Pea Soup Phantom Hazer

Lighting Things I Like

Let’s face it lighting without haze is the equivalent of looking at your Christmas tree lights from across the living room… they can be pretty, but nothing to write home about. However, when we add haze to a room and shoot some lighting beams through it, we can make an entirely different, immersive, amazing, mind-blowing, awesome, 3-dimensional experience.

Our auditorium seats around 700. We use some decent lighting gear along with IMAG. However, our old, water-based hazer produced something more akin to “clouds” rather than haze. The only way to make the haze consistent would be to create so much that it felt more like fog. This made the room feel uncomfortable and even made cameras and projectors look bad.

That changed with our introduction of the Pea Soup Phantom hazer.

Over the past few years we had talked to several churches of similar and larger sizes about oil versus water-based hazers. Each one of them said two things. 1. There are several myths with oil-based haze and residue… none of them gave any credit to the myths. 2. The oil-based haze is beautiful.

On our first weekend with Pea Soup our Sr. Lead Pastor came to the booth with a smile saying: “this hazer is a game-changer”. Here are some thoughts from James (our worship pastor and production leader) and Drew (one of our lighting designers)…

What is the importance of lighting/haze at The Ridge? 

I feel it is a huge part of the bigger picture when trying to help someone feel a moment. Lighting enhances the production and without haze, most of the lighting cues/changes would be missed or less impactful. 

Describe the problems with the previous, water-based hazer?

The particulates were too large and unpredictable. It varied greatly depending on temperature and humidity indoor and outdoor.  There was almost always a swirling sense in the room as the particles blew around.

How does the Pea Soup haze differ from the haze you previously experienced in the room?

It seems to be much more “controllable”, but we are still trying to work through the seasons. The particulates are much smaller and provide a much smoother look as compared to our previous hazer. We can use far less haze and still get a very uniform look. With the water-based system we had a to run it hard to get consistency and uniformity. This meant very heavy (many times uncomfortable amounts) of haze. With the Pea Soup it doesn’t feel like the room has nearly as much haze – but we get better looks. We instantly improved our lighting looks by 1000x!

Tell me about the cost, was the Pea Soup hazer more expensive?  What about fluid, what are the costs and usage?  I understand that CO2 is used.  How much does it take/cost?

Overall, the cost to use it will be less and in time, we might come close to breaking even. The Pea Soup hazer cost us about $3300, the CO2 tanks were in the $200 range and filling them is relatively inexpensive. We will use less fluid compared to our previous unit and the fluid for it was pretty expensive. 

While introducing this new hazer, where there any mistakes along the way?

We did not anticipate having an issue with a CO2 supplier. In the process, we got a quote and then once we had the unit we went to get the tanks and have them filled. The asked what we would be using them for and after telling them, they referred us to a policy that keeps them from providing CO2 for hazers. As it turns out, this is a company policy rather than a state or federal mandate.

For a church that switches from water-based haze to a Pea Soup hazer, what would your advice be to a lighting designer?

Start slow. This stuff lingers much longer than water-based haze. During testing we filled the auditorium and much of our atrium – it seemed like it was never going to dissipate. We’ve found that we need far less from the Pea Soup throughout our services.  Our water-based hazer would run all morning. The Pea Soup is only on for a few, brief sessions and the room stays nicely hazed.

Mark Malburg

Mark is a volunteer at The Ridge – ( He leads a team of around 30 volunteer camera ops and directors making awesome-as-possible 5-camera Imag while trying to do it as affordably-as-possible.