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Hanging a Backdrop

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by dcpeter13, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. dcpeter13

    dcpeter13 Member

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    I have been working with a local grade/middle school for several years and with the help from this web site we have made a lot of improvements in how we stage our productions. All of the shows are done in the gym which introduces all kinds of challenges, lighting, sound and overall staging. One of the biggest changes I implemented is the temporary installation of a black curtain/back drop for each of our productions. This 30' long by 20' tall fabric curtain is hung on 30' of electrical conduit, which in turn is clipped to a 30' section of conduit framing which is hung from the gym rafters with ropes. My challenge is that for each show we have to get ropes over the rafters , (today it involves a modified golf ball retriever and lots of patience) get them in the right spots, manually raise the back drop then tie off the ropes.

    I am looking for an inexpensive way to raise my framing up to the ceiling. I have thought of simply installing pulleys but can't figure a way to re-thread them each time we install the backdrop. I have also entertained the idea of installing a number of small winches (the total load is < 100lbs) but the cost of installing them and the controllers may be prohibitive. I could go with a more substantial frame which would reduce the number of suspension points required which I think would simplify this.

    So, any ideas on how to raise and lower a frame from a raftered ceiling? This same approach could also be used to add a couple of light racks which is something else we really need.

    Here is a very rough sketch (not to scale) of what we have now :


    | | | | |
    | | | | | <-ropes to
    | | | | | rafters
    ======================================== <-framing
    [] [] [] [] [] [] <- clips
    ================================================ <- curtain
    |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| rod
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
    Portland, Or.
    You're going to hate this answer, but it's about as close to one as you'll get on here.
    Make contact with a local rigger or rigging supply and ask for some help. what you are getting into here goes into a CB Verboten area, that is dealing with rigging.
    I know we're talking about 100 pounds total load, but when dropped from height, it could seriously maim and it is best to leave that kind of advice up to a pro that you cn speak to face to face.
    Not too long ago I was looking at the setup in my daughters school, they have a stage in a "gymautorium" at some point in the past someone had used Bailing wire to tie little pulleys to the conduit above the stage, and that's what they had rigged a movie screen to. :rolleyes:
    Well meant I'm sure, but dangerous none the less.
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Agreed. You need to get a company in there that can do this right for you. You need a lot more put in do to this right then you think. Please, don't do this yourself. Rigging with conduit is not a good thing, it can easily bend and tear. I know you mean well, but you could get someone hurt. Call your local theatrical supplier, they should be able to get you set up pretty easily with something that is safe and effective. Also, you need to have the ceiling structure inspected before you start hanging things on it, some ceilings are not designed for extra loading.

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