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Hey all.

Sorry if this has already been asked and answered before, but searches couldn't find it but that doesn't mean much.

This is my first foray into any kind of special effects so assume I know absolutely nothing, but I'm excited to learn and try.

My boss made the mistake choice to finally after a few years of begging leave me in charge of doing up the storefront for Halloween, (I have no budget from work, it’s on me to buy equipment I will keep after the event and bring it in to use).

I have it in mind to go simple but impressive and felt the best way to maximize visual impact while keeping the budget reasonable was to go with something I’ve always wanted to try, a fog machine!
My hope is for a somewhat low fog (1-2ft deep), though I know that’s going to be a product of air temp more than anything.

My concerns and the things I know nothing about and need some help with are these (if the answer is a link to a "fog machines for dummies, awesome whatever recourse I can use to start learning).
1: we lease our space and after the event it needs to be back to how it was before. The room has super thin industrial carpet and painted sheetrock walls, however it has an accent wall that is wood paneling.
2: we have real wood desks (stained oak) in the front office where the fog and decorations will be that can't be damaged by the fog.
3: business still needs to be done that day which includes doing paperwork, signing forms, and selling merchandise which includes postcards, and other paper products.
Will the fog cause damage to any of these things, or is there a right kind of mix or method that will leave them all safe.

The plan would be to have the fog going for the last 4 hours we are open for the day, although only 2 of those are after dark so if a shorter fog duration means the fog can be done at all without damage that’s an option.

If there is a way to do a fog effect that can be done without damage what kind of machine or supplies am I going to need?

A quick look at amazon showed a verity of 400W machines for about $50 give or take, but I have no metric by which to judge them.

The space I want to fog is about 350 square feet, roughly square, and has an attached hallway that’s going to be cut off by a curtain that’s 35 square feet. Rooms leading off this hallway all have doors that will be closed except when people need to walk through.
The main entry is a standard 30 inch door to the sidewalk outside, closed except when people are going in and out, however this presents the main vector through which fog would escape, and the hanging cloud needs to be strong enough to still have its effect when someone comes in even with the loss.
(Traffic is maybe 4-6 door opens/closes per hour though hopefully with Halloween it will be higher)

All AC is provided by a wall mounted unit around 6' off the floor, supplied via a heat pump outside (I read heating elements other than the one in the fog machine near fog are bad, which is why I mention it).

Any help/advice/pointers deeply appreciated.

~L.
 

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Welcome to the forum! I'll try to 'hack' through some of the questions below. Likely others will chime in, too.

My boss made the mistake choice to finally after a few years of begging leave me in charge of doing up the storefront for Halloween, (I have no budget from work, it’s on me to buy equipment I will keep after the event and bring it in to use).
Sounds like a re-negotiation of these terms is in order! Surely the business could chip in something for your time, effort, materials, etc! (JMHO!)

I have it in mind to go simple but impressive and felt the best way to maximize visual impact while keeping the budget reasonable was to go with something I’ve always wanted to try, a fog machine!
My hope is for a somewhat low fog (1-2ft deep), though I know that’s going to be a product of air temp more than anything.
Yes, air temp, humidity, air movement, etc. Ideally, hot and dry and dead still air in the store and you put cool/moist fog into that. There is an encyclopedia of knowledge here in the fog section. But at a minimum, you'd need the fog machine, a box to hold normal ice and ideally some 'freezing' or low-lying fog juice. Of course all of that adds up to $$$! But often you can scrounge an old cooler to use as the fog chiller.

My concerns and the things I know nothing about and need some help with are these (if the answer is a link to a "fog machines for dummies, awesome whatever recourse I can use to start learning).
1: we lease our space and after the event it needs to be back to how it was before. The room has super thin industrial carpet and painted sheetrock walls, however it has an accent wall that is wood paneling.
2: we have real wood desks (stained oak) in the front office where the fog and decorations will be that can't be damaged by the fog.
3: business still needs to be done that day which includes doing paperwork, signing forms, and selling merchandise which includes postcards, and other paper products.
Will the fog cause damage to any of these things, or is there a right kind of mix or method that will leave them all safe.

The plan would be to have the fog going for the last 4 hours we are open for the day, although only 2 of those are after dark so if a shorter fog duration means the fog can be done at all without damage that’s an option.

If there is a way to do a fog effect that can be done without damage what kind of machine or supplies am I going to need?
I would say three factors mainly come into play here... duration you're fogging, 'thickness' of fogging, and proximity of the materials. Running normal fog for several hours one night, or even a couple nights, I would think everything would be OK. You might want to take care to insure the fogger itself is 3-5 feet away from anything which could get damaged, and possibly put something down on the carpet in the immediate area... the fogger itself can sometimes 'spit' juice out and chillers can leak water, or condense 'dew' on the outside which can drip on carpet. But unless you're doing days and days of blinding thick fog, I would not expect an issue with walls and furniture.

Actually, the bigger issue to me would be the 'psychosomatic' effect people may have to the fog. You might run into some people coughing, wheezing, and claiming 'hard to breathe', etc. In a party, I think the mood is generally festive and happy, so possibly not too many complaints. At a business, maybe (hopefully) your situation is different, but around here, I could see someone being 'overcome by smoke' and getting carted out on a stretcher! So you might consider keeping the effect fairly light and confined to some area. Though the fog will eventually lift and may create a 'haze' in the room.

A quick look at amazon showed a verity of 400W machines for about $50 give or take, but I have no metric by which to judge them.

The space I want to fog is about 350 square feet, roughly square, and has an attached hallway that’s going to be cut off by a curtain that’s 35 square feet. Rooms leading off this hallway all have doors that will be closed except when people need to walk through.
The main entry is a standard 30 inch door to the sidewalk outside, closed except when people are going in and out, however this presents the main vector through which fog would escape, and the hanging cloud needs to be strong enough to still have its effect when someone comes in even with the loss.
(Traffic is maybe 4-6 door opens/closes per hour though hopefully with Halloween it will be higher)
That is probably close to the going rate pre-halloween, though you might find some 'half off' specials on Nov 1. The absolute cheapest I see a 400W unit is around $35. I don't think I'm allowed to post a link, but search and you'll probably find it.

Sounds like a fair bit of movement and door openings. The effect can likely still be done with some success, though I would only caution that the "thick swamp of perfectly low-lying fog so thick you can't see your feet" is only achieved in very specific /controlled conditions.

All AC is provided by a wall mounted unit around 6' off the floor, supplied via a heat pump outside (I read heating elements other than the one in the fog machine near fog are bad, which is why I mention it).
Not sure I've heard that bit of lore before. Shouldn't be a problem, but if the heat or AC kicks on, it's obviously going to stir up the low-lying fog and give more of a general haze through the room.

Any help/advice/pointers deeply appreciated.

~L.
Hope this helps!
 

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A quick trip to Google turned up this article with some of the answers you’re looking for:


Potential issues include ventilation, visibility, slippery surfaces, possible triggering of smoke alarms, and (not mentioned in the article but I know this from having played in an orchestra pit during a production where artificial fog was used as an effect) complaints about odor.
Keeping the fog low-lying is always a challenge. There are fog juices formulated to be better at staying low, and you will benefit from using a chiller as part of the set up (do a search on fog chillers here or on the internet and you’ll see many examples of effective homemade fog chillers). Be sure to use a quality fog juice - Froggy’s is an excellent source and their customer service might be able to help you with some of your questions as well.
 

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Ultrasonic mister is a fog effect that only uses water, not a chemical like fog juice. It can be contained in a small area and is great for like a cauldron prop. Amazon and ebay have a ton of them.
 

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Ultrasonic mister is a fog effect that only uses water, not a chemical like fog juice. It can be contained in a small area and is great for like a cauldron prop. Amazon and ebay have a ton of them.
Better yet, run the fog through a tub with an ultrasonic mister and get low fog without the chiller. Or so I understand. I haven’t built one of my own yet to see the results.
 

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MY one add to this FIRST is that it is a business and you should check with the Fire Marshal to see if they will let this happen. They can be very picky about stuff like that.
Good luck and have fun.
 
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