Dry mist diffuses lighting in a immersive museum

Realistic Fake Fire: Igniting Visual Effects in Entertainment

Published: 6 March 2024

Captivating an audience requires more than just talent; it calls for innovation. Among the various tools theater and movie technicians use, realistic fake fire is vital in elevating on-stage visual effects.

While there are several ways of recreating the effect of fire, from traditional silk flames to pyrotechnics, modern technology allows for new special effects methods that capture the audience's attention, indoors and outdoors, without posing any health or safety risk to the performers and audience.

What Is Fake Fire and How Is It Used to Enhance Visual Effects?

Fake fire, or simulated fire, is a visual effect that safely emulates real fire’s flickering, dancing flames. It can enhance a production’s ambiance, storytelling, or visual spectacle. There are many ways to create fake fire, including practical effects, optical illusions, and digital projection.

Fake Fire vs. Real Fire Effects

When creating realistic fire effects for stage or on-screen performances, the key difference between fake and real fire is that fake fire doesn't produce heat. Therefore, you can use fake fire indoors, outdoors, and in confined spaces without posing a safety risk while still enhancing the visual appeal of the stage setting with the illusion of a real fire. 

Due to fake fire’s versatility, it is an important special effects element in the entertainment industry. Incorporating realistic fake fire into the stage design enhances the aesthetics, amplifies the lighting, and sets the required mood, creating an immersive atmosphere.

Applications of Fake Fire in Entertainment

Fake fire has a wide range of applications in the entertainment industry.

Theatrical Productions

There are instances when the theater producer may require a fire in the production. However, creating a real fire on the set is dangerous without a trained professional. Fake fire can help achieve the desired outcome without risking the actors’ safety on stage. It also allows actors to interact with flames safely while maintaining the illusion of danger.

Concerts and Music Events

Pyrotechnics are often used for larger stage productions. However, it comes with risks and requires dedicated technicians and safety staff to set up and execute the effects. Fake fire can achieve similar results without the potential for accidents.

Theme Parks and Attractions

Glycol-based fog fluid strikes a balance between water and oil-based options, creating a subtle and lingering haze that is perfect for dream sequences or romantic moments. It produces dense, long-lasting fog suitable for indoor and outdoor use, offering better visibility than oil-based fog fluid and leaving minimal residues on surfaces and equipment.

This versatile fluid is used in theatrical, film, and television productions, concerts, theme parks, and special events. However, higher temperatures may be required to work properly in colder environments.

Fog Machine Fluid Applications in Special Effects

Some of the standard applications of fog machine fluid in special effects include:

Theatrical Productions

Fog machine fluid can be used to elevate the atmosphere and mood in theatrical productions. Fog envelopes the stage, setting the tone for performances and immersing the audience in the story.

Moreover, it enhances stage lighting effects as the interplay of light and mist intensifies emotions and heightens suspense.

Film and Television Productions

In film and television productions, fog machine fluid can be used to generate ambiance and realism by adding authenticity to scenes. The fog acts as a silent character that shapes the narrative. It also helps to separate the foreground from the background, making sets appear larger and more immersive.

Theme Parks and Attractions

Often, the goal of theme parks is to provide an unforgettable, immersive experience to its guests. Incorporating fake fire is the best option for attractions and rides in confined spaces. It is also easier to customize and control the intensity of fake fire, creating the ideal mood while keeping everyone safe.

Special Events

Apart from theaters, live events, and theme parks, you can use fake fire in settings like corporate events, weddings, and birthdays. Fake fire can enhance the professional ambiance of corporate events, creating an elegant and refined atmosphere. In addition, it adds sophistication to private parties, giving a touch of class.

Using Mist Machines and Hazers for Fake Fire

A popular choice for creating fake fire is projecting flame-colored lighting through fine mist particles. Unlike fog machines, which produce dense fog, mist machines and hazers primarily utilize water to generate mist particles that are ideal for creating fake fire. The fine mist particles allow for better light diffusion, which magnifies the visuals and enhances the atmospheric effects. The size of the mist droplets can also be controlled, affecting the visibility and dispersal rate of the mist.

When combining light with mist vapor, the trick lies in simulating the illusion of flames. The mist serves as a canvas similar to fire that the flickering light can diffuse through.

Using mist machines and hazers to create fake fire effects has numerous advantages.

  • Versatility
  • Safety
  • Consistency
  • Enhanced ambiance
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Ease of use
  • Environmental control

Techniques for Realistic Fake Fire Effects with Mist

There are several techniques for combining mist and light to create realistic fake fire effects.


Layers of mist can be created with varying densities by adjusting the outputs of multiple mist machines. This layering technique adds dimensionality and depth, giving the illusion that the fake fire has varying intensities and burns at different temperatures.


Timing the mist output to match lighting effects, such as pulsing or the flickering of flames, can result in a convincing and dynamic fire display. The precise synchronization emulates the natural movement of flames and the changing intensity of a fire.


Utilizing ultrasonic vibrations or fans to influence the movement of the mist can simulate the flicker and sway of real flames. Fine-tuning this aspect requires care to prevent the mist from dissipating too quickly or moving unnaturally.

Sound Effects Integration

Sound effects such as crackling or popping can reinforce the experience and complete the multisensory illusion of a real fire.

Fake Fire Innovation with Panasonic

Panasonic’s state-of-the-art misting system is designed to use pure tap water to generate ultra-fine mist. Unlike most misting machines that require high pressure, Panasonic’s system uses three optional types of energy-efficient, low-pressure nozzles to produce fine particles that evaporate quickly, leaving no residue on surfaces, making it ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Whether incorporating Panasonic’s misting system into a standard lighting setup that diffuses light through the mist or using a wall of mist for projection mapping, you can achieve your ideal fake flame effects. These effects are accomplished by connecting the misting system to a programmable DMX controller that sends digital signals to the system that control flow, density, speed, duration, and dispersion in synchronization with lighting and audio.

Panasonic Misting System Case Studies

Panasonic’s case studies showcase innovative applications of its mist technology in a variety of settings.

Expo 2020 Dubai-Japan Pavilion

Monet's painting is projected onto the path to the castle tower of Kochi Castle using a projector, and the light is diffused by mist.

Panasonic’s mist technology was utilized at the Expo 2020 Dubai-Japan Pavilion in an interactive installation that blurred the lines between the virtual and the physical. Through a delicate veil mist, images seemingly materialized out of thin air, captivating the audience and fostering a sense of unity between technology and human experience.

Kaiju no Sumika

A 20m long dome built in a museum in Milan

In the Kaiju no Sumika experience, Panasonic’s ultra-fine mist technology was combined with laser lighting to create an illusion of distorted space-time. Visitors embraced the science fiction reality, where the boundaries of time and space were playfully manipulated.


A family of four enjoys playing in the yard.

The (MU) Room was designed to encapsulate a symphony of sensory elements. Panasonic’s combination of controlled mist, strategic lighting, color, aroma, and sound created an experience that was not merely seen or heard but felt.

The infinity room is an art installation that evokes a sense of boundlessness and wonder. It draws inspiration from the concept of dissolving boundaries, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The Frieze Los Angeles installation used Panasonic’s misting system as a captivating backdrop to blend art, technology, and nature.

Enhance Realistic Fake Fire with Panasonic’s Misting System

Elevate your fake fire with Panasonic's innovative misting system. Our state-of-the-art technology excels in enhancing a variety of visual effects. If you are in the special effects industry, be sure to contact Panasonic to learn more about our misting system and how it can elevate your production’s effects into an art form.

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