CO2 in the Entertainment Industry

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has been used to amplify special effects in the entertainment industry for a long time. The gas is cooled to a liquid to easily (and economically) achieve special effects like fog and haze. Most have seen haze effects at concerts to emphasize a spotlight or on TV for cloud effects.

Low-lying fog effects can be created by using liquid CO2 that is typically stored in compressed cylinders. Low-lying fog is a result of the liquid CO2 being used to chill theatrical fog which then creates a denser fog that stays very low to the ground. Fog can also be created inexpensively by using dry ice. Technicians can heat water to boiling or near boiling temperatures in large containers and then place 1-2 pieces of dry ice in those containers. Since carbon dioxide does not exist as a liquid in atmospheric pressure, it instantly becomes a gas. Typically there is a fan at the top of the container to then blow that gas into the desired direction for the fog effects.

Liquid CO2 by itself can be used as an atmospheric fog in place of pyrotechnics. This can be done by releasing liquid CO2 in air via an electric solenoid valve. When the CO2 expands to a vapor and condenses moisture in the air, large clouds of gas are created. This method of fog creation is frequently used in magic act since the CO2 vapor quickly dissolves once the solenoid valve is closed.

The entertainment industry not only consumes copious amounts of CO2, but produces high levels of carbon emissions as well. This is due to transportation, onsite generators and pyrotechnical effects that require the CO2 gas. Therefore the Producers Guild of America has created the Green Production Guide to reduce carbon emissions on various film and TV production sets.

To learn more about CO2 and its effects, contact your local PurityPlus partner.