The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Drop System with little fly space

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by msawyer52, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. msawyer52

    msawyer52 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Detroit
    I ‘m assisting a high school with plans for converting their gymatorium into a real theater space, now that they have a new field house. The plans are going to push the current stage out 25’ with a new proscenium. The proscenium arch will be about 14’ and we will only have about 10’ above that for drops. Does anyone use a roll drop system that we could use instead of a full fly loft. The cost of the fly loft is prohibitive in our budget (big surprise).
     
  2. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,615
    Likes Received:
    172
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    If you're looking at a full roll drop system run by motors ect for all your battons/electrics its probably just as expensive. If you're looking for something just to do drops with someone smarter than I will be along shortly to help.
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    1,808
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Roll drops, or Olios, are really not that hard to do. The biggest issue usually is getting a solid piece of pipe that is long enough. "Tripping" the drops is also an option. Either way, yes it is possible. Motorized roll drops to exist, these roll from the top so you have a clean pocket at the bottom like you would with a regular drop. Both of these options work, but neither are great for a live show enviorment. I would highly suggest that you push to get the electrics put on winches if at all possible. It not, make sure a scissor lift in in the buget.
     
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,401
    Likes Received:
    2,785
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    The Goodspeed Opera House, comes immediately to mind. They've premiered some of the most important musicals, on a tiny, ill-equipped stage.

    [user]msawyer52[/user], you need a rigging company. I'm sure there's one in Detroit or surrounding states. The closest one I'm familiar with is Tiffin Scenic Studios, Tiffin, Ohio.
     
  5. msawyer52

    msawyer52 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Detroit
    The project director doesn't want to punch through the roof for the fly space and the associated rigging. I've use oleo systems in another theater but I think the drop is usually limited to 20 or 25 feet and we're looking for at least 30'. We're considering using tripping as a last resort. We're going to look at this company as a possibility.
    TUBE - Modular Carbon Fiber Roller Drop System - Gerriets International
    I've got Tiffen Studios on my list as someone to talk to as we get further along.
    Thanks
     
  6. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    1,304
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Southern California
    My main stage has a 13 ft. proscenium with 9 ft. of fly space above that. We use a combination of traditional counterweight fly system, travellers, and one 40 ft. wide roll drop built in house about five years before I joined the staff. We often fly the upper half of a background while incorporating the lower half into a piece of rolling scenery. Our cyc is a trip drop. Most of our backgrounds don't even use the fly system, instead they are on fully self contained rolling sets. For your application, I would explore a variety of options before settling on a series of roll drops.

    While roll drops make for nice tight backdrops, they can also be a royal pain to work with. You can only paint over a drop so many times before you have to replace it. I put a new drop onto our roll every 3 to 4 years. It takes nearly a full day and I have never been able to get all the wrinkles out of the drop. Whether this is a flaw in the drop, or me screwing up, I don't know, but changing the drop is a lot of work.

    Setting up full stage traveller tracks up stage of your legs and borders is another option you should look into. While a traveller drop will never give the stretched taught appearance of a roll drop, you'll find that it's much easier to work with. Wrinkling will be an issue, but changing drops will be a breeze.

    Trip drops are yet another option for you. The pluses are pretty similar to the traveller drop. The down sides are that they eat up two fly lines instead of one, take longer to fly in and out, present some legitimate safety concerns if not rigged properly, and have dust collection issues when in their storage position.

    I would recommend that you use all of the available options. This will give you maximum flexibility, allowing you to adapt to most any situation.
     
  7. msawyer52

    msawyer52 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Detroit
    I agree that we may end up using a combination of systems for our theater. I think oleo roller is not in the mix since they usually rent backdrops. I know what a pain it is to get that system straight and wrinkle free. I think full stage tracks would be good along with tripping the rental drops and a scrim.

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

    Messages:
    6,106
    Likes Received:
    387
    Location:
    Illinois
    Wow, 10' of fly space above the 14' arch? Once practically lived in a 14' grid height with like 9'-1" house where not above the 14x14 main stage grid.


    Main question is what’s the platfrom height in modifying these dimensions after the proscenium if needed. Trim height and scale are one thing, some locked down height of the proscenium arch is another thing. First do you in this space need a true fourth wall or would it best serve the purpose of this found space? At times wouldn’t it be better to given even such a concept be able to narrow it in some and or at times raise it up? I wouldn’t other than for if necessary requirement separation of the stage from the audience purposes make a proscenium thats’ locked down and solid to a specific height. At very least make that dimension adjustable such as by two proscenium drops that can adjust but not look hack... Say a large molding blocking the 2' of adjustable trim in having one or two tormenters that can better for a scene frame it in. First the fake procenium, second perhaps a valance - both adjustable for a even short proscenium that can get short or say much higher. Got ballet or dancers on your stage and you will welcome the higher height especially once you add the stage. A stage might not at this point seem needed but given flat floor otherwise will help in observation of the audience needs in otherwise having to have the rear rows of the audience able to touch the ceiling in order to see the stage. Gonna have to draft this out to see even a few inches higher on the stage for ability for the rear rows of the audience to see what’s going on. Could be 6", perhaps should be like 20" in height so you can also get under it in worming thru sound cables or wiring. By the way, my first college had a similar space to what you describe getting.... not good and I don’t think it was ever used as a true procenium.

    If for fire curtain needs to have a specific fire wall persay - dependant upon fire code classification of the space, there are other means on the market given your space requires it in not having an overall protection for such a smaller space I would assume, or even if than certain drench curtain type things are possible. Assuming that’s not the primary requirement for the proscenium by code, I would go for a more black box theater that can be modified as proscenium, thrust and even the extent of in the round or open stage. One assumes it’s going to be much used at least as a thrust stage anyway in breaking the fourth wall and getting the action closer to the audience. Drapes and rigging for such a space than fall on budget and design. Hire someone really good as a consultant go between for the contractors and the school in making the place what it should and can become. Well worth the money. Can’t say the least that such a person would be worth the money but interview well.

    Beyond that, yea, roll drops are feasible but so is a horizontal fly system. (Contact me off line and I’ll put you in touch with someone that has some for sale. No idea if they would be cheap or not, just a source.)

    On the other hand, Enough pickup lines and horizontal space above the stage for travel and you can fly goods in a West Coasting type of way. Used to work a lot rigging at Mariott Lincolnshire Theater in the Chicago area and they had one that worked great though in a slightly different way that given in the round, it was more for prop type scenery raised out of the way. Still in concept, as far as travel goes, nothing says you have to do it vertically for the linesets. Have enough pickup lines and you don’t drape onto the set those drapes picked up. Did this horizontal fly system in my 9'-1" ceiling space, had I more pickup lines and not been working with a drastically raked stage, it would have worked well. In that space given at that point a 18" platform plus 6" of rigging, no it didn’t work that well. Still, I was able to do a drape raised to about 24" high with only a few pickup lines and sand bags. Concept being that your clue block and guide rails fly horizonatlly and your head block is on the hand line itself for your travel.

    Beyond the general scope of horizontal fly and travel distance a question of having your clue block fly horizontally, bags to catch the drape swag, maskings and other means can be done to pickup or mask what wouldn’t be as easy to roll drop or look natural in doing so. Sure roll drop scenery at times but that’s two dimensional and limited.

    Beyond this is horizontal if not horizontal folding scenery that slides off stage and folds up off stage from there, or multiple slide rails.

    Lots of ways to rig the place if at all.


    First the concepts. You probably will need some form of masking back stage or back of the main part of the stage and it would be good for a lighting grid to not get in the way of it. A really good plan would be a really good plan. But a solid proscenium would seriously limit this plan for good use of the space I think.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  9. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

    Messages:
    6,106
    Likes Received:
    387
    Location:
    Illinois
    Sorry, misspoke. Thinking flat deck that’s both stage area and audience and going back to the classic gymatorium. Of them I have seen two types, secondary lunch room presentation hall with a shorter height stage and stairs to it and a true like 3' high stage off of the gym.

    Taking it for granted the latter part in my opinion that’s too high of a stage height for such a stage. Rip it out. Such a stage height is designed so the audience on folding chairs in front of the stage can see their little darlings (for the most part) only and not conducive to real theater. Once you start to make this into a theater you should give up this concept completely. This by way of audience sections on risers and stage lower to the ground.

    Save the decking and perhaps add it to platforms and or better yet resale it for cash to finance the upgrade. Such a no doubt well polished gymatorium stage deck would be worth a lot of money even in a recession. Structurally and the architect and consultant would tell for sure, such a rip out of the back stage deck won’t structurally alter the building at all.

    After this, a set of at times adjustable height platforms you build or buy that are in projecting out 25' from the original proscenium that’s more in the range of 24" would be much better for a platform height. That also gets you another foot.

    Still, I would keep with the black box concept as a first concept for the space still. Don’t make a new proscenium wall that’s permanent or fixed. Some designer or show will come along that would wish for a in the round, flipping the stage around, deeper thrust if not just thrust to what you think now and those concepts would be perfectly valid to have given the blank slate you have now. Perhaps other than making plans for the thrust stage if not even runway stage now, I wouldn’t persay make overt plans for a true black box, more a short thrust stage, but still I also wouldn’t make plaster walls. Place aint’ a 1920's opera house with sloped floors anyway, no reason to attempt to make it that way either.

    Again with the adjustable height and even width procenium even supplemented by a vailiance to help trim the height down further where needed. Get artistic with such a concept.... don’t have to be say something greek say, make it for design a part of what the space is even if black. Sliding tormenters to also help frame in the stage also would be useful.

    So you would now have something like a 40' deep stage, that’s cool and really useful. Light grey verses light blue than become a really good question. Stretched cyc on pipes is good as with other ideas presented on low trim height scenery. Agreed about less the rigging on the roll drop, more the problems of stretching and a long enough self supporting pipe that won’t sag. Perhaps a Sch. 120 2" or 3" pipe would work in guessing but in the past studying such concepts. Perhaps a 8" triangular truss could span such a stage also in turning it into a roll drop. Also with the =- only so much you can paint it until you can replace it. Certainly such a drop will also dictate what types of paint you can use on it in not being as cheap to have. Good cyc upstage and cover it between shows and that would be a primary thing I think. After that some trees perhaps that can move on and off stage perhaps. Plus perhaps a upstage walk way would be a good start, than after that some tracking legs and adjustable height teasers and call it a day for now. Treat the new proscenium the same way perhaps for now if not making it more hard or soft flat members.

    What I might go for is a 48" on center Unistrut grid mounted directly to the ceiling. After that you can hang what you want where you want it by way of cross members and things hung below that.

    If you want a real procenium, perhaps frame out a 24" wall and ceiling in some three dimensional molding and do the hard or soft flats hung behind that so they can totally recess or drop down to almost the 48" level given reveal spacing. Than after that drapery that further can drop or move in to mask and frame the stage.

    Platforms say on 6" progressively higher levels for the audience, need a professional to design such stuff for fire escape purposes of course.

    Ah’ a theater of your own to design about you.

    Another idea I would have is to design a lot of shows given the blueprint for the space. No not for production but more in reading the script and theorizing on how you would design the show but not knowing until you try to convey idea and image to paper what is needed to be designed into the space. The more shows and wider variety of shows the better that you can pre-design into the space. Where the follow spots are needed, given audience how high their platforms. Lots of stuff, where is the scenery stored when off stage - perhaps while constructing you need to expand out a doorway leading to the old backstage a bit more? Stuff like that.

    Again the horizontal rigging also. If say you have an upstage walkway for the actors, perhaps above that you have your horizontal clue block fly space that allows rigging points anywhere on the grid and an off stage pin rail. Again the Marriott Lincolnshire that was rigged by Chicago Scenic Studios, though the concept of doing so almost any rigging company would understand. That above Unistrut above grid would really help also with this ability to fly stuff in getting hard points all over the place.
     
  10. msawyer52

    msawyer52 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Detroit
    First, Thanks for all the advice from everyone.

    Just to give some background, I've been included in this project at a late date already. During the past 15 years we've not used the original stage but built a 32'x16' platform stage along the long gym wall with a stage left wing space ~ 24'x12'. We hung a single drop from the ceiling for the entire show, little or no chance to change it (no rigging). We've used flats in the past to create a semi-proscenium

    The person heading the project is not a theater person and is sort of winging it after heading the field house project. The guy is a lighting contractor and they did the lighting for a local casino theater, so our new lighting should be the nuts. A preliminary rendering was give to us and is posted here. [​IMG]

    This drawing shows about 8' wing space available. The old stage area would be used as our scene shop and storage of scene pieces during shows. They are looking at retractable seating for the back half of the theater on an 8" rise per step. They want to use the space as an extra classroom.

    Yeah Ship your right, 3' high stage, the decking is over concrete and may not be able to be lowered, don't know the structure below. I know for certain that we can't go down for an orchestra pit so the 3' high stage might be needed for the front half of the audience. Yes we need a good cyc and masking for other stage uses. A Unistrut grid mounted directly to the ceiling would probably come in very handy. Just trying to figure the best way to handle the drops that we rent, they produce mostly musicals currently. Most of our scene painting is on soft flats 10'x4'.

    I really like the idea of a flexible proscenium as a black box use but I may be too late in the project. As you can all expect budget is going to control everything.
     
  11. msawyer52

    msawyer52 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Detroit
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,499
    Likes Received:
    2,481
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I know you are half way into this but you REALLY should hire a theater consultant and not just a lighting expert. A theater consultant will help you get the acoustics right, the wiring right, the rigging, comfortable chairs, safe well designed staging... the list goes on and on. Architects design buildings but don't know about designing theaters. Theater consultants bridge the gap educating the architect. Your head person the lighting guy sounds like a good start (and better than some projects have) but what does he know about staging, acoustics, and rigging, draperies, etc...

    Most of all, a theater consultant will make sure the place is designed safely to meet all government safety regulations as well as standard theater safety protocols. It will cost you some money but it will be money well spent. If you don't hire a consultant you are likely to spend the next 30 years hating some things about your space that you and your lighting guy never thought of.

    My college just finished construction of a new theater last year. It was a long battle. There are things that the theater consultant could have done better and I'm changing them as best as I can. We didn't always see eye to eye on the design of the building but without the theater consultant the space would have been a disaster.
     
  13. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

    Messages:
    274
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Iowa
    Despair not!! Things have a way of being done.
    Our small black box theatre is UNDERGROUND (along with the library, bookstore, food service, ballroom, and a bunch of meeting rooms). Top of the "fly gallery" is about 3 feet higher than the proscenium. Here's how it works:
    The 4 electrics are on electric winches. The electrics are just about perfect trim at the top of the travel for the cables.
    5 more battens are on hand crank winches. Useful for flying drops that don't have to move in and out during the show. Like the cyc or some other backdrop.
    Curtains are dead hung. Teasers just hang from pipes chained to structural steel and the main and act curtains run on travelers dead-hung from the structure.
    5 more additional tracks are provided for drops that have to move on and off. The track extends into the SR wing, witch is about 1.25 times the width of the proscenium. for those drops it's sort of like having the fly space sideways
    1 projection screen on an electric roller
    Working with a "horizontal fly gallery" took a bit of getting used to, but it seems natural now. Our theatre tech director just uses flats for his backdrops and rolls them in and out. Hanging curtains by one's self is tough if you need to move one to a space that doesn't happen to fall under a winch, but it can be done off of a ladder fairly easy with a couple people.
    We're in the process of updating this site but I'll post the link to this space if it helps you.
    ACES Backstage - Buena Vista University
    Matt
     
  14. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

    Messages:
    4,017
    Likes Received:
    562
    Occupation:
    Acoustical, audio and audiovisual consultant
    Location:
    Marietta, GA
    Adding a fly tower can be very complex, it is usually not the additional construction that is the only issue but also the fact that the existing structure, and especially the foundations, are probably not designed for the additional loads that structure and the tech systems would impose. That being said, I have worked on several projects, primarily schools, where the building was initially designed specifically to support the future addition of a fly tower.

    As a consultant, I really appreciate and support Gaff's comments. There are some things like exiting, ADA compliance, life safety systems, mechanical systems revisions, etc. that you probably want to consider early on. I have seen too many people invest great effort developing a detailed concept only to have to essentially start over once these necessary issues are considered. Looking at the rendering I have some questions regarding potential code compliance issues like stage access and exiting along with technical issues like the apparent absence of any mix position or equipment rooms. I would get an Architect and all your consultants involved before you get too far along in any planning.

    Also, a little perspective from a consultant's end. While a consultant should try to involve the facility's tech people as early as possible, it is typically to everyone's benefit but amazing how difficult this sometimes is, they often have to resolve that input with conflicting direction provided by the current administration and the people paying for the project. You also sometimes have to balance what may be personal preferences of the current operators with the reality that the building and systems are typically much more permanent than the people and that the next operator may have very different preferences (I encounter the same issue with instructors that think of a classroom being 'theirs' when that may change the very next semester). In fact the most difficult task in a project is often not the technical details but rather balancing all these various factors and developing a solution acceptable to everyone in the first place. Throw in an Architect or Interior Designer trying to create a design statement as sometimes occurs and it can be very challenging to develop a solution that makes everyone happy. Doing so usually requires numerous compromises and the trick from the operator's end is often knowing how to prioritize and where to fight versus compromise.
     
  15. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

    Messages:
    6,106
    Likes Received:
    387
    Location:
    Illinois
    Agreed on the consultant concept. Side note, there is Unistrut traveler carriages on the market. As an idea in keeping it close to the ceiling or for the back of one's head.
     
  16. TheLightmaster

    TheLightmaster Member

    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    11
    Occupation:
    LD/ME/Programmer/Stagehand
    Location:
    Kanata, Ontario, Canada
    Sorry to revive this thread. :oops:
    Use a valance to cheat more flyspace: No flyspace.png
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice