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Hanging Sidelight

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by rochem, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    For the first time in anyone's memory, I am going to be using extensive sidelight for a show at my school. After finally convincing my TD that sidelight can actually be beneficial, I now need to figure out a way to hang them. Booms are out of the question because they take up valuable space in the wings, and we need all the space we can get for this large of a show. I have just started building a couple floor mounts from the thread this summer for the shins, but I am going to have to rig some sort of ladder mechanism for everything else. I know Altman makes hanging ladders, but at ~$300 per unit, those are well outside of our price range. A couple weeks ago when I was working at a local roadhouse, I saw that the show had hung a pipe hanging down from an electric and used that as a sidelight ladder, but I didn't get a chance to see how they did it (probably a cheeseburger).

    How do you usually set up your sidelight ladders? We have no grid or anything, so they would need to attach to battens and be as lightweight as possible to avoid overloading the lineset. Anyone have any ideas?
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Perhaps a combination of Vertical Extension Tubes (or use 1/2"-13 threaded rod) and Safer Sidearms™, or (standard sidearms)?
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Just cheeseboroughing a vertical pipe to your electric will cause it to hang funny, you really need to keep the centers of gravity inline. Either the City Theatrical Pipe end tail down for $210:
    [​IMG],
    or this Kee Klamp:
    [​IMG]

    Alternatively, a lighting ladder can be constructed from Kee Klamps, Cheeseboroughs, Rota-Locks, threaded fittings, or welded; but these get heavy quickly. Also bear in mind that a pipe-end ladder will prevent lowering the pipe to the deck, and thus the arbor to the loading bridge; and will therefore complicate counterweight loading/unloading issues. One place I worked had ladders fashioned of Unistrut, which I didn't enjoy, but seemed to function satisfactorily.

    Edit: Slightly controversial hi-jack. Make sure to safety your fixtures to the permanent structure, not to the hanging device. The controversy comes when discussing whether it's acceptable to safety all the fixtures together, or must each be "home run" to the fixed mounting position?
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  3. Wolf

    Wolf Active Member

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    One type of sidelight is achieved by hanging the fixture as far off stage as possible on the electric. This is probably not the desired affect but it is an option.

    and slightly off topic but, what did you discus with your TD so he would allow you to do this?
     
  4. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I am including high sides in the design as well, and these will be used throughout the show as part of a wash. But I really want some light from lower angles to create a couple interesting looks on stage for a number of key scenes.

    My TD is really good at sound for the theatre, pretty good at general construction and such, but not so knowledgeable about lighting. He can run the board, but only the very basic things, and he is firmly set into the idea that you should use McCandless to the letter, R02 and R60 in all lights, and then hang specials using 6" fresnels over the stage. So it took me a while to convey to him that having a light coming from a very low angle from the side in a specific scene would help to add to the tension and such. It wasn't so much not being allowed, as him not seeing why I would want to put lights there. We haven't started talking about how were going to rig it or anything yet, just established that it is at least worth a try. If it turns out to be way too expensive or time-consuming, then he'll most likely just say that it's not worth the trouble. So I need to come up with some possible solutions, then relay those to him to see what he thinks.
     
  5. bhallerm

    bhallerm Member

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    Michael,

    I'm a new high school TD that's learning lighting at a rapid pace, so take this with a grain of salt. We did some side light in our fall production to create a sunrise look. You mentioned that space is a premium, but could you put up light trees? The bases we have are pretty inconspicuous and hold up a 7' pipe. We hung 3 fresnels on each one plus dimmers. Like I said, I'm no lighting guru so forgive me if I'm stating or missing anything obvious.

    BJH
     
  6. Raktor

    Raktor Active Member

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    I would post how to do it, but all my terms are Australian. ;)

    Big pipe, clamped to end of electrics bars, lights clamped to big pipe.

    I'm sure you can understand that :)
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    [user]bhallerm[/user], [user]rochem[/user] stated:
    The terms "tree" and "boom" are synonymous, although in some circles, the term tree is frowned upon: I once had an LD correct me "It's called a boom; dogs p!ss on trees!" Sort of like bulb and lamp.:)

    The most common means of support is a fifty pound boom base, approximately 24" in diameter,
    [​IMG].

    Although, if floor space is at a premium, a four inch floor flange
    [​IMG] may be lagged into the the stage deck, with the top of the boom tied off to the grid [​IMG].
    It is recommended that any boom over 12' tall, or one with many fixtures at the top, be tied off regardless of the base used.

    Upon closer inspection of the original post, if one has room for a shin fixture, one has room for a boom, unless the shin is to be a rover, easily able to be removed and repositioned. The "airspace rights" of a shinkicker is the same as for a boom, unless one has some sort of odd cantilever scenic piece.;)
     
    bhallerm and (deleted member) like this.
  8. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    This has always bothered me, since boom can then mean the trees, or a box boom on the sides of the space. I prefer tree since it is a more specific designation, but I know that's not standard.
     
  9. bhallerm

    bhallerm Member

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    ...and this is why I joined this forum. :) We have those exact bases, but the ones we use most are 50 lb. flat ones. They are only about an inch or two thick and dang near blend in to the stage when there is no pole or lights on it.

    BJH
     
  10. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I generally refer to anything floor-mounted as a boom, and anything hanging from above as a ladder. In my theatre, the box booms are generally called trees since they only go to about 8 feet above our stage level (an almost perfectly flat angle). I've generally only heard "tree" used when referring to a fixed position, such as box booms or a Portal Boom on the inside of the proscenium.

    Having booms (floor-mounted) would be fine for 95% of the show, but there's some large set pieces which have to come on and off. In theory, if we were able to easily move the boom out of the way for a scene change then move it back, this would be best. However, booms are by necessity very heavy, and it would be more trouble than its worth. We could get booms with casters, but I would think that it would be very hard to get your focus back exactly how it was before, since the wheels can move around. As the shins will be pretty light, we will have large white taped boxes on the deck where they go, and just remove them quickly before they need to be gone, then replace them.

    I don't know what the rated strength of a safety cable is, but they are at least strong enough to hold a ~100 lb moving light if it were to fall, correct? So in theory, it should also easily support at least 5 Source Fours, at ~16 lbs each. I dont want to hijack this thread, but it might make a good poll.
     
  11. Gretsch

    Gretsch Member

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    I would suggest welding a "T" out of schedual 20 or 40 pipe with the top about 2' and the drop down about 4'. Then you can cheesebugger the top to your elex pipe and you should be in good shape. I would make sure to place it to the fairly close to your pick point though so as to prevent any deflecting. For safetying off the instruments I would probably drill a hole through the pipe every foot to pass the cable throught.
     
  12. tcahall

    tcahall Member

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    I second the build a drop. Cheeseborough is great. If you are on a budget, you may want to look at Kee-Lite products. They are fittings for assembling chain link fencing, so they are pretty tough and come in swivel, 90 degree, 45 degree etc. This allows you to clamp on to the electric and clamp on to your vertical easily.

    With regard to safeties, whatever you do for the lights, I would drill a hole in the vertical pipe and put the vertical on ITS OWN safety. If the clamp lets go, having something keeping the entire assembly from impaling someone might be a solid idea.:mrgreen:

    Tim.
     
  13. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    This summer all we would do for our taildowns(ladders) was to just cheesebourgh an 8'-10' pipe onto the batten it takes a little bit of work to get everything to hang straight but its cheap and easy to setup. One trick is to stick the vertical pipe on the DS side of the batten and then when you hang your lights put the body of the light on the US side of the taildown.
     
  14. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I like the "giant T" idea thing, that sounds like it could work well, except it takes up a little extra space on the electric that you can't use otherwise. I will look into that though.

    @Traitor - this is how I saw it a few weeks ago on the touring production. The pipe was cheeseboroughed to the DS edge, and instruments were hung all on the US edge. I wasn't sure why they didn't divide instruments per side, but now it makes more sense. Also, in this show they used a short length of pipe and two cheeseboroughs to make a 45* brace near the top of the pipe, from the pipe to the batten. I assume this would probably make it much sturdier and straighter.
     
  15. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  16. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I am not a big supporter of welding anything in pure suspension, especially overhead, with only 2 welds. Also, I would not do this with schedule 20 pipe, I would even shy away from doing with with Sch 40. Both of those sizes of pipes can easily "tear out" at the weld. Most of the time I have seen welds fail in a theatre, its not due to the weld failing, its do to the piece being torqued and the steel near the weld tears.

    I would not make this yourself, buy the proper tail downs if you are going to go this route.

    If you are going to have them made, do not make them yourself. The typical off the shelf welder from Home Depot/Lowes/whatever does not have the power to properly weld Sch 80 pipe. Take it to a welding shop and have a certified welder do the welds.
     
  17. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Derailing this thread a little bit, what does it take to weld Sch 80? Not that I plan on doing it, especially in any sort of overhead or structural application; it's the curious nerd in me wondering. I'm gonna guess it takes a stick welder and a fair bit of current.
     
  18. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    I was going to suggest the floor flange as well. Although, if it needs to move out of the way for scenic changes, I would suggest either a pipe cheeseboroughed down with a 45* pipe to brace it. OR A 50lb base, making sure to wrench the units down well at focus, then spike four points on the base and floor so you can spin the boom out of the way and back into place. However, I would highly suggest a safety line up top to prevent the boom from falling completely over while moving.
     
  19. erico3456

    erico3456 Member

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    If you have borders hanging in the wing then just putting the booms close to the borders which are already breaking up the space allows a lot of room for set pieces to come on and off, plus the light are well hidden. We have done this for many productions. Also if you can adjust the lighting positions so that one is near the front of the stage, one in the back, and maybe one in the middle they might be out of the way so that set can move. I don't know if I would recommend casters on the boom unless you had straight rolling casters and good taping, and a way to block them off to make sure they don't come out of focus.
     
  20. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Unfortunately due to the server upgrade my good post in this thread was deleted, but I am going to try and recreate it a little as it is important.

    First of all, creating booms often falls under the category of rigging. Hanging tail downs or ladders off of flown pipes or dead hung from the grid IS rigging. If you do not know what you are doing then you should call a professional. Rigging any of the above applications incorrectly can cause serious injury or death!

    That being said, unless things have change in the past few years, I was taught that chesboroughs are not rated for hanging pipes in a vertical orientation off of a horizontal pipe. Much like C-clamps (most of which are not rated) we tend to use chesboroughs improperly. There are other devices like the Rota-Locks and Gridlock clamps that do carry a rating, and many of the newer style cast aluminum pipe couplers carry a rating. This is yet one more reason that you should consult a professional if you don't know what you are doing.

    There are so many things wrong with this that I am going to say again: If you don't know what you are doing you should call a professional.

    Lets start with "wrench the units down well..." Your units should always be tight, however over-tightening things like c-clamps can be very dangerous. Tightening c-clamps more than about a half turn past finger tight can put too much stress on the clamp and cause the clamps to bend or break. This is not to mention the fact that over-tightening can damage the c-clamp bolt as well as the pipe that you are hanging on.

    Now lets think about moving booms. First of all, a 50# base plus pipe and fixtures weighs a lot. Moving a boom that is hung with lights is very difficult and dangerous even when picked off to the grid. This is besides the fact that a pick to the grid makes it very difficult to move the boom anywhere. Putting anything other than a very short boom on a mobile base can be dangerous as you have fewer points of contact with the floor, and unless you make the base pretty big, you increase the potential to tip over the boom.

    Also consider that a 50# base cannot support a tall boom by itself. Especially if you happen to hang all the lights on one side of the boom. Most of the time this means that the boom has to be fixed to the deck or weighted down in addition to being picked off to the grid, thus making it difficult to move

    So, if this post has muddied the waters or makes readers rethink what they may be attempting you should consult a professional. The most important thing is your safety and the safety of those who share the space with you, so, once more, if you have any doubts about what your are doing consult a professional!
     

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