“We chose the MDG ATMe AR system because we wanted a permanent, controllable, low maintenance solution that was of high quality and completely reliable,” says Rob Burrows, technical manager at indigo at the O2. “We use a lot of haze here – on average running the machines for 10-12 hours a day at 170 events a year - but don’t have house technicians, so a low-maintenance system was key. When Matt Wiseman of MDG FOG UK showed me the Auto Refill system it ticked all the boxes. An auto-refilling system in this type of environment is ideal as the bulk reserve of fluid and gas don’t need constant refilling and require minimal attendance outside routine cleaning.”
The two ATMe AR haze generators are both rigged at height on truss mount brackets – one in the roof of the auditorium and one above the stage right wings – and only accessible with a ladder.
“The major advantage of the AR system is that any consumables are not deployed at the generator end so we don't need to take the fluid to the machines in their elevated positions, or access them outside of the standard annual service,” says Burrows. “We simply refill the reservoir in one the easily accessible location and it keeps both the ATMe AR units fed remotely. The gas supply is the same with the CO2 gas cylinder stored outside under the shelter of the Dome’s tent-like structure. This leaves us free to rig the ATMe AR generators in inconspicuous places so no-one knows where they are…and there you have it - invisible machines, invisible effect!”
The MDG ATMe AR system was designed by MDG, supplied by AC-Entertainment Technologies and installed by the resident team at indigo at the O2. The system uses non-corroding brass connectors and plastic semi-rigid pipework for maximum durability and ease of installation.
“The installation was a doddle!” says Burrows. “It took us just four hours in total - two hours to install the pipework and the rest to hang the machines. MDG designed a bespoke system to meet our requirements and it arrived ready to install from AC-ET. We just cut the pipes to length, installed and connected them using the push-fit connectors which were so quick and easy.
From the pressurised reservoir the gas and fluid are sent to the two ATMe AR machines in two separate feeds to maintain a constant supply of fluid and gas. “It is the use of pressurised gas that makes the MDG machines silent and dispenses with the need for noisy, high-maintenance pumps,” says Burrows. “Gas is far more efficient.”
So why choose MDG?
“MDG is, quite frankly, the best haze you can get,” confirms Burrows. “I like the fact that the particles are so fine that you can’t see the haze until you shine a beam through it. It has a great hang time and is very controllable right down to the tiniest volume. The haze is pure white so from a lighting designer’s perspective, the lighting always looks wonderful. And from an artist’s point of view, because the installation is high up, there is no obvious source of haze, so the artists don't have the perception they are surrounded by haze. This is less distressing to an artist and leads to fewer complaints.”
Indigo at the O2 hosts many music, corporate, sporting and comedy events, all of which use haze and many of which are broadcast. “Haze is used heavily during broadcasts where it is especially nice and looks good for camera,” says Burrows. “The fact the ATMe AR produces a dry haze means there are no problems of residue on the stage or the broadcast equipment beyond standard cleaning routines.”
Burrows is also happy with the amount of coverage delivered by the two ATMe AR generators which cover the stage and auditorium areas evenly from top to bottom without the aid of fans.
“We don’t use fans at all as the air conditioning is enough to disperse the haze. The combination of the position of the ATMe AR units and the fact we have no air conditioning over the stage works in our favour. We find the aircon in the auditorium blows the haze lightly onto stage and gives really even coverage with no obvious ‘puffs’ of haze. I like this lack of extra fans as we don’t have to balance the amount of unnatural movement we introduce into the air and, of course, it means reduced noise and less maintenance.”
Fluid consumption has proved exceedingly economical as the AR system was installed in March and, seven months later, has yet to be refilled: “I’ve just ordered 20lts more fluid, but mainly so we have some in reserve for the busy period coming up.
“We are delighted to have gone down the permanent installation route for our haze requirements and chosen to work with MDG,” concludes Burrows. “The system is super simple to manage – just a change of gas when required and an occasional refill of that massive reservoir. Having had years of previous experience with MDG, I have always loved the brand. Now the system is up and running my faith has been justified.”