance our lighting and stage design. The chemicals within the fluid are ____________ and have been tested and found to be non-harmful." I will say there is a super small percentage of people that may have a reaction to a chemical within haze fluid, but really unless they are getting a direct shot from the hazer itself or you are completely saturating the whole room, there is little reason to be concerned and the statement posted in a public viewing space conveys both the vision and the consideration of health effects.

    Whew. Other thoughts, questions of comments?

  7. Duane Dodge says:

    DF50 is the mac daddy of hazers. we have a 1300 seat church and the 1 df50 with a fan works awesome.

  8. We use the Antari HZ-400 our church with oil based fluid. We really don’t have much residue at all. I used to use the DF50 on the road all time back in my traveling days.

  9. Daniel Livingston ( Arc ) says:

    Hello all,what exactly are the components of water haze? Really plan using water Haze for my next design to bring out my design having a combinations of PVC,Glass,Ply woods,cotton backdrop and other materials that will be determined during construction stage.

  10. justin says:

    What is the best placement for hazers? I have it currently hanging over the stage blowing toward the audience. Should I have it blowing toward the stage and on the ground?


  11. Lee Hendrix says:

    The best hazer I have found for the money is the Radiance Hazer around 1100.00. IMHO oil base hazers are problematic if you have equipment with fans, Projectors, some intels, etc. the haze IS going to be sucked into these and it WILL cause dust to accumulate and build up not good guys…

  12. Jay R says:

    I just watched the video of a Radiance Hazer, and its just like a fog machine.

    • Wes says:

      I know this is 2.5 years late, but I’ve see that same video. I had the same concern. It does look like that immediately out of the hazer if set at 100%. We run ours at 15% and it fills the room in about 20-30 minutes. I hope you got a hazer you liked.

  13. Jay R says:

    I am looking for a decent water based hazer, the reviews on the chauvet are not good, any input will be appreciated.

    • Ted Newman says:

      How large an are do you need to haze? We use an Atari, and it seems to do the job, but you need to be aware of air movement in the area. The hang time can be an issue for the service times we work with.

  14. J says:

    Something to consider when using Haze machines. People with asthma can have reactions to the particulates the haze machine makes. I have had to leave my church of 25 years due to the use of a haze machine now. Even though they are supposedly not an issue, my doctor said differently. I do understand the draw of using these machines and to make it more inviting to younger generations, but I ask you to consider the health issues it does in fact cause for some. Asthma attach, loss of voice and less oxygen. It is not without side effects.

  15. paul says:

    I mean really, are a guys in a daze or what? Why du need to create an ambient atmosphere using haze machines, just so u can see the lites. It sounds like a show, not an act of worship, if u need all this extra stuff, just to thank the Lord for he’s done in your lives. I guess its just a faze people are going thro….

  16. paul says:

    I mean really, are u guys in a daze or what? Why du need to create an ambient atmosphere using haze machines, just so u can see the lites. It sounds like a stage show, not an act of worship, if u need all this extra stuff, just to thank the Lord for all he’s done in your lives. I guess its just a faze, people are going thro….

    • Tyler Hanson says:

      Hey Paul!

      You said it best: creating an “ambient atmosphere” is what attracts newer, unchurched generations.

      I know my grandparents said the same thing about drums at church (“rock and roll can’t be worship!”), my parents said the same thing about screens at church (“if it’s not in the Bible, we don’t need to see it!”), and even I am saying that I don’t really see the need for Production-level lights in worship, but the fact remains: we are supposed to be part of the great commission — and those of us that use production to create ambient atmospheres are using it as a means to an end: the next generation can find God in a different way than you or I found Him.

      Those of us that use production to deliver His message believe it’s the widest net to cast, and the numbers (at least right now) prove that.

      You might be right that haze may be a phase, but that is the exciting thing about God: He uses whatever current technology available to spread His message in new ways.

      I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.

  17. Ryan says:

    ! READ THIS!
    If you have some hard edge lights (automated lights, follow spots, leikos, etc.) you do not need haze thicker if you want it the beam to be seen until it hits its target. This depends on how your haze is angled, what kind of fluid you have, the fluid to fan ratio, an external fan placement, etc. You might need more than one hazer. HAZING A ROOM DOES NOT TAKE 5 MINS. Using haze and getting it to disperse takes a little while. Put a box fan somewhere in front of it. If you want the haze to be thin, keep the hazer in a lower level.

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