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REVIEWED
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Equinox Arcus 2000 Low Fogger
The Equinox Arcus 2000 Low Fogger is a lot of name; it’s also a lot of machine! If you haven’t heard of a low fogger before, which is quite possible as the technology is still very new, it’s a kind of hybrid between haze and dry ice. But without the need to actually buy dry ice, which – as anyone who has ever waited nervously for delivery of the magic ingredient on event day will tell you – could be quite an advantage.

I’m sure you have seen the low-lying dry ice effect, if not actually used it yourself, it is dramatic, looks fabulous in photos and provides loads of atmosphere. There are some drawbacks though: the sourcing of the ice itself (not cheap), the fact that it melts, the need to handle it very carefully, the fact that it doesn’t last all that long, and that it can be (depending on which machine you use) quite difficult to trigger effectively. The Arcus 2000, as a low fogger, gets rid of all of these problems, but brings in one small, but important, additional consideration (more of which later).

A wedding first dance, done properly, really sets the tone for the night in my experience. I like to ensure all of the guests are where I want them – surrounding the dance floor. I also want to make sure everyone is engaged in this magical moment with a great introduction and a seamless transition into the couple’s chosen song. Adding a low-lying dry ice effect produces a real ‘wow’ moment, but significantly complicates all of the above. I like to think I’m pretty experienced at producing this magical effect, but I still find it fairly stressful. This is because from the moment I put ice into the basket, some of the effect is escaping so the game is largely given away (which is a shame) and we are now on a bit of a countdown – the ice is melting, the water is cooling and a 10kg bag will only last around 3 – 4 minutes.

Indeed, occasionally, after setting everything up, making sure the couple are in place, the photographer is where he or she should be and the audience is in position, we have a sudden interruption. For example the realisation that one of the bridesmaids is in the toilet or the wedding coordinator is now going home and wants to say goodbye to the couple… Oh just please will you all hurry up before the ice melts and I can’t do my effect!?

Anyway, enough of my little nightmares! This fantastic machine from the Prolight Concepts Group takes care of all of that. At the press of a button – on the machine, using the handy remote or through a DMX controller – you have an instant cloud magically hugging the floor and, what’s more, as long as you have the fluids needed, you can use it all night long! This really is a machine that can produce cloud after cloud instantly and reliably, with the most amazing ability to hug the floor.

The Cloud

The cloud produced by the Arcus 2000 is subtly different to that of a dry ice low fog machine. The best way of explaining this difference is that it’s more compact. It actually hugs the floor lower than dry ice and also lasts a lot longer too. Given a room with still air and no really big drafts, the cloud lasts for ages and ages. Indeed, when I tested it recently at a prom, I had a lovely hazy cloud over the dancefloor for ages, which was a really magical way to welcome guests for the evening. It’s actually also quite a ‘spooky’ cloud. I initially thought it was just me, but it was the word the venue staff used the moment they saw it. It moves very differently to anything I’ve seen before – once it hits an object, it seems to bounce back and produces waves, very much like you see on a beach.

Which brings us to the consideration you need to allow for mentioned earlier. When the cloud does reach objects, a certain amount of the haze will go up. It’s a small amount, small enough to not be a major consideration at the venue I used to test the machine, even with smoke detectors all on, but it’s definitely something you should be aware of. For my test event, I had near on 200 16 year olds enjoying the cloud at regular intervals and, of course, they liked to kick out at it! This meant that I soon had both lots of clouds and also a great lightshow-enhancing haze effect all night – really very effective.

The Science

So how does the magic of a ground-hugging cloud without the need for ice happen? In order to run the Arcus 2000 you need two fluids: low fog and distilled water. As is the case for all effects machines, you need to go with the recommended fluids – this will ensure a good long life for the machine and also that your warranty remains valid.

I found filling the machine straightforward, though it was quite hard to spot the ‘max’ level for the water reservoir – once you have located it you’re fine, but I needed a torch to see in for the first use. Warm up is fast; the manual says 4 minutes, but it seemed much quicker to me. And, once warmed up, you’re good to go. What happens then is very clever indeed. There is an ‘ultrasonic’ agitator onboard which turns the water into a ground-hugging low mist, which is combined with fog to provide a lovely cloud-like effect.

The machine has tank capacities of 7 litres and 1.2 litres, for distilled water and low fog fluid respectively. And, for my test, very little of either fluid or water was used, so long-term the Arcus 2000 will prove to be very economical. The heating element for the haze is rated at 1500W and the advertised output is 2,800 cu. ft per minute.

For DMX control, the machine requires three channels and is fitted with 5-pin DMX input and output sockets. This means you’ll need 3-to-5 converter cables if the rest of your system uses the more common (in the DJ world) 3-pin DMX connectors. Power is supplied to the machine using an (increasingly-prevalent) locking powerCON socket, which removes the potential for the power being accidentally disconnected by someone standing on the lead.

You are able to adjust, via the onboard control panel or through DMX, the ratio of fog fluid to water, which varies the cloud density and how long the effect lasts. In a venue with particularly sensitive smoke alarms, you will want to reduce the fog accordingly – a bit of experimentation should get you the right effect without upsetting the alarms!

General use of the machine is intuitive; the LED panel, which has very straightforward buttons, is simple to use and feels high quality. I found using the supplied wireless remote to be the simplest way to conduct my test, however I would – without a doubt – use DMX for bigger events. There is also a supplied hose and floor attachment making it easy and simple to direct the output. Additionally, there is also an optional flightcase available. Though I’m not sure ‘optional’ is the right word; an effect machine as big (and heavy – it comes in at 22kg) as the Arcus 2000 needs a proper flightcase, and the purpose-built one is perfect for the job.

If you have a need to replace your existing dry ice machine, or are looking to produce a low-lying fog effect for the first time, the Arcus 2000 Low Fogger should definitely be on your shortlist to look at. Long term, it will prove extremely cost effective and it can be used for much longer periods than traditionally associated with this type of effect. Combined with a DMX controller, it will give you a lot of flexibility allowing you to output water vapour alone, or combine it with low fog fluid for denser effects, in a controlled way.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 97, Pages 72-74.
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