Special effects are a significant part of the concert and live show experience. They add to the palpable excitement of watching your favourite artists and elevate the show. Technological advancements have also continued to expand the possibilities, allowing for even more creative use of time-tested special effects.
But while innovative applications have enhanced special effects, the core elements mostly remain the same. This means that special effects remain accessible even for those without massive budgets.
This article lists eight special effects you can use to amplify your next concert and make it a memorable experience for those who attend it.
In conjunction with lighting, different levels of smoke effects have been used virtually since the dawn of live shows. And it’s because smoke is great for adding drama to the atmosphere.
It’s important to note the difference between smoke, fog, and haze. Smoke from smoke machines rises and dissipates around the area while the cold liquid particles from low fog machines remain close to the ground. Meanwhile, haze machines produce a fine and subtle haze that lingers in the air longer. Haze plays tremendously with varying lighting effects and allows you to see light rays and patterns you otherwise wouldn’t.
Here are other key differences:
- Smoke – Smoke machines use special fluid to produce thick white smoke.
- Fog – Low fog machines are similar to dry ice machines. They produce thick, opaque fog that stays close to the ground. This creates a sea of clouds effect. Low fog machines produce intense bursts compared to a hazer, which gives off a subtle diffusion of smoke.
- Haze – Haze machines (hazers as they’re more commonly called) can be oil- or water-based. Because they produce fine mist, they have more hang time than the smoke produced by the previous two contraptions. And while all three work great with lighting effects, hazers work best with lasers and other light beams.
If you can, combining all three would be great. An amalgamation of the three elements will set unique moods for varied tempo songs.
Additionally, dry ice machines are an excellent alternative if you’re on a budget. They’re more compact compared to more elaborate smoke machines, making them ideal for smaller venues. Plus, they’re accessible since you’ll be able to find more renters and retailers easily.
- Pixel lighting
Pixel lighting offers plenty of room for creative applications with its customisable nature. Whether it’s dancing lights that move along with the beat or creating a vibe distinct to the artist, pixel lighting can give concertgoers something they don’t always see.
These days, lasers can do more than just shoot rainbow rays of light since you can now add various shapes, texts, and other effects. They’re even being used in marketing animation and brand storytelling. Another good thing about lasers is that they aren’t limited in range compared to other lighting effect options, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor events.
- Mirror ball
Another live event staple, mirror balls exude a more old-school vibe to shows. They also work exceptionally well with different lighting effects, adding room for creativity. And they’re best suited for disco and starry-night-themed galas.
There’s a kid in every concertgoer. This makes using bubbles a sure-fire hit, particularly for more light-hearted and cheery numbers. And when paired with various lights, bubbles can truly lift the mood.
If you really want to go out with a bang, employing flame machines is the way to go. Shooting fire from the stage gets everyone’s attention and serves as the perfect tool to create a crescendo of excitement.
Sparklers are a must-have for any dazzling show too. They’re excellent for pivotal moments, drawing attention and energy from the crowd. The introduction of cold sparklers (made from powder that pops more in cooler temperatures) has also made these effects much safer.
Another oldie-but-goodie, confetti are a staple for grand reveals or ending shows. And depending on the size of the venue, you can use either a confetti canon or gun. For smaller ones like New York’s Bodega, the latter should suffice. A word to the wise, though, you probably wouldn’t want to pair the use of confetti with the previous two, however safer the latter has become.
With live events in full swing, audiences bring heightened excitement when attending shows. As such, concert producers are keen to showcase exciting events. If you’re looking to spruce up your next concert, consider the list of special effects list above and see which ones suit your style and fit your budget. You’ll surely appreciate the energy return from the crowd because of them.