makeing a giants leg


Well-Known Member
For the spring musical at my school we are doing Into the Woods. We need to construct a big giants leg that will be able to swing on, and then fall over. Dose anyone have any sugestions for how to do this? Also, we don't have a fly at all, so dose anyone have any brilant ideas on how to do this without a fly (long story, but we were going to get a fly that would move up and down, the entire system would move up and down, but the ibeams that we were going to put it into arn't strong enough so...)

First the leg design. Needs to be light but fairly strong I would think. One of these days I should read that play. Chicken wire and paper-mache will probably break up too easily when it falls. Fiberglass would be good but probably at a higher tech level and expense than you want. Perhaps chicken wire and dutchmen? Hardware Cloth with ½" holes would be preferable in this instance to chicken wire because of it’s rigidity. Build the frame with 1x lumber and plywood to support the wire stapled to it, than glue and staple to the frame your fabric. Sobo or other flex glues would also be preferable. Prehaps doing it in one piece of fabric would be a good thing also, and easy if you can soak such a thing well enough for sufficient coverage of glue. At least make it with large strips. Perhaps also doing a glue up of fabric on the inside of the frame than sandwiching the wire frame between layers of fabric would be most effective for strength.

After the fabric is installed, paint it with latex paint. Such paint should be flexible enough to withstand some falling abuse. You now have a fabric covered leg with a frame.

For support, since you can’t hang it seemingly, than how about using a lever and a fulcrum? Think either carrot on a stick or just rigging the leg so it is supported by the lever that’s on a pivot point placed up high. Lever supports the leg from up high and with some possible secondary support, you can make it move about.

Than it’s only a question of making some form of release for the leg and another way to ensure it’s going to fall in the direction you want it to each time. Should be easy enough to come up with but subject for other people probably or later thoughts.

Any help?
yea, that helps a lot, thanks

what i was trying to figure out was how to get however it is held up to release. I don't want 3 ropes to follow the leg as it comes down on the stage. Im trying to think of ways to position it for that (I haven't read the script yet, but I am assuming that is a big part of the show)...

any ideas for that? how to get a "quick-ditch" system of sorts so you don't see how it is held up when the leg comes down?
Lever and fulcrum. The fulcrum is on a high post, the lever extends past the sight lines and is long enough so you have mechanical advantage over it and can make it dance on stage just by lifting and swinging it about. Swing it on stage as needed etc. Something like a swivel caster at the top of the fulcrum so it will pivot and hinge as needed - but with the wheel removed and the lever placed into it's bolt or axis point for support. The leg trips around the stage as if a marionette or kind of fly fishing bate.

Perhaps a second person with a thin second rod or pole lightly attached to the fulcrum stand or indipendant of it that is running a second lever to make it kick as needed from a lower contact point. I'm thinking stage braces with their hook for the main lever for a start, and perhaps something like a 3/8" grounding rod for the second lever. Can't beat a 1x1 oak stage brace for strength especially if painted black to disappear as needed. Than the grounding rod, copper with a steel core, nothing stronger or more bend resistant given the size.

On the stage brace and when in the lower part of the hook it's secure and as long as it does not touch the floor too hard which would lift the ring for the leg out of the hook. In normal idea use, it can do what you want with swinging and tripping it's way around the stage. When you twist the ring on the leg by way of hook in the pole - given the caster pivot allows you to pivot the stage brace so that the leg becomes unattached from the stage brace/lever than it lacks support and falls.

Perhaps the second person pushes it on stage and into the desired falling position. Such a stage brace given the chance of touching the floor too hard and coming loose at an inopportune moment would be unsafe to use, but some form of lock and release be it rope with spring latch or selenoid latch can be come up with I'm sure. This is the general idea brain storming desgn phase.

The first step is the idea on how to do it, the next step is what details are required after the idea in general. You worry about details and physical things too early in design at too early a stage and your design suffers. What in the grand scheme of design does it matter if you stock 4x8 flats, but design for the 4'-9" wide flats on a platform already than decide or let the TD worry about if a extension is absolutely necessary, but only after the artistic statement of the 4'-9" stuff is part of the concept. Yea 4'-9 " platforms might be unrealistic to build for the show but who cares until you get it all down on paper and at a later point you decide if that odd size of platform is absolutely necessary for design integrety in concept or not. Same with this. Figure on something in general to do the work, than worry about the details. Design the thing already, dont' worry about the tech of it yet.

The designer comes up with the wacky ideas, and perhaps part of the simple how to, it's the job next of a good TD to figure out how to put it on stage safely. In your case in doing both, first just design the thing, than worry about the details.

I have some famous designer for the next Kidd Rock tour that decided that he wanted ray lights or some sort of bulk type very narrow spot beam lights to shine down during the show be it ACL, VNSP or what ever. He wanted something brighter than could otherwise be achieved with a ray light or before used, but in a quanity that was echonomical as a non-moving light and was for the most part stock in not costing a huge amount to achieve the look. Can't exactually come up with a few tens of dozens in beam projectors anymore though they are popular again for rays of light. The Ray light for rock and roll fits the bill but inspite of it's dichroic fileter, it's still not bright enough for this requested and designed use.

This designer asked me as a tech person or TD as it were in solving tech issues and one that knows lamps what would be most powerful for the application only after his wacky idea was on paper. That's the proper way to do it. I knew of a new to the market 800w as opposed to 600w Ray light lamp, but would not have had a use for it until he had the vision for something brighter as a multitude of beams of light in a show. That's how it works. Idea or concept first, than you figure out how to do it, or scale down if not possible yet. He put 60+ of the new lamp into the show - at $10.00 per lamp, they and the 130 plus silver rock and roll par cans we need to buy for the project that will be arriving some time in the next few weeks that I have to wire fulfill the design concept. (Yea, the rock PAR 64 fixture is dead now that ETC fixtures are on the market, go ahead and sell off all the 1,000+ used cans we used to stock - we don't need them anymore, as it were in thinking without a tech person's planning.)

Anyway, the designer had a concept, wanted something brighter than normally avalilable for a beam of light in mind - be it from any lamp in a PAR 64 fixture or what ever, and designed in part the show around it such a image. Imagine 60 Raylights on one stage that are almost as intense as a follow spot. Great idea, now let's do it. Once the idea was out there it was just a question of finding what lamp or tech solution for the problem was appropriate for the concept. That's the way art works and why we as tech people are in the business be it either wacky designs or in figuring out how to make them work. Figure out first you need a leg, than what it needs to do, than as a designer what general way is physically possible to accomplish it for what it needs to do. After all that, trust in the TD or world of solutions out there as to the details in getting it done. If not, you tried your best concept and will come up with a substitute. At least you did not begin by scaling art back to reality. Oh' my grid won't support a leg bouncing around on it, - get over it, next step is what? Where would we all be if we liven in reality? Design the show than worry about how to make the art a reality.

Lever and fulcrum, block and fall, horizontal fly system or what ever, it's the design at this stage that counts. Next comes the details on what latch system to use and what method of rigging will accomplish it given limitations. 9-1" ceiling height, now how do you think I made it so the drapes were able to raise vertically not track out of the way? In theater, form does not follow function, function follows form. You invision it, than figure out how to get it done.

Given the grid won't support such a thing as a giant's leg bouncing about the stage, my initial thought is that the floor will suppport it, but you need to have a pivot point well above the stage thus the fulcrum. The hinge part of a caster - wheel removed will work for that frames' lever support, now just a question of what details are needed to make it kick instead of just bounce, plus let the thing drop.

Read the play, not once but three times than determine what's needed to be done, who is going to be around that you should avoid in controlled falling upon and other blocking or design concept issues with it. Given an idea otherwise posted or two or three plus mine, than think about blocking on this leg and what's needed for it to fall not to mention where it's needed to fall. Will the lever and fulcrum idea even work? After that refine than worry about details like how is it going to release. Design the thing than worry about engineering it in the end.

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