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Best Budget Special Effects

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by Matthew Giles, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Matthew Giles

    Matthew Giles New Member

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    I was wondering if people could share their thoughts on the best budget special effects, or special tricks you use to enhance a show. Whether this be confetti, balloons, smoke etc. I am interested in any tips for people's go-to when it comes to a special effect or scenic element to enhance a show without having to hire expensive equipment.

    Thanks!
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Occupation:
    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
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    It seems like the answer to that question is: "It depends on the show."

    What is the show that needs enhancing? What are you trying to convey to the audience? What does the show call for? What can fit in your venue? Etc....
     
  3. spenserh

    spenserh Member

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    Watching this, we just finished a recital on Sunday and the client, who has done a balloon net for the last few years, has indicated that they want to brainstorm something new for next year.

    That said, any show involving children is a good candidate for a balloon net, balloons are cheap enough that we will even give a few to young children in the audience.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  4. Matthew Giles

    Matthew Giles New Member

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    It's basically a dance and singing variety show, so it covers lots of aspects from strong pop dance sections, to more old-fashioned Frank-Sinatra style dance. It also includes slow ballad moments and more upbeat pop songs. So really any scenic elements that would enhance any of these styles or special effects. We have songs such as Ed Sheeran Supermarket Flowers, Imagine by John Lennon, Fly Me To The Moon Frank Sinatra, Make You Feel My Love Adele, Stay Rihanna, a Whitney medley, Vogue Madonna etc.
     
  5. Chase P.

    Chase P. Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Freelance lighting designer, production manager
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Cut paper snow is one of my personal favorites. So much better than the shredded plastic stuff, it drifts and swirls through the air. Kind of off season right now, however. Colored paper might be fun, sort of like a confetti cannon without the compressed gas. Regardless of color, build yourself a sort of wire-mesh bingo ball cage and you can sweep up and "clean" the paper for re-use. Just make sure to do a good hand sort for bigger items, I once saw a 3" lag bolt make it back into the snowbag, then out of the bag during a rehearsal.

    For just random effects, an opera I worked on did an iris effect using a black traveler hung close to a guillotine black, and operated at the same speed. The singer was in front of this, and it would open behind her on a section of stage with side lit snow, and backed by another full stage black. I love that it's an effect that technology would have permitted any time in the last couple hundred years. Would also look really cool irising open and closed on full sets for scene changes.

    Putting a black scrim in front of your cyc creates great effects, especially if you play with lighting the front of the scrim vs. lighting the cyc.

    Speaking of scrims, my ex did a set for a show about mental health. Entire show was behind a black scrim, with a box set that didn't reach the legs, and another black scrim in front of the cyc, but behind the set. As the audience tracked the movement on stage, the scrims would create a shifting moire pattern, and make everyone feel sort of off. Tons of non-specific complaints to the box office, he considered it job well done :)
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  6. Leo Mauler

    Leo Mauler Member

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    It's not exactly a budget item, but if you can find one on sale or "please come pick this up", a good subwoofer is an excellent addition to any theatre. You can play sounds which are outside human hearing, which then cause a feeling of unease, or other emotions, in the entire audience without the audience knowing why they feel this way. This is an excellent item which can be reused in multiple shows.
     
  7. Leo Mauler

    Leo Mauler Member

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    Sounds like the kind of show where a budget-conscious tech director would have a serious talk with the makeup and costume folks, then use most of the budget on their efforts and make the lighting enhance their makeup and costume efforts. Less scene and special effects, more acting from the actors using enhanced makeup and costumes. Maybe the use of a strobe light at some point.
     

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