Quick and dirty SFX smoke machine and LED setup

I have always had an urge to play around with video involving smoke and coloured lights. You know – or not– the way that Top Gear used to make a new model of a car appear, with the camera also panning over different sections of the body as the smoke slowly cleared and the lights kept changing colour.

This was usually enhanced with some dramatic music and / or effects to emphasise the drama of the occasion.

Well I have finally got all the bits together to make a mini-version of this. Of course I don’t have access to a large studio, a million dollars worth of lighting, gigantic smoke machines and the like.

But I do have a collapsible light box I got from Camera House for $99, a GoPro 9 and tripod, a $149 fog machine from Jaycar along with a rotating dome prism light ($39.95) and a length of “smart” programmable multi-function LEDs ($49) also from Jaycar.

The methodology was simply. The fog machine was setup on the top shelf of a bookshelf that I got from one of the $2 type shops (in WA we have Red Dot and the Reject Shop) with the GoPro alongside on its tripod. The GoPro was set to video and paired with the GoPro Quik app on my Samsung A71 smartphone so I could trigger and monitor it remotely. (For the next attempt, I’ll use the actual GoPro remote).

The rotating globe light was on the next shelf down.

In the lightbox, I taped the LED strip around the edges and set it via the SmartLife app to “Colourful” on a fast change time between colours. As an aside, this app also controls all my NextTech smart power points, lights and security cameras in the house.

It was then a simple matter to put the model TARDIS in the light box, line up the camera so it was roughly centred, set it recording and hitting the fog button to make the fog enter the lightbox and also fire up the fog machine LEDs.

The rest was up to editing.

This is my very first, very rough attempt and has a long way to go to be as refined as I want it to be. But I think it has proven the point it can be done.


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