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Letter drop

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by ChrisClarke, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. ChrisClarke

    ChrisClarke Member

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    We're doing a production of Calendar Girls this year. One scene calls for letters to drop gently from above - maybe 30 over a minute or so. I'm having trouble figuring how to make this happen!

    Our grid is approx 4m above the stage with another 1.5m to the ceiling. We have no equipment so anything we use would need to be hired/borrowed/made! Any ideas gratefully received!
     
  2. DRU

    DRU Member

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    In college, we did an opera that called for something similar. Our rig was actually quite simple.

    Take a wood board or a piece of steel and attach a series of screw eyes/eye bolts of a small-ish diameter to it in a line, with all the eye holes facing one direction so that a metal rod can go through them all at once. The letters run through the rod between eyes. Rig the rod to pull out of the eyes from offstage once you mount it to the grid. As you pull the rod out, the letters will drop. You can control how many letters fall at a time by adding more eyes and spreading out the letters. Make sure to taper the end of the rod so that the letters can slide off, and make a stop at the end so that the rod doesn't come completely out.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  4. ChrisClarke

    ChrisClarke Member

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    Sorry I should have been more specific - letters which have been written to one of the characters - she picks the odd one and reads it out. So perhaps some in envelopes, some on notepaper - that kind of thing. Grid has no walkways so can't use a crew member... I had thought of a ladder behind the set with someone flinging them up and forward...
     
  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Do you have a way to access overhead between shows to preset something? Any rigging that can raise and lower? A board with letters held or clipped and electro magnets, pins that pull by a string, or some other low tech remote release. I imagine a long board with a kerf cut in and somehow strings or fishline that are pulled to release the letter from the kerf. Fussy but cheap.
     
  6. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

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  7. msfixit

    msfixit Member

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    Hi all,
    I'm working with a show where the end of the show requires letters to fall from the sky. I have plans for a traditional drop box (two bottom flaps and a loose pin hinge) But I'm not sure I like the sudden "dump" these have. Has anyone found a way to make the contents fall more gradually?

    Also, this is my first time actually rigging a drop box. Are there any tricks to making sure the string can be pulled easily, but not too easy and how to thread it to an offstage area? Is it even worth looking into automating the process? It will be rigged to a batten, but could be moved to an electric and controlled with DMX.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I've built motorized boxes to drop Leaves, Letters, Flower Petals.... Let me get through my day and if no one else has satisfactorily answered your question by then I'll talk you through what I did. Or post the old drawings, if I can find them.
     
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  9. Amiers

    Amiers I wear 6 headphones. I'm that Good!!

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    You don't want a string if you don't have to.

    You could have a stand alone system with some RC4 devices and a little RC motor to pull the pin.

    As far as slower speed. You could build sloped shelves in the box to make them slow down a bit but gravity is against you on this one. You could also weight some more than others with two or three pieces of paper instead of one or none.
     
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  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Alphabet letters or snail-mail letters (with/without envelopes)?
     
  11. msfixit

    msfixit Member

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    Snail mail. Some with envelopes, some without. The director wants them to fall over a span of about 10 feet, and have them fall over a minute.
     
  12. Amiers

    Amiers I wear 6 headphones. I'm that Good!!

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    Over a minute lol. You take a stop watch to him and tell him to talk for a minute. He will change his mind.

    If he doesn't you will have to do the biggest letter box ever.
     
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  13. msfixit

    msfixit Member

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    Oh, she knows. She tends to think very very big. Very big. And this is for a high school show. I think everyone will be happy if we get 30 seconds out of one, and I build two.
     
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  14. theatrewireless

    theatrewireless Jim @RC4Wireless #LiveLifeUnthethered

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    For snow and things like that, a large perforated rolling drum overhead does the job. Lots of control of volume via the size of the openings and the speed of the drum spin. For letters, you’re looking at really large openings, otherwise too much paper will be stuck just plugging it all up. You can probably come up with a very inexpensive way to build a drum that is really nothing but a wire frame, the wires spaced quite far apart.

    Controlling the motor is easy. Use a small DC motor because it’s easy to vary it’s speed. If you want it wireless, then any RC4 dimmer can drive that motor, DMX controlled, with a battery for power. But more likely you’ll want to just use a DC power supply and some kind of simple pwm speed controller, which are very inexpensive in the hobby robotics world.

    It’s a really fun project, I hope you have a chance to do it!
     
  15. theatrewireless

    theatrewireless Jim @RC4Wireless #LiveLifeUnthethered

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    [QUOTE="Controlling the motor is easy... [/QUOTE]

    Or don’t use a motor at all — hand crank and somebody up there with it.
     
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  16. Amiers

    Amiers I wear 6 headphones. I'm that Good!!

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    Then I would say built a rectangle box on a shaft with a slot the length of the box on opposite sides top and bottom with a diagonal self that leads to the openings and rotate til empty.
     
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  17. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Is this for Eurydice?
     
  18. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    so says the OP. But that effect in Eurydice was REALLY effective when I saw it.
     
  19. Carl75

    Carl75 Member

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    Do you have any space Stage Left and Right so you can just have two tech crew on ladders with a box of letters each and throw them by hand out above the actor so they can fall without rigging some ridiculous automated thingamabob.
     
  20. kicknargel

    kicknargel Well-Known Member

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    I remember reading about the Yalies doing an auger system for a leaf drop. Probably overkill here.

    I like Amiers' idea of something that rocks back and forth with small openings so only a few would fall each time it rocks.

    Or, a box with a spring loaded bottom that pushes the letters up against a motorized drive wheel that flings them off the top of the pile.
     
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