Hollywood Special Effects with Nex Flow® Compressed Air Accessories
Not only have Nex Flow® products been used for Hollywood special effects for US made movies but also for movies made by other jurisdictions and for special effects in museums and in theme parks.
The most popular products used are the air knives and the air amplifiers for creating special effects where wind or heavy air flow needs to be simulated. The advantage of the Nex Flow air knife design is its high efficiency in being able to produce more flow and force at a lower pressure than competitive units (performs the same at 60 PSIG compared to competitors operating at 80 PSIG). The Nex Flow Fixed Air Amplifiers as well as more efficient than competitive designs by about 10% and are much more rugged for easier handling and use.
One unique application in a Stephen King movie was the use of a standard air knife which operates by having the compressed air exit the air knife, and bending 90 degrees over a series of angles. When aiming a flame source against the flow, the air bends the flame also 90 degrees. With some computer manipulation this simulated a barrier against a flame (bending it 90 degrees).
One of my favorite application is from the original X-files series filmed in Canada. The fixed air amplifiers were used to simulate heavy air flow as one of the characters (Mulder) in the X-files was taken by aliens from an airplane. That was simulated by using several AM125 units (now the part number has been changed to FX125).
Standard air knives (Model 10024 – 24” long units) have been used in the Keanu Reeves remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. If you have seen the movie there are several scenes where the grass is rustling from the wind. This effect was created using the air knives. Because of its even air flow it made a realistic simulation of wind blowing over a large area that was filmed.
Product has been used even off camera. In one of the James Bond movies (the most recent James Bond with Daniel Craig) there is a scene where there is a sand storm and the cameras that were doing the filming had protected the camera lenses with air knives that acted as a barrier to prevent the sand from hitting the lenses.
We do not always know what the specific application is for the product. Several 2” Fixed Air Amplifiers were purchased by a special effect company in Brazil but we were not told of the scene. In 2018 some products were purchased for apparently a major superhero movie but we were advised that we could not disclose the details. Needless to say, I will be viewing all the superhero movies for clues on where the products might be applied! While it might not be as exciting as appearing in a movie, having your product in a movie is kinda cool!
It’s not only movies that use Nex Flow products. A large number of 4” Air Amplifiers were purchased a few years back by Universal Studios when revamping their special effect “wind from King Kong’s breathing” at their King Kong ride. They replaced product previously supplied by a competitor with the superior and better priced Nex Flow product.
Museums are also trying to have exhibit that are more interactive. One such museum approached Nex Flow to use a small air amplifier or air jet to simulating the effect of bats flying by people in one of their bats tunnel.
The advantage of using the Nex Flow compressed air amplification technology is the portability, ease of use and also the quiet non-disturbing operation of the products. The compressed air is supplied by a compressor in the film studio or from a rented portable compressor when filming on site.
Ring Vac® air operated conveyors were also used by one special effect company but in this case we were not advised of the special effect. We suspect it may have been used to simulate the firing of a projectile of some sort.
Regardless of the particular special effect, there are many uses for compressed air accessories in the entertainment industry, whether for films, television, theme parks or interactive displays in museums. The application of Nex FlowTM compressed air products for blowing or conveying is limited only to the imagination. The low cost, compact nature, portability, and low noise level of the products make them attractive to use in creating special effects.