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Motorized curtains on set

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by cvanp, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. cvanp

    cvanp Active Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I'm currently designing our set for "Guys and Dolls" and I'm working on the Havana scene. I have the design fairly simple - four large strips of fabric and a rising/setting sun a la Lion King. However I had the idea of making these four large strips of fabric movable; so they each are on some sort of independent motor so we can control their rise and descent onto the set and have a few configurations based on what's happening on stage.

    Here's how the sets look in various configurations:
    havana1.jpg
    havana2.jpg
    havana3.jpg

    I think that kind of illustrates what I'm going for - each piece moving independently.

    Any fancy motorized stuff I do has to be hung on a bar. We only have one bar available for this piece as well (the sun has a bar too but that will be independent). I wish I had some ideas as how to approach this but I haven't a clue as to the types of motors, what kind of controls, etc. This is all new to me!

    Any ideas?

    Thanks...
    Chris

    P.S. - Some probably unnecessary dimensions, but they're here if needed:

    Height from stage to bottom of the front border curtain: 4.47 metres / 14' 6"
    Width of stage: 16.76 metres / 55'
    Width of those curtain things: 1.2192 metres / 4'
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Probably the easiest and least expensive solution is to make them hand operated olio style drop. So you would have the fabric attached to a drum that the fabric can roll up onto. You would then have control lines from each that you can pull one way to roll them up and one way to unroll them. You would then direct the control lines to either side of the stage and probably have 4 operators.

    To do it with motors would require a lot of work. You would have to find variable speed reversible motors. You would probably need some kind of gear reducers to get the drops moving at a manageable speed, and you would need a way to control them. Though it is doable, it is probably more costly and time consuming than it is worth.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Nice renderings by the way. What did you use to create them? Even has a light source!
     
  4. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Sketchup, if I'm not mistaken.

    Hey, pass the sKETCHUP with those fries, Derek! (I gotta stop the puns!)
     
  5. cvanp

    cvanp Active Member

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    Charcoaldabs is right... it's Sketchup. I used to use it for 3d storyboarding (filmmaking) and when I made the transition into theatre I found it was awesome for designing sets too.

    Icewolf08: thanks for the Olio suggestion. I hadn't thought much about a pulley system. An olio system looks like it would fit the job though!

    Thanks very much!
     
  6. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Yeah ! And he does Sketchup!

    Here's a link.
    http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/items/1LNG9

    Now, these puppeis aren't cheap. but they would definately do the job. They are 17 RPM and reversible 12VDC. You could easily build a 12volt power supply and using SPST switches, controlled by a master DPDT switch, you could even have a decent control system. Using a 4" - 6" diameter PVC pipe would do for the "roller" you'd just need to fab a "yoke" to hold each end of the pipe in place, then connect the motor shaft to a through shaft to provide the rotation. I could sketch something if you think this is inside your budget restraints. .
     
  7. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    If I were to take this route I'd go with a polarity reversing momentary on switch. I can point you towards a link, I could only find one good place to get 'em, though let me know if you find more. It has 10 guage leads on it too. Polarity reversing controls motor direction and momentary on is so nothing ever gets stuck on, which will burn out a motor (important for projector douser project which I did.) The tricky but would be spiking the height. It might be easiest to just eye-ball everything, or have reference marks along the walls.
     
  8. cvanp

    cvanp Active Member

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    I think we could squeeze some money for them. Having them on a motor would just be so much more smooth. If you are able to do the drawings that would be awesome - otherwise, thanks very much just for passing along this info. It's greatly appreciated!
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I'll play with it this weekend. Need to see my family a little bit as I'm opening a show on Friday night and I think they've forgotten who I am....Look to my posting at sunrise on the 5 day........< that was a stupid LOTR tie-in>
     
  10. cvanp

    cvanp Active Member

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    I'm looking at the Olio/Roll Drop now possibly for another part of the production (we're assembling a false proscenium and rising house curtain for Hot Box sequence). The Olio seems pretty self explanatory, however I'm hearing a few things about an "inverted olio" or "inverted roll drop" that essentially has the rolling drum at the top. An inverted structure would actually be better for this set too if the motors don't work out.

    Has anyone heard of this? Does anyone know of any diagrams that would demonstrate that? Having the drum at the top would make the drop appear a bit cleaner and wouldn't have the ropes hanging along the side.

    Thanks!
     
  11. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    When you say "inverted olio" I would think the drum would be at the bottom. In general with an olio, the drop rolls up on to a drum above. They work kind of like the roll up window shades.

    The easiest way to make it work would be to get one of the pulleys that pinches the rope (like what is at the very top of a winch on a sailboat, I am not sure what the real name for them is) and attach that to the end of the drum and put a loop of rope in it. Or you could attach a motor to the end of the drum. I am sure that there are people who can explain better than me.
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    A traditional olio, also called "roll drop," has the drum (4"-12" in diameter depending on the height of the drop) at the bottom, on the upstage side of the drop so it isn't seen. I had to look through four texts, before finding the definition in Scenography and Stage Technology, Willard. F. Bellman. Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.

    In the OP's scenario, putting the roller(s) at the top certainly makes for a cleaner look, and thus would be an "inverted olio."
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    There was a detailed discussion of Olio's a year or so back... I think I even made a little sketch of one. I built one several years ago and I just loved working with ancient theater technology.

    I've never heard of an inverted one. Sounds very interesting. I'm not sure how you would rig it.

    EDIT: Found the thread that I sketched the Olio for.

    I suppose after further thought the only problem is figuring out a way to make that drum roll really smoothly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2007
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Interesting, shows how much scenery work i really do... In any event, I have always seen roll drops done with the drum above, it is essentially the same principle except gravity is in your favor!
     

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