November 2009 Issue
Buyer's Guide

Haze Machines

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The history of haze machines is a bit foggy, but it seems that Reel EFX DF-50 haze machines have been around since Juliet first uttered to Romeo, “Wherefore art thou Romeo? I dost not see thee through yonder haze.”

It wasn’t until much later, when the Beatles wrote about their independence vanishing in the haze, that it was brought to the concert stages. But it was Jimi Hendrix who galvanized the industry when he summarized a lighting scene with crisscrossing beams of ACLs using Lee 181 on a haze-filled stage by singing, “Purple haze all in my brain.” In between, the technology has not changed dramatically.

That could all change in the near future. Up until now, control systems have been one-way (unidirectional) commands sent to a machine to control the on/off, duration, and sometimes the intensity of the output and possibly the fan speed. But factor in a two-way (bidirectional) control system and the entire game changes.

Think of the possibilities. Not only can we send commands to a machine but we can also monitor everything about the machine — fluid level, temperature, voltage, current, and more. Then the operator could anticipate problems before they are manifested as a loss of interference medium on stage. Add some fog or haze sensors and now the system becomes a self-regulating environment with operator monitoring and intervention.

The good news is that the technology now exists. By using RDM (E1.20: Remote Device Management Over DMX512 Networks) the two-way communication is accomplished and anything that can be configured on the machine can be done at the console, anything that can be monitored electronically can be reported back to the operator, and anything that can be accessorized can be made to be RDM-enabled. For a fog or haze manufacturer to take a particle sensor and convert it to a fog or haze sensor may not be trivial but it’s as close as it gets.

RDM-enabled fog and haze machines are only starting to find their place in the market. But the first time Coldplay or Radiohead sings about how a tech didn’t have to climb the truss to refill the reservoir in a haze machine because the operator was monitoring the fluid level before the show started, then every manufacturer will rush to add RDM capability to their machines.

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