These Ads will no longer appear once you have logged into ControlBooth.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Flying in Peter Pan

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by rochem, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,228
    Likes Received:
    187
    Location:
    New York, NY
    My high school will be putting on a production of Peter Pan in the spring. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited. Just to head off all the questions that will come, yes we are having professionals come in. ZFX has already been contracted to come in and take care of all the flying, and we'll be working closely with them the entire time.

    Having said that - I'm really curious how they're doing to do it. I've never really worked with a flying rig before, so I'm not sure what to expect. How do these companies usually rig up their systems? Would they somehow connect to the house's fly system and set something up that way? Do they bring everything in and hang all their equipment from the grid? According to my director, our Peter will be able to fly out over the audience. I'm guessing they connect to a FOH hang point, similar to how large national tours hang their FOH cluster? And is this done with chain hoists, counterweight, or something else?

    Let me repeat that I will NOT be trying this myself. Rather, I want to have a rough idea of how this works so that I can know what to expect when they come in next spring.
  2. coldnorth57

    coldnorth57 Member

    Messages:
    262
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Prince George BC Canada
    ask them they are the people you are hiring and they are the ones that have the amswers
  3. zuixro

    zuixro Member

    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Spartanburg, SC
    I've been wondering about this myself, but I suspect that this may be breaking the CB's TOS...
  4. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Maryland
    In general, the systems I've seen are independant of the existing rigging systems... think about it: if you were ZFX, and were responsible for someone 30' in the air, would you trust someone else's equipment?

    As to what ZFX will do in your case, that's a question for them.

    Discussion of how their equipment works is definatly outside CB's TOS.

    Do treat this as an opertunity to learn; but don't *EVER* (unless you go work for them) consider doing it yourself.

    -Fred
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    8,400
    Likes Received:
    1,222
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    We can actually touch on this a bit.

    Basically what they will do is bring in a truss package that contains the actual flying rig. Built into that truss is everything that is need to safely lift a person and make that person track across the stage. Depending on how complex the flying is to be, the more complex the truss system will get. They will hang the truss with chain motors. The chain motors will then attach to your steel above the stage.

    The system will run independent of your fly system. Nothing in a standard fly system is designed to lift people. The redudency and the control simply is not there. All ZFX/FOY/Hall needs is good steel to rig to and they will do the rest.

    It is rather amazing to watch how fast these systems can be put in. These guys who do this do take extreme measures to inspect everything before it goes into the air. Any piece of gear that looks or feels wrong is replaced. If a lift line even grinds on something it is replaced. It is this attention to detail that makes these guys have the safety records they do. It is the reason why you should never try to fly someone on your own.
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

    Messages:
    10,684
    Likes Received:
    1,419
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    ... and yes they will find a good strong structural point out over the house and connect their rig to that similar to how a touring shows hangs a cluster (or phantom a chandelier). A local university did a production and at one point had people fly from the back of the balcony all the way to the deck. Cool!
  7. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Member

    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Lititz, PA
    We had a small Foy rig for the last show we did this summer, the Foy installer just attached the track to a batten and flew the batten out and chained the arbor off, and then attached guy wires from the batten to our mid rail so that the batten didn't sway when the girl was flying.
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    5,006
    Likes Received:
    497
    Location:
    Portland, Or.
    Rochem, I envy you the oppurtunity to watch these guys in action! what a gret experience!

    Thanks to others for refraining from responding initially because of TOS concerns.
  9. len

    len Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,568
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    I can vouch for that. Did some show with a flyer at the Paramount in Aurora and they had a truss rig fit for a 40' stage, that basically accordion folded into a smaller truss. I don't remember too much specific, but that whole system and the flying motors, etc. were done in about 10 minutes, not including testing, safety inspection, etc. I'd give more details but I just don't remember. I can't even remember the show.
  10. FatherMurphy

    FatherMurphy Active Member

    Messages:
    449
    Likes Received:
    83
    Location:
    Midwest US
    I've done a few versions of Peter Pan over the years, and have had to explain how it's done to a number of civilians. Hopefully, the following will answer rochem's question without violating TOS - I don't think I'm including any 'how to' info in here. As mentioned above, 'going down to the hardware store and getting a bunch of stuff' is NOT the way to fly an actor - you either can afford to hire a pro, or you can't afford to do the show.

    Most manual flying rigs are one of two types, pendulum points or track-on-track systems. Motorized systems tend to be single winches or multiple winches coordinated by computers. Manual systems are more frequent for educational/community versions of Pan, due to lower cost and simplicity.

    Most Pans are done with three pendulum points in a row midstage, and a track-on-track downstage. This gives single flyers some options (Peter's entrance and search of the nursery, Wendy's landing in Neverland aka 'bowling for lost boys', battling Hook), and it is enough points for everybody for the trip from London (Darling kids on pendulums, Peter on track).

    Differences in buildings, overall set design, and desired choreography will dictate if the flying equipment is hung directly from the building structure, from existing linesets, or from touring truss.

    Manual operators need to be large, alert, trustworthy sorts. They need to be big enough to lift and hold the actor, alert enough to react to unplanned things like sudden spins and swings and to be ready for the next fly cue, and trustworthy enough that the actor knows they'll always be ready to support them, and not let them swing into a wall as some sort of sick joke (I've seen it happen - immediate replacement of that op).

    Hope this answers some questions - have fun with the show!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2009
  11. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    3,129
    Likes Received:
    441
    Location:
    DFW, Tx.
    Been there, done that... Twice! My first time was during 'Pan and I was the lighting designer but I still got an up close look on how it was done. Exactly as described with the pendulums and track-on-track setup.

    The second time was during 'Oz and I was the Lighting Designer but since I had a board Op I got to be one of the lucky 'fly guys'. I can vouch for the fact that it takes strength, stamina, and alertness. Oh and landing a flying monkey on a platform clear across the stage which is enveloped in fog is a VERY tricky thing to do!!!

    Tip: When discussing flying techniques with the Foy guy, never use the term "drop". It's LAND. ;)
  12. Raktor

    Raktor Member

    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Doesn't that all depend on whether you like the actor or not? :p
  13. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    209
    Location:
    Marine City, MI
    We have Hall Associates in our space this week for a production of Wizard of Oz. We have two systems in place. One is for a tornado effect they invented. It is, essentially, a fancy traveler track system with a motor that spins a fabric tornado. The power of the small DC motor actually runs on galvanized wire on the track. A very cool concept that is very safe and works well.

    The second system consists of the same type of track with a more complex system that allows performers to both travel across the space, and up and down. This track system, in our instance, flys individuals, the bubble for the good witch, and the basket for the balloon. Two operators are needed for this system. One for the operating line to control the left to right movement, and another to control the up and down flight.

    Both track systems are rigged directly to our battens. The arbors are counterweighted to the weight of the rig without performers, and then safetied off. They added some guy wires today to help stabilize some of the effects to get some more specific control.

    They have been great to work with. It has been great to be a part of the process, even though such effects have been incorporated in shows I have managed before.

    ~Dave
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    3,782
    Likes Received:
    473
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Sarcasm like that won't get you far with the guys from Foy, ZFX or Hall. They are all business, and they don't want to hear any jokes when people's health and safety are at risk.
  15. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,228
    Likes Received:
    187
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Thanks for all the responses! I realized this would be a difficult question to answer without violating the TOS, but thanks for keeping it within bounds and helping me out. Van, yes, I'm very excited to get a chance to watch these guys, I'm gonna try to take the opportunity to learn everything I can about this stuff as I may not see it in another show for a long time.

    Another question: do the ZFX/Foy/Hall guys usually stay on-site for the show, or do they hang the rig, train someone, and get out of there until load-out? I'm guessing it varies by show. Since it's a high school show and we have, shall we say, less than professional techs backstage, is it possible they would stay on and run the system themselves, or is it always done by a local guy? In your shows, does a local guy always run it, or can the contract be negotiated so that the ZFX guys actually run it themselves for added safety?
  16. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    209
    Location:
    Marine City, MI
    You are correct, it does vary by the show/ group. I have worked on productions where they load in, train, and leave. Others the stay on for the entire run.

    ~Dave
  17. FatherMurphy

    FatherMurphy Active Member

    Messages:
    449
    Likes Received:
    83
    Location:
    Midwest US
    The shows I've worked, they tend to send one guy with the equipment who uses local help to install it, and stays for about a week to train a local crew and help with flight choreography and rehearsal. He then leaves, and the local crew runs the show and takes down the equipment and ships it back.

    I'm sure they'd be perfectly willing to send a crew to stay the run, but each person sent would need to earn the equivalent of their normal 40 hour work week, plus meal and lodging per diem and travel costs. The total would be rather high to do it that way. The decision is made show by show by the producers of the show as to how comfortable they feel with the local pool of operators vs the cost of hiring outsiders. I've also heard of volunteer groups hiring the local professional stagehands to run the shows, letting the fly company's guys return home for the run. I haven't heard of a fly company pulling the plug on a show because the local ops were too incompetent, but I wouldn't be surprised if they keep a clause in the contract allowing them to do so.

    Flying, done correctly with the proper equipment and training, isn't any more dangerous than a lot of other stuff in theater (orchestra pits, tall platforms without railings, heavy flown items, etc.). It should be approached with caution, respect, vigilance, and a unceasing concern for safety, but not outright fear. Many, many educational and community theater groups successfully run their own flying each year, and have great fun at it.
  18. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    8,400
    Likes Received:
    1,222
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Ask whoever did the contract at your school if they will stay or not.

    One of my acquaintances from college now works for ZFX. She knows nothing about the technical side of flying a person but she is sent out with every package to train the performers on how to fly. From what she has told me, she is sent out with a rigger. The rigger goes in and gets the gear up and she works with the director and actors to get the choreography right. So, don't be surprised if two people show up but one has no clue how to hang a point.

Share This Page