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Fight scenes, practicals, and safety

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by icewolf08, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Can anyone think of a safe way to do this? The following was sent out in yesterday's rehearsal report:

    I know that there are shatter resistant lamps, but after a conversation with the SM I am still a little wary about this. A few concerns: 1) It sounds like the lamp has to be on when it gets knocked off the table. 2) It sounds like one of the actors may be barefoot. 3) It sounds like the fight scene may take them to rolling on the floor when the lamp has gone down.

    So not only do I foresee a glass hazard, but also a electrical and fire hazard. If the cue doesn't get called in time to take out the lamp there is the possibility of setting costumes or scenery smoldering.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    LED lamp? Won't shatter at least...
     
  3. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Tuff Coat Rough Service lamps should not shatter.
     
  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I think this is another one for the "Gee they did it on TV that way...." file.
    My first gut reaction as a TD is, No, not just no, but hell no. There are way way way too many variables. Yes you could dip the lamp, maybe in an acrylic medium, that's the only thing that will keep it from shattering, but if the lamp is on for any amount of time it's going to smoke and discolor. Fire hazard #1.

    If they knock it off the table and the filament breaks, great, if the envelope breaks and you have exposed filaments, you have raw 120 exposed with no insulation. Death hazard #1.

    Now the argument is going to come up; " Hey if the lamp breaks the Circuit breaker will blow, so no exposed 120." Wrong! the envelope can break and the filament burn out without the circuit breaker blowing, as a mater of fact that is most likely what will happen. Death Hazard #2
    Next argument that will come up; " Well, we can write a cue to kill the dimmer as soon as the lamp breaks." Um, Find me an Equity Stage Manager willing to take that kind of risk. Still Death Hazard #2.

    If the envelope breaks, even if it is held together with a media that hasn't degraded due to it's exposure to heat, then there are still extremely sharp edges to the glass pieces, and dipping doesn't necessarily mean 100% of the pieces will be contained. Health hazard #1.

    If they insist on this particular element, then I would take a cue from Bill Sapsis, dip some lamps, break them on the carpet then lay some exposed wire on the carpet and energize it, ask the Director to go walking around in his/ her bare feet. If they won't do it, they certainly can't expect an actor to.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Much depends on the actual fixture. It's a desklamp, right? Does it have a fabric-covered wire shade? I've dropped, accidentally, a silicone-coated shatter-resistant lamp from waist high onto a pine T&G floor and it just bounced. Used to buy them in one theatre just for the ghostlight.

    Something like this: 100A19/STC: Dyna-Brite Lighting, Inc..

    To mitigate the electrical hazard of a broken bulb, it might be worth investing in one of these: 36895-DIM > Power Centers > Portable Power > GFCI Ground Fault Devices > All Leviton Products from Leviton Electrical and Electronic Products. I'm not positive that that is the exact appropriate device, but Leviton does make GFCIs specifically for use with dimmers.
     
  6. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I just realized you ask for a way to do it, not the reasons you shouldn't.
    The ONLY way I would do it would be if I could enclose the light bulb inside an industrial saftey enclosure, you know, one of the steel cage and glass jar kind. This is the ONLY way you can ensure that the actors will not be exposed to Current or broken glass.
     
  7. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    Depending on the exact type of desk lamp, perhaps you could illuminate it from an instrument mounted in the desk (or overhead). Then you don't care when the light goes flying....

    -Fred
     
  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Van, the first thing that came to my mind when I got the report last night was pretty much the same list that you posted. I had to restrain myself from writing back to everyone on the distribution list that I thought someone had to be high to come up with this idea. I have been trying to put my thoughts into composed words that won't make people think I am just hot headed and don't want to do this. In my opinion it just has bad news written all over it. I just wanted some opinions on possible safe solutions for when they insist on doing it.
     
  9. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Oh, I am pretty sure that the stage management team would be happy to see this effect killed before they get too much further into rehearsals, but as it is their job to try and keep the director's vision, they need someone like me on their side to to get things going.

    The other thing that I though was interesting is that apparently there had already been discussion of this effect in the props and scenery departments before I even heard about it, and it sounds like they are willing to go ahead with it. As those who are wanting to go ahead with this effect outrank me (TD, PM, Director, et. al), all I can do is voice my opposition, and hope that people listen.
     
  10. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    So since you haven't mentioned what the shape of the lamp is this may not work but heres and idea that you might be able to use if you have a large lamp. You could maybe rig up some sort of gravity switch on the inside of the lamp where by there are two contacts, one of them fixed and the other movable, so that when the lamp is sitting on the table the gravity connects the contacts and then when it falls off the table the lamp lands on the side and gravity separates the contacts killing the power to the lamp. This way you don't have to worry about having the lamp be on when it hits the ground, and all you have to worry about is shattering. But yeah its just an idea, best of luck.
    -Chris
     
  11. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    How about one of these:
    LED MR16 GX5.3 base. White, warm white; 10 degree to 60 degree. E27 medium base for cabins, boats. 20 watt to 60 watt light output.
    (I note that it says glass or plastic, you'd have to specify plastic)
    Then, just a battery (or 12v supply) in the desk.

    If you want the light to go off when they knock it off the desk, supply power through two metal pads on the desk, with matching contacts in the base of the light.

    -Fred
     
  12. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I'm surprised nobody has suggested a 12V car tail light. They are shatter resistant and there is minimal shock hazard. They can be powered and dimmed with a small transformer.
     
  13. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Can the lamp be a reading type lamp? Something with a long neck and the bulb in a housing that is open just on the bottom where the light shines out. Place clear plastic over the opening (though I'm having trouble with how to secure and remove the clear plastic).

    Joe
     
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Just thought of this while I was on my way back from picking up color and templates. It is a thought, and probably pretty easy to rig. I have no seen the lamp yet though.

    Low voltage is a thought, and relatively easy to do. I have wireless dimmers and batteries if they want to go this route. You can even get 12v medium screw base lamps, but they aren't quite as cheap as regular lamps if they decide to smash them.
     
  15. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    Has anyone considered something battery operated? You could take a normal desk lamp and replace the bulb with a battery operated LED. Hide the batteries in the base of the lamp and use the existing wires from the base to the former socket. Just make sure you cut the plug off or cover it with tape or something so nobody plugs it into a normal socket.

    Wouldn't be very bright, but it wouldn't be dangerous.

    EDIT: Missed the last couple of posts-- you guys beat me to it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2009
  16. KRJWORKS

    KRJWORKS Member

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    Assuming the director REALLY wants this gag, I agree that the ONLY way remotely viable is a low-voltage, shatter-proof lamp, properly fused (before and after the transformer). Numerous ways to make it go out at the appropriate time, but I would apply the KISS principle (as I always do anyway) and make it as simple as possible. There are too many variables in a fight scene to depend on an elaborate setup, and the lamp could end up ANYWHERE (stage, wings, pit, etc.). This all assumes that the scene is dark enough to even make the practical worthwhile. If not, just simulate it from an instrument (safely hung way out of the way) and call it "good enough"!
     
  17. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Here's a thought. If the lamp has a large enough shade you could build a Plexiglas box that fits around the bulb and attaches to the frame of the lamp. This way you put the bulb inside a sealed container that can't break.

    I'm also a fan of the LED lamp solution. Seems like it would be very difficult to break and no risk of wild filaments.
     
  18. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    We did come up with this idea as well, and it may be what we do. In addition I did pick up some safety coated rough service lamps. According to a further conversation I had with the director, the lamp should go out before it gets knocked from the table or some such thing. in any event, I will keep you all posted on how this all get worked, out, and feel free to keep the ideas coming.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Have someone take a cue at the dimmer rack to kill that breaker.
     
  20. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    I think the issue there is if the someone misses the cue and the actors go anyway.
     

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