Haze Days

26 10 2010

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.  In fact recently a few people have asked me how much haze they should use, and when multiple people ask me the same question it’s time to write some thoughts down for a blog post.

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 some lighting techniques and strategy that will go a long way to helping your lighting and haze be more effective, and I’ll address those in another post in the future, but now we’re talking about how much haze is needed to be effective.   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 and then it will thin out some during the message.  Generally it thins out down low and works it’s way up so you end up still seeing some haze up higher near the lights which I personally think looks great, but again it’s all personal preference.

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: One thing to keep in mind here, 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 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.

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One response

28 10 2010
Bill Reevees

Thanks for the haze tips. I appreciate you sharing your insight.

My church has used haze on a couple occasions so I am no where near the expert you are. Here are some observations I had.

Due our air handling system, we had to turn our HVAC off during services or the haze wasn’t strong enough to be effective. We seat around 900 so the space isn’t as huge as some, but we have great air movement.

We also anticipated complaints from the congregation. With that in mind, we printed copies of a spec sheet that indicated the haze was water based and didn’t cause breathing problems. By distributing these, we were able to help people be more accepting of the haze.

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