A Fog Wall Reveal

by Jim Hutchison • in
  • February 2019
  • Focus on FX
• Created: February 11, 2019

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Vario Aqua Low Fog machines from AES and MT Electronic created a vanishing wall of fog.

Subaru Uses Heavy Fog Screen to Conceal and Reveal New STI S209 in Detroit

This year’s Detroit Auto Show saw, as with every year of the iconic automotive industry trade show, some excellent applications of technology to reveal new vehicles and automotive technology. Subaru this year unveiled its STI S209 to the American market, with the help of Las Vegas special effects firm Advanced Entertainment Services, using a unique heavy fog screen technology requiring no chilling of any kind. This product is called the Vario Aqua Low Fog machine from AES and MT-Electronic out of Austria. AES is the exclusive distributor for the product in the U.S.

With the car still under wraps

‡‡         No Chilling Required

“The Vario technology is revolutionary because it needs no chilling component, such as nitrogen, CO2, or mechanical chillers, to make incredible heavy-fog,” says Matt Dillingham of Advanced Entertainment Services. “We don’t need large tanks of carbon dioxide placed remotely to make this effect system work, which is one of its key selling features. We created a fog wall in a semi-circle around the new Subaru, and they showed their video directly onto the fog wall,” says Dillingham. “Meanwhile, behind the fog wall, the car was uncovered, and once the fog wall subsided, the car was shown uncovered.”

The reveal of Subaru’s STI S209 vehicle made possible with a smooth, electrifying combination of video, the Vario low fog system, and video projection. As the reveal process began, a truss was lowered above the new vehicle, and a heavy curtain of fog was created all around the covered vehicle. In the span of a few seconds, the vehicle was encompassed in a curtain of fog thick enough to be used as a projection surface. Video was projected onto the fog curtain, allowing crew to discretely remove the cover from the car. Once the flow from the Vario machines was cut off, the product’s fog literally disappeared within seconds, revealing Subaru’s new product in a well-coordinated mix of production technology.

“We were actually able to mount the Vario machines directly to the truss in this rig, which would have been a challenge using conventional low fog machines that use high pressure delivery hoses from supply tanks,” Dillingham states. “This is one of the many reasons this new product is so effective — we don’t have to secure any large tanks or ducting to make this work, and it worked beautifully.”

The Vario Aqua Fog system, patent pending, produces low fog without the need for carbon dioxide, dry ice, or a chiller of any kind. Vario creates continuous, optimal low fog, even at high ambient temperature — the unit has been tested to function perfectly at 98°F. Fog output and height is adjustable, and the system runs via DMX as standard operating mode in which the pump, fan, and water mist can be adjusted separately.

The fog lights up as it conceals the car

‡‡         Very Low Operating Costs

The Vario system provides continuous output at a very low operating cost (about $4 for 10 minutes of constant low fog). The system also uses no glycol in its fluid, which means that there is no slippery, oily residue when running the effect for extended periods of time. “We’ve been using these machines on the L.A. Clippers games, and have had no problems whatsoever in that very controlled environment,” Dillingham says.

The Vario units come in five models with different wattages — Vario 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 — with wattage ranges between 1.7kW and 5.5kW, respectively. Warm-up times for the Vario product range from 8 to 10 minutes, with fog volume ranging between 3,000 CFM and 8,400 CFM, depending on the model. The interfaces on the Vario machines are simple and user-friendly: PowerCON True1, or L21-30, depending upon the model, on the power input side, and 3-pin and 5-pin input and through for DMX control. DMX addressing, RDM functionality, and other machine settings are accomplished via an LCD back panel.

AES has been incorporating the new technology in several of their events with complete success. “We’ve been swapping traditional machines out for the Vario machines for several events now, with success,” Dillingham says. “We’ve used them on the NBA All-Star Game, PAC-12 basketball, we just did the Manny Pacquiao fight where Manny walked through the fog curtain — they produce a very high-quality curtain with a fraction of the needed equipment of the traditional chiller machinery.”

The Aqua Low Fog Vario 6 is a 3.4kW model in the Aqua series.

‡‡         Glycol-Free Heavy Fog

Vario uses a water atomization technique that makes the fog heavy so that it keeps the fog low to the ground. Old machines like nitrogen or CO2-based machines, rely on the coldness of the refrigerant to chill the fog and make it heavy, but the drawback is that you need tanks of refrigerant to provide the effect. “The issue with older style machines is that, once the fog starts to warm, it starts to rise,” Dillingham says. “We don’t see that with the Vario product. This is a totally different concept. The market acceptance of the technology has been amazing — AES has been working with Actor’s Equity to get certification, and we expect that to happen soon. This is really a state-of-the-art change for our industry, and it’s revolutionizing the way things have been done for the last 10 to 15 years.”

Side view of the unit

For more information, visit www.aespyro.com and www.mt-electronic.com.

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