View Full Version : Fake Fire Help

11-14-2008, 03:52 PM
I will be adding a Burning At The Stake scene and have been looking for something that will make it look like the logs are on fire. I had a fireplace once that used a light with a drum that rotated around it, the drum had a flame pattern on it and made the logs look like they were burning. Does anyone have any ideas on where I can find this or something that will do the same thing. Thanks.

11-14-2008, 04:39 PM
That's a cool idea for a scene. I have always wanted to do the same scene. How I was going to do it, if I ever had time was to look into having a human figure made out of steal or kiln fired clay or other material that could stand extreme heat, maybe concrete casting? Build a real fire under it and let it burn all night. The figure would turn black from the ash and look insane with real flames lapping at it waist high.

It would probably be too expensive to have the figure made but you never know. If I had time I could make it in sections of clay and have them all fired in a kiln and then put them together. Maybe in a few years I'll have time to try it for my haunt.

Maybe this would work for you.


Good luck!


11-14-2008, 04:50 PM
Thanks, I don't think this will work, I may change it and do it like the scene in Silent Hill, with the ladder and a fire pit. I'm not even sure they make those drum things any more.

Jim Warfield
11-15-2008, 05:39 PM
when lightning hit the local clothing store and started it on fire , one of the mannequins got toasted and looked so real! Like a burnt human being.
I had no use for it because it stunk!
Two of my customers were killing time in downtown Mt. Carroll, saw the burnt body in the big dumpster, put it in their trunk, took it home.
If a Policeman had stopped them and made them open the trunk he would have thought he had just found a real human body burn victim.
But it stunk!
A photo from WW2 showed some flame thrower victims and that plastic half body looked just like them.
Blackened surface, cracks through the "skin", distorted somewhat, of course.

11-15-2008, 06:38 PM
Going to try to give simplified answers to the question.

Answer 1: Get a translucent white plastic barrel and cut into quarters to use one of the quarters as the front of the fire. Glue fire blackened sticks to the quarter barrel, leaving openings for the plastic to peek through. Light the barrel from inside with a red light. Mount a can onto a ! RPM motor with narrow leaf shapes cut out of the can. Set the can around an orange or yellow light. As can rotates, it will create heat ripple effects on the barrel.

Answer 2: Take cardboard tubes and cut openings into the tubes. Line the inside of the tubes and around the openings with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Dress tubes to look like burnt logs. Arrange logs so that audience cannot look directly into openings. Install three to four strands of miniature orange Halloween lights into the tubes, each strand hooked into a different flicker circuit.

Answer 3: Buy some small silk flame units and remove from the housings. Mount the units deep enough into the logs and embers so that the fan and lights cannot be seen directly.

11-15-2008, 06:46 PM
In the "old days" they'd take a big pickle jar (one gallon) and fill it with scraps of yellow, orange and red gels. Maybe even throw a small piece of blue. This would be rotated in front of a light. Gels, in case you're not theater oriented, are sheets of colored cellophane in different colors to color or"gel" theatrical lights. Buy them from any theatrical supply or Roscoe.

These are crumpled slightly and added to a jar til it's about half full. You could attach the lid to a motor, with a light source behind it. Project it up into the logs or onto a wall.

We built a 3 ft. high pile of logs for the witch burning with a large industrial fan underneath, on LOW. Small strips of white silk or similar material, were attached to the logs and blown by the fan, illuminated by yellow lights. A fog machine finished the effect off.

Feeding the fog near the fan blew the fog up and around the witch. All of these effects combined looked really good. The jar of colored gels was projected behind the pyre.

Have an actor in burnt make-up or good mask come out of the burning pile of logs toward the audience if possible. Good scare while they are distracted looking at the fire effects.


11-16-2008, 07:56 AM
Thanks. everyone. I'm thinking that pulling parts of all your ideas may just make for a kick ass scene.

Jim Warfield
11-16-2008, 08:04 AM
I had a relay from an antique car dealer's sign that featured two patterns of activation one was -on-off-on-off while the second pattern was off-off-on,off-off-on.
I situated two lamps about 15 feet apart in the upstairs of my house, one bulb was yellow the other one was red, the upstairs windows were still open and normal, looking into the room.
By the time I got it hooked up it was maybe 10pm. I walked up the street a block and rousted the insurance man who was working late who also had the insurance on the house .
He stepped out into the night air and I asked him how much insurance I had on my place?
He looked down the street, his eyes widened as he saw this light show, then he said, "You mean that house that's on fire?"
It looked good.
I learned much later that when I left town on a small vacation, my two trusted helpers set up these lights with a fog machine blowing out an open window!
No wonder they weren't busy while I was away!
"Get your ticket quickly to enter the burning house!"

Allen H
11-16-2008, 08:45 PM
The effect you are talking about I believe are the old fiberglass logs that have the translucent paint and the flickering light shows through. You could do the same effect cheap and easy by making a fiberglass log pile painting solidly (opaque) where the logs are not to badly burned and lightly with oranges and yellows and reds where the light shines through. Inside the hollow log pile a few bulbs hooked up to a flicker controller (get one from EFXtech they are great) works the lights. I would take it a step further and add a few silk flame illusions coming out of the top and a few small one coming out of the pile (computer fans maybe?) a fog machine would not be bad either.
It would take some time (but not much money) to put together but its also the kind of project actors can help with in the off season, working on stuff like that is a great team builder.
good luck with it,

11-17-2008, 06:42 PM
The old flame drum simply used the heat off the bulb to turn the drum on a bearing point. The top of the drum was slotted and louvered so the airflow rising would force it to rotate.

As suggested before, for a large version, a plastic barrel could work.
Just cut with a jig saw to vut check marks into the top of the barrel emanating from the center point. That would allow you to bend down the tabs created by the cuts if heated with a heat gun, making your fan like louvers.

I bet using a well thought out center balance point and a 300 watt shop light would give you the heat anf flow needed to get it to circulate.

Or make a silk flame (http://www.minionsweb.com/urns.htm)

Or buy something like this:http://www.djdepot.com/martin-mania-dc2-p-766.html

damon carson
11-19-2008, 11:14 AM
I didnt have time to read all these ideas, but I would just use a flamepot with logs stacked like in a t-pee where the flames can flap out of and maybe run a fog machine with pvc painted black for your smoke effect. You can also buy those old fire places with the logs that rotate at any flea market ect.

11-19-2008, 12:05 PM
What is a flame pot.?

11-19-2008, 03:10 PM
Hey there SitI...flame pots are the small bowls that hang from chains or can sit on a table top. Generally they have a white silky fabric "flames" and are lit from the sides/underneath with yellow, orange and red lights, there is a fan underneath that blows the fabric and makes it look like fire in a pot. Hence, "flame pot." Most of the Halloween stores, heck, even Walmart, carry them now.

Jim Warfield
11-19-2008, 07:15 PM
Years ago when a fog machine cost $150 to $300 I remember seeing a small almost hand-held one for $1,000!?
So following such a logic pattern would a small flame pot that could fit down then operate safely out of one's pants be more expensive, if there was such a critter? (To chase those other critters down my pants!)
I think small things scare alot of people because they aren't expecting something small along with the fact that something small might also be real, like a real cockroach or rat or underware blaze.(Gas leak)
Maybe a vent pipe running up the back with ocassional billowing gaseous flames burning off the excess fumes , keeping the explosiveness factor low might work?

damon carson
11-20-2008, 03:59 PM
I remember seeing those small fog machines at Transworld many years ago. The company said that David Copperfield had purchased many for his magic act. I wonder if he plans on appearing in St. Louis this year?! Maybe he will for his free copy of Hauntworld magazine?!

11-20-2008, 04:27 PM
Oh, okay I have one of those, had two but one burned out this year.

Hey there SitI...flame pots are the small bowls that hang from chains or can sit on a table top. Generally they have a white silky fabric "flames" and are lit from the sides/underneath with yellow, orange and red lights, there is a fan underneath that blows the fabric and makes it look like fire in a pot. Hence, "flame pot." Most of the Halloween stores, heck, even Walmart, carry them now.