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Creating a realistic river

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by WannabeSM, Oct 23, 2008.

  1. WannabeSM

    WannabeSM Member

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    I am stage managing for a fairly large amateur play, and one of the requirements from the director is that we have a large river that the cast can interact with. the river will have to be on the floor in front of the stage, with all the seats pulled back.

    The best idea that i've come up with is to hire a nitrogen low flying fog machine (courtesy of a large budget) and enclose about 4 or 5 metres of the floor with raised river banks, which would be able to support the weight of the actors. Then we could simply fill that enclosed area with smoke, and the air conditioner vents which are underneath the front of the stage would keep the smoke slowly moving. To top off the effect we would have MAC 250 entours running a gobo over the river.

    so would that work, or is there another way that would work better, and for less cost?
     
  2. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    Dry ice tends to make an awfully good low lying fog that's usually pretty cheap. As far as lights go if you have anything with an animation wheel I think that will improve your water effect.
     
  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    My questions are: how far away is your audience going to be from the effect? That can make a difference in just how realistic you need to create. Also, what kind of interaction will the cast have with it? To me fog and water look quite a bit different and react different. If I jump into a pool of low-lying fog, it's not going to splash, but poof. If the cast is scooping water, it won't act the same either.

    If money isn't an object, why not use projection? If you are showing it on a contoured set piece (the river bed) it will be more organic. Of course, you will need to create the content or use some type of scenic mapping so that the image is fit to your set piece. But without knowing the answers to the above questions, it will be difficult to do anything but very general tips.
     
  4. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Experimenting with an animation wheel / gobo rotator w pebbly blue glass gobo might yeild some decent results. It depends on how MUCH interaction the director needs. If cast members need to spend an extended period in the "water", you should probably avoid dry ice due to temperature concerns on bare skin.
     
  5. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I built a real river onstage once using a shallow track painted to look like water with just a few inches running over the surface. I used a cheap pond pump from Home Depot to move the water, and just water proofed a small channel across the stage, complete with small waterfall. Combined with a gobo rotator the effect looked very real, and the actors could splash in it without the audience realizing how shallow it really was. Water is a real pain to work with though, so if your audience isn't close and you can get away with something else, that may be the way to go.
     
  6. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    You could use silk between the river banks with a fan blowing air underneath it to create movement. Then use a a fixture like Elation's Waterfall Pro 2 to project the moving water image.

    [​IMG]

    The combination should work quite well. IMHO
     
  7. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    For "The Diviners" in college we simply used a couple of GAM "scene Machines" with rotating water disks in them, there was a well defined < by light> area that was "the River" this worked so much better than I ever thought it would. during the drowning scenes lights changed a bluish r68 I think. it was a real back and forth thing. I'm all for the creating a "real" river on stage, Pond Liner, pumps, and some hoses are easy to come by and their prices have come down drastically in the last few years. The thing to remember when playing with water however, is that "All the World 'round, a pint is a pound" one gallon weighs 8 pounds and it adds up fast and it pays to remember that when building real ponds of pools on stage. WWW.pondliners.com is a great resource and supplier of pond liner and pond related equipment.
    I have reservations about the use of Nitrogen or for that matter CO2 base fogs in large quantities eg used as pools or rivers. I read, not to long ago of a school in or around Chicago, I believe, that performed Sarah Ruhls Metamorphoses, and in place of a pool of water they used Nitrogen based fog. Effective, yes. Costly, no, but that's only because the teacher knew someone at the worlds leading nitro based fog manufacturer and they agreed to foot the bill. The safety issue comes into play when you realize that Nitrogen or CO2 based fogs are both heavier than air and both displace the air into which they are introduced. This isn't an issue when used on stage as they quickly dissipate, however, when used in a confined space like a "defined River" area, this trait can be toxic if not deadly. < though an internet search will only turn up one such death ever associated with CO2based fog on stage.> There was a great thread a while back here on the booth, rather contentious at times if I remember correctly, about the dangers of CO2 based fogs, I suggest reading it to help you establish guidelines under which your blocking and use of fog will be directed.
     
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I'm fairly certain this is the thread to which [user]Van[/user] is refering: www.controlbooth.com/forums/special-f-x/2859-hazers-vs-dry-ice-health-risk-5.html.

    The company referenced above is Interesting Products. Here is an except from their FAQ page:
    What is Nitrogen?
    Nitrogen is the most plentiful gas in the atmosphere. It is colorless, odorless, non-flammable, and non-toxic. Over 78% of the atmosphere is nitrogen. Gaseous nitrogen is usually referred to as "N2" or simply N2.

    A common misconception is that LN2 IS the fog. In fact, LN2 only aids in the already-present-moisture-in-the-air's ability to condense and create the fog. CO2 works the same way, but due to its low naturally occuring concentration in our atmosphere, is considered more dangerous in concentrated quantities.

    As a matter of fact, I'm off to LDI'08 now, and one of my goals is to encourage Interesting Products to join and participate in our ControlBooth community.
     
  9. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    We did an affective water effect for our reproduction of Trevi Fountain a couple of years back. We used 1 mil, clear plastic sheeting and moving lights with stock gobo's to create the effect.

    There's a picture of it in our website's photo gallery. Unfortunately, I can't give you a direct link to the photo, but it's near the end of the gallery.
     
  10. MaddMaxx

    MaddMaxx Member

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    So, am I the only one here who has ever actually used real water? Just did a "Pirates of the Caribean" type thing with the "sea" as 5" of water x 30' wide x 10 deep across front of stage on a low stage. Used a 2x8 frame around, press board under, covered with $185 worth of roofing rubber. Pump in one end and pump out other end created flow and waves. Also got a box of blue highlighters and put contents into water. Black light and intel lghting was spectacular! No leaks. real water, and I had it rain in the sea. Wind with fans, flapping sails, etc..
     
  11. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I was going to mention doing real water, but it can be a real hassle and really expensive. I have worked on a bunch of shows that use real water, it has always looked great, but you do have to do things like filter the water and treat it like a pool or you have to change every day. If you have the resources, real water is great!
     
  12. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Real water can be great, but as IceWolf mentioned, it can be a real hassle. It can also be a real danger. I'm sure most all of us have floor pockets, do you know if they are on GFCIs? If you end up with a major leak, beyond normal water damage, you run into a huge risk of electrocution. With the weight factor of water, you really need to crunch some serious numbers before this is attempted (containment and pressure on stage as stated previously). Obviously, water will create the best water effect, but use as little as you can get away with.
     

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