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Cinderella-magic window opening FX

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by JohnA, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. JohnA

    JohnA Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Lighting Designer/Technical Consultant
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    Philadelphia, PA
    Greetings to all,

    I am the volunteer lighting director & special effects technical advisor for a church sponsored community theater group in eastern PA. Specifically, I have a scene (in the play Cinderella) where a set of hinged windows need to open "magically" three times. The actress can close the windows each time, but they need to reopen on their own.

    I have a plan on paper, but am open to any suggestions/improvements:

    I had thought about using (2) side by side windows, hinged on their sides, that open "outward"--rather than a vertically hung window. I would attach horizontally mounted springs to the windows (out of sightlines) that would provide the necessary force to pull the windows open on demand. I was considering the use of solenoids that could act as mechanised door release latches; attaching (1) solenoid to a small spring clip placed along the bottom edge of each window frame. The solenoid plunger would need to be in a "normally extended" position when no power was applied. This would keep the spring clips under no tension, thereby holding windows in a "normally closed" position. When the windows needed to "fly open", I would energize the solenoid--thereby moving the spring clips downward. The windows would now be subjected to the force of the horizontal springs, pulling the windows to open.

    But I have some questions about this: Can the solenoid remain powered on for ~20 seconds--keeeping the spring clips out the windows path-thereby allowing the actress to "close" the window? Next question: when solenoid is de-energized, will the plunger automatically return to the extended position--thereby releasing tension on the spring clips--resulting in the windws being held closed?

    Thanks again for your input--John A
     
  2. n1ist

    n1ist Well-Known Member

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    Some solenoids come with springs that return them to their normal position when de-energized; some depend on an external spring or mechanism.

    What about an electric door strike?
     
  3. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Or could you use an electro-magnet instead of the solenoid? Then it only needs to to be de-energized for a second for the window to release, then re-energize. The actor can then close the window however and whenever they want.
     
  4. JohnA

    JohnA Active Member

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    Hey guys, thanks for those new ideas--John
     
  5. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Or you could do it the very simple way with tieline and pulleys. Heck, you pprobably don't even need pulleys as eyes would probably be fine. Tie on to the inside corner of each window, and have a stage hand pull from offstage.
     
  6. JohnA

    JohnA Active Member

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    One important detail I neglected to mention: This part of the set is going to be in a "stand alone area" located in the (audience) at foh-left. It would be impossible to have a stage hand there without being seen.

    The EM idea is looking like a better solution than the solenoid.--John
     
  7. TechD_Joel

    TechD_Joel Member

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    Since I cant figure out how to start a new thread...

    I am working on Cinderella now, does anyone have any advice on the glowing broom or the blooming flower effect? I cam up with a nice solution for the fireplace if you want to know...

    Thanks!
     
  8. cbenjes

    cbenjes Member

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    What's your fireplace solution?
     
  9. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    An easy way to do blooming flowers is with silk, a pair of syringes and some IV tubing. Cut off the plunger of one syringe and affix the silk. Connect the syringes together with the tubing. Use the other syringe to provide the air to push the silk plug. Low-tech, safe and reliable.
     

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