Whether it is at a wedding reception or one of the worlds’ top nightclubs it’s likely that most DJs will use some form of atmospherics in their set.
What are “Atmospherics”?
Atmospherics are any kind of special effect that a DJ or venue may use that can’t be described as ‘lighting’. The most common atmospheric used by DJs is smoke but there a wide variety of different effects available to the modern DJ and we will have a brief look at the most popular ones in this guide.
Smoke machines are possibly the oldest and most common form of atmospheric used by DJs. The reason smoke machines have become so popular is because they enhance your lightshow by allowing the beams of your lights to be visible. This is particularly effective when using lasers, scanners, moving heads or any lighting fixture that is designed to create an aerial effect. Smoke will also, by itself, create a visible effect particularly when used in large quantities.
Smoke machines are probably the cheapest of the atmospherics starting at less than £30. The American DJ Mini Fog, for example, can be yours for £29.99 which even includes a small bottle of smoke fluid to get you started. This kind of smoke machine is perfect for house parties or mobile DJs performing in smaller venues.
Smoke machines are often called ‘Foggers’ so if you hear this term being used then don’t get confused as they will still be talking about smoke machines. Whatever the application there will be a suitable machine for you from cheap-and-compact to machines such beasts as the Fogtec VP-2500 which will fill nightclubs and larger venues with ease (and everything in-between).
Smoke machines use standard, water-based smoke fluid which is inexpensive and completely non-toxic. There are various types of fluid available from ‘standard’ fluids to the type that will make your smoke denser, less dense or even cling to the ground to create a ‘dry ice’ effect.
So, whether you’re a mobile DJ, in a band, own a pub, bar or club or even if you have a load of mates round for a party there will be a smoke machine for you. Check out range HERE.
Similar to the smoke machines above, haze machines (or ‘Hazers’) are designed to maximise the effect of your lightshow by allowing the beams to become visible.
Whereas smoke machines will create an intermittent ‘burst’ of smoke creating a white cloud, a haze machine will consistently emit a light ‘haze’ which will still bring out the light beams but will be barely visible to the naked eye.
Haze machines are most commonly used in theatre and stage productions where the effect to smoke is desirable but a cloud of white smoke would reduce visibility of the stage or performers. For the same reason, haze may be used by bands and in TV and film (Who Wants to be a Millionaire, for example, would have used haze rather than smoke).
Haze machines are becoming increasingly popular with mobile DJs as certain venues no longer allow the use of smoke (contrary to common belief this isn’t due to smoke detectors but rather to a lack of visibility on CCTV).
These machines do exactly what they say on the tin and create a quantity of bubbles using standard, non-toxic bubble fluid.
Bubble machines are a popular addition for childrens’ parties but are also used a lot on-stage, in nightclubs and at West Ham football ground. Obviously the size of machine required depends entirely on the application and machines range from the sub-£20 mini bubble machines which are perfect for kids parties to the mammoth machines like the Antari B200 which will fill a nightclub with bubbles and features on-board DMX control. Although some machines offer intelligent control, most bubble machines will be a simple on/off affair allowing easy plug-and-play operation.
Snow machines are getting increasingly popular and increasingly affordable as a result. The concept is quite obvious, create an effect that makes it look like it’s snowing (even if it’s the middle of July and 30-degrees in the shade).
With the exception of top-end theatrical machines (as used in TV and film and costing thousands), snow machines are designed to create an aerial effect but won’t settle. Most machines use foam fluid which is pumped through filters at high pressure creating hundreds and thousands of small ‘flakes’ which fall slowly (just like the real stuff).
Snow machines start at less than £50 for a machine that will comfortably handle a small mobile disco or Christmas party (such as the FXLab Snow storm for £44.99).
Snow machines are commonly used on stage but are increasingly popular with mobile DJs (particularly at Christmas) and can serve as a useful ‘paid extra’ when booking festive gigs. Check out our range of snow machines at whybuynew or by clicking HERE.
We’ve all seen pictures of, or possibly attended, a big foam party in a club in Ibiza with hundreds of clubbers upto their necks in foam.
The main problem with foam machines is that the average venue is unlikely to let you use a foam machine as, although it’s non-staining, they will leave behind a very wet floor. Also, what seems like a great laugh on a Balearic island in July might not have the same impact at the Dog and Duck in November for Brians 50th birthday.
Still, if you fancy giving a foam party a go then we can happily supply you with the Antari S120 which will do the job just nicely and for less than £250.
Massively popular in 80’s music videos for some reason, dry ice is the smoke that sits on the floor and makes everyone on top of it look like they’re walking on a cloud.
Dry Ice is a lovely idea for the first dance at a wedding or for your band BUT it does have a few drawbacks. The equipment required to make real dry ice is painfully expensive, very bulky and not exactly user-friendly (dry ice has to be handled with gloves).
However, worry not, as there are now ‘low fog’ machines that will recreate the effect of dry ice by using standard smoke fluid and regular out-of-the-freezer ice cubes. These machines are much more user-friendly and affordable (the best-selling Mister Kool by ADJ for example is around £100).
If you’ve ever seen one of those clubs in Ibiza which looks like it has the biggest smoke machine in the world then it is probably, actually, CO2.
CO2 is carbon dioxide which when compressed gives off a powerful ‘smoke’ effect which quickly disperses. CO2 is often used in nightclubs as is creates a very visible effect and has the welcome side effect of cooling the crowd (CO2 is used in fire extinguishers).
You will rarely see CO2 used in smaller clubs or mobile discos as there are certain risks associated with its use and the equipment is very expensive, for this reason you won’t find CO2 products on our website. If you are seriously interested in CO2 for your venue though, give our sales team a call as we can source the equipment to order.
Fireworks and stuff…leave this one to Simon Cowell, it’s not for us!
Thanks for reading and I hope this guide has been of help when deciding what atmospherics will be right for your next gig or event.
As always, if you’d like any further information or advice on the best equipment for you then please don’t hesitate to call our friendly, knowledgeable sales team on 01206 855010.
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