Flat Rigging Question

Nic

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Sep 21, 2019
Location
St. Cloud, Minnesota
I know that rigging is a bit of a touchy subject but, for whatever it's worth, I'm not operating outside of my comfort zone.
In any case, the high school that I work with has elected to stage a musical this year. Due to the current circumstances, we've chosen a musical with a much smaller cast and therefore, I've advised them to frame in the stage using flats to make the space smaller, basically like multiple false prosceniums, rigged so that they can be flown out. In my experience, the legs of the false proscenium have always been single tall flats. However, I have access to a small stock of 8' tall flats. I'd like to simply stack these flats and add a plug at the top to achieve my desired height. The only other time I've seen this done was in high school and I know now that the technique used there was very much incorrect.
Based on my knowledge of flying flats, I know that I could simply place a bottom hanging irons on every individual flat and run a line to the batten. This seems a bit like overkill but I'd rather overdo it. Alternatively (and I'm asking if this is acceptable), could I use only a single pair of bottom hanging irons and join the flats together with something like keystones or mending plates? I'd obviously use keeper plates as appropriate as well.
I could also just have them build bespoke flats but if saving time can be done safely, we may as well.
Thanks in advance,
Nic
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
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Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
I know that rigging is a bit of a touchy subject but, for whatever it's worth, I'm not operating outside of my comfort zone.
In any case, the high school that I work with has elected to stage a musical this year. Due to the current circumstances, we've chosen a musical with a much smaller cast and therefore, I've advised them to frame in the stage using flats to make the space smaller, basically like multiple false prosceniums, rigged so that they can be flown out. In my experience, the legs of the false proscenium have always been single tall flats. However, I have access to a small stock of 8' tall flats. I'd like to simply stack these flats and add a plug at the top to achieve my desired height. The only other time I've seen this done was in high school and I know now that the technique used there was very much incorrect.
Based on my knowledge of flying flats, I know that I could simply place a bottom hanging irons on every individual flat and run a line to the batten. This seems a bit like overkill but I'd rather overdo it. Alternatively (and I'm asking if this is acceptable), could I use only a single pair of bottom hanging irons and join the flats together with something like keystones or mending plates? I'd obviously use keeper plates as appropriate as well.
I could also just have them build bespoke flats but if saving time can be done safely, we may as well.
Thanks in advance,
Nic
Is your venue a: Hemp house? Single purchase counterweighted arbors?? Double purchase counterweighted arbors???
Why do you need to fly the flats????
Have you considered assembling them as periaktoi with the horizontal joints staggered on the three sides?????
You could build a substantial dolly within the base, inset enough to conceal 4" casters behind the skirting flats, and store a substantial amount of stage weights or sandbags on the dolly for stability.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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Robert

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Apr 1, 2004
Location
The South
Are your flats Hollywood or flat frame construction? Makes a difference.

My standard method for flat frame was to join the flats together with keystones across the toggles or rails. Then I would run a pair stiffeners or pig trough built out of 1" x 2" along the stiles or rails and frame up the whole unit with the pig trough and bolt them through the flats. Use a set of bottom irons and a set of top hanging irons.

Hanging the top plug requires more thought and structure to fly. I used more bottom and top irons there depending on the size and structure.

Another area of concern will be how you raise them into the air. You may create an out of balance situation and will need to be prepared for that.

A lot of information is online in the form of PDF docs of stagecraft books.
 

gafftaper

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@Nic While there are lots of us here who love to help, when it comes to rigging its very dangerous to just throw out answers on the internet. How do we know that you aren't a 14 year old with no business doing this? How do we know what your skills are like when it comes to executing the advice we give? How do we know the quality of the equipment that you will use? Similarly, how do you know that you can trust my advice? How do you know I'm not a 14 year old with no business giving advice? If I give you advice and you don't do it correctly and someone gets hurt, who is at fault? Will they sue me for your mistake?

We'll turn on the bat signal for CB's resident riggers... @What Rigger? and @egilson1. If they feel like this is something safe to answer you will get an answer from a legitimate pro. Guys, I leave it to your judgement as to if this should be answered or not. If either of you feels this thread should be closed, edited, or pulled text me and I'll take care of it.
 

Nic

Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Location
St. Cloud, Minnesota
@Nic While there are lots of us here who love to help, when it comes to rigging its very dangerous to just throw out answers on the internet. How do we know that you aren't a 14 year old with no business doing this? How do we know what your skills are like when it comes to executing the advice we give? How do we know the quality of the equipment that you will use? Similarly, how do you know that you can trust my advice? How do you know I'm not a 14 year old with no business giving advice? If I give you advice and you don't do it correctly and someone gets hurt, who is at fault? Will they sue me for your mistake?
That's all fair, and like I said, I realize this is a touchy subject. I've done my best to try to stay within the ToS but if I've overstepped, please do remove the thread and accept my apologies. I'd point out that both of my solutions seem reasonable and, minimally, exhibit some general knowledge of the subject. I'm not so much asking "how do you do this?" as I am "is this in violation of a best practice that I am for some reason unfamiliar with?" Of course, I'd never ask anyone to offer any advice if they're uncomfortable doing so.

Are your flats Hollywood or flat frame construction? Makes a difference.
I can't believe I forgot to mention that they are broadway flats. Serves me right for attempting to ask thoughtful questions at midnight.

A lot of information is online in the form of PDF docs of stagecraft books.
I own a number of set construction and rigging books and I looked through them all quite thoroughly but couldn't find the answer to my question. They are quite clear on flat construction and flat rigging but none of them went into the details on rigging them in this manner. I guess when I have an issue that involves safety and I can't find a clear answer from someone with more experience than me, I start to second guess myself. I guess this is both a good thing and a bad thing.

My standard method for flat frame was to join the flats together with keystones across the toggles or rails. Then I would run a pair stiffeners or pig trough built out of 1" x 2" along the stiles or rails and frame up the whole unit with the pig trough and bolt them through the flats. Use a set of bottom irons and a set of top hanging irons.
I'm glad to hear that I'm not completely off base here.

Another area of concern will be how you raise them into the air. You may create an out of balance situation and will need to be prepared for that.
The good news is flying heavy things isn't something that I'm new to. I've been doing this (albeit part-time) for over a decade now. It's just nice to have a few more senior voices that can yell at me if I need it.

Is there a way to do this with drapes already in place instead of hanging 1000lbs in the air?
There are a couple of reasons we can't. The biggest is that the proposed set is already extremely minimalistic. Drawing in masking curtains will make the space look smaller but still situated in a dark void rather than having a cohesive look. Additionally, someone somewhere decided that we don't need tormentors downstage of the grand drape...because of reasons...

Is your venue a: Hemp house? Single purchase counterweighted arbors?? Double purchase counterweighted arbors???
Why do you need to fly the flats????
Have you considered assembling them as periaktoi with the horizontal joints staggered on the three sides?????
You could build a substantial dolly within the base, inset enough to conceal 4" casters behind the skirting flats, and store a substantial amount of stage weights or sandbags on the dolly for stability.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
All good questions that I should have anticipated. Our venue has a single purchase counterweight system. At least two sets of the flats need to be flown out to allow for movement of set pieces. The periaktoi are an interesting idea. That would mean eliminating or separately flying the horizontal portion of the arch but it would basically take care of the portion of the project I was concerned about. I think I'll pitch that at our next meeting and see what people think

Thank you all for your input. Like I keep saying, I understand why people shy away from this topic, but you have all been kind and thoughtful in your responses which I am extremely grateful for.
 
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RonHebbard

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Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
That's all fair, and like I said, I realize this is a touchy subject. I've done my best to try to stay within the ToS but if I've overstepped, please do remove the thread and accept my apologies. I'd point out that both of my solutions seem reasonable and, minimally, exhibit some general knowledge of the subject. I'm not so much asking "how do you do this?" as I am "is this in violation of a best practice that I am for some reason unfamiliar with?" Of course, I'd never ask anyone to offer any advice if they're uncomfortable doing so.



I can't believe I forgot to mention that they are broadway flats. Serves me right for attempting to ask thoughtful questions at midnight.


I own a number of set construction and rigging books and I looked through them all quite thoroughly but couldn't find the answer to my question. They are quite clear on flat construction and flat rigging but none of them went into the details on rigging them in this manner. I guess when I have an issue that involves safety and I can't find a clear answer from someone with more experience than me, I start to second guess myself. I guess this is both a good thing and a bad thing.

My standard method for flat frame was to join the flats together with keystones across the toggles or rails. Then I would run a pair stiffeners or pig trough built out of 1" x 2" along the stiles or rails and frame up the whole unit with the pig trough and bolt them through the flats. Use a set of bottom irons and a set of top hanging irons.
I'm glad to hear that I'm not completely off base here.

Another area of concern will be how you raise them into the air. You may create an out of balance situation and will need to be prepared for that.
The good news is flying heavy things isn't something that I'm new to. I've been doing this (albeit part-time) for over a decade now. It's just nice to have a few more senior voices that can yell at me if I need it.


There are a couple of reasons we can't. The biggest is that the proposed set is already extremely minimalistic. Drawing in masking curtains will make the space look smaller but still situated in a dark void rather than having a cohesive look. Additionally, someone somewhere decided that we don't need tormentors downstage of the grand drape...because of reasons...


All good questions that I should have anticipated. Our venue has a single purchase counterweight system. At least two sets of the flats need to be flown out to allow for movement of set pieces. The periaktoi are an interesting idea. That would mean eliminating or separately flying the horizontal portion of the arch but it would basically take care of the portion of the project I was concerned about. I think I'll pitch that at our next meeting and see what people think

Thank you all for your input. Like I keep saying, I understand why people shy away from this topic, but you have all been kind and thoughtful in your responses which I am extremely grateful for.
@Nic Periaktoi would give you the option of three surfaces to paint to your designer's content and the closer you position your casters to the three corners, the more stability and resistance to tipping you gain. One side could remain black to keep from revealing the scenic sides prior to show time or during other rentals before and / or during your run.

Why did a moderator edit my post; how did I sin?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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TimMc

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@Nic Periaktoi would give you the option of three surfaces to paint to your designer's content and the closer you position your casters to the three corners, the more stability and resistance to tipping you gain. One side could remain black to keep from revealing the scenic sides prior to show time or during other rentals before and / or during your run.

Why did a moderator edit my post; how did I sin?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Very well, apparently.
 

What Rigger?

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Nic, what is your gallery space like: how high is your grid in other words?
I’m kind of waiting on @egilson to chime in, I’m away from some of my reference material due to furlough, but gimme a day or two to look at a couple things.
 
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Nic

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St. Cloud, Minnesota
Nic, what is your gallery space like: how high is your grid in other words?
I’m kind of waiting on @egilson to chime in, I’m away from some of my reference material due to furlough, but gimme a day or two to look at a couple things.
The grid is at 47' with batten high trim at 44'. The proscenium opening height is 24'.
I very much appreciate your time, WR, and I'll patiently await your reply! Thanks!
 

egilson1

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okay dokey. Here's my 2¢.

If I was needing to do this, I would procced by assembling the flats as @Robert mentioned using stiffeners. I would then use bottom hanger and keeper plates at the top for the lift lines.

What size are the plugs? I ask because the answer will determine if I place them at the top of the leg, or if small enough I might do the bottom of the leg. Or by plug to you mean header? If so procced to below.

If you are doing a portal I would recommend, if it's an option, to do the header as a separate line set. This will help in the installation, and allow you more "out" room for the legs themselves.

Do you have any drawings (even napkin cad would work) so we can visualize this properly?

Ethan
 
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What Rigger?

I'm so fly....I Neverland.
Joined
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The grid is at 47' with batten high trim at 44'. The proscenium opening height is 24'.
I very much appreciate your time, WR, and I'll patiently await your reply! Thanks!
@egilson1 kind of beat me to it, and even added something I hadn't considered.

For the sake of clarity, can we follow along with what he's laying down. (I too would like to see NapkinCAD, just to make sure I'm visualising this correctly.)
Thanks!
 
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Playajackal

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Nov 29, 2016
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Bay Area, California
Hi all - I would just like to thrown in an unsolicited suggestion - DO NOT REDUCE THE PLAYING SPACE ON YOUR STAGE DURING A PANDEMIC.

Seriously, I do believe things can be done with enough attention to risk management, but you should be keeping your performers as far apart as possible. You said you have a smaller cast - don't negate the advantage of that by putting them close together.
 

Massey28694

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Jan 19, 2019
Location
Ashe County, NC, USA
That's all fair, and like I said, I realize this is a touchy subject. I've done my best to try to stay within the ToS but if I've overstepped, please do remove the thread and accept my apologies. I'd point out that both of my solutions seem reasonable and, minimally, exhibit some general knowledge of the subject. I'm not so much asking "how do you do this?" as I am "is this in violation of a best practice that I am for some reason unfamiliar with?" Of course, I'd never ask anyone to offer any advice if they're uncomfortable doing so.



I can't believe I forgot to mention that they are broadway flats. Serves me right for attempting to ask thoughtful questions at midnight.


I own a number of set construction and rigging books and I looked through them all quite thoroughly but couldn't find the answer to my question. They are quite clear on flat construction and flat rigging but none of them went into the details on rigging them in this manner. I guess when I have an issue that involves safety and I can't find a clear answer from someone with more experience than me, I start to second guess myself. I guess this is both a good thing and a bad thing.


I'm glad to hear that I'm not completely off base here.


The good news is flying heavy things isn't something that I'm new to. I've been doing this (albeit part-time) for over a decade now. It's just nice to have a few more senior voices that can yell at me if I need it.


There are a couple of reasons we can't. The biggest is that the proposed set is already extremely minimalistic. Drawing in masking curtains will make the space look smaller but still situated in a dark void rather than having a cohesive look. Additionally, someone somewhere decided that we don't need tormentors downstage of the grand drape...because of reasons...


All good questions that I should have anticipated. Our venue has a single purchase counterweight system. At least two sets of the flats need to be flown out to allow for movement of set pieces. The periaktoi are an interesting idea. That would mean eliminating or separately flying the horizontal portion of the arch but it would basically take care of the portion of the project I was concerned about. I think I'll pitch that at our next meeting and see what people think

Thank you all for your input. Like I keep saying, I understand why people shy away from this topic, but you have all been kind and thoughtful in your responses which I am extremely grateful for.
We recently used periaktoi in a show and they worked great! Simple to make and easy to implement on stage.
 

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