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Moving scenery for changes

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by alekei, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. alekei

    alekei Member

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    Location:
    Lisboa-Portugal
    Hello!

    I would like to know a method for making the scenery pieces move in and out of the stage to change the enviroment of a specific moment.

    For example: the scene is in a park, and there is onstage a Park Bench, a small fountain and a Park light. I want that all these move by itself outstage and at the same time enters into the stage a wall, as desk and some other props, to change into an Office.

    Any Idea about how to accomplish this?
     
  2. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    Well, this is probably too complex for high schools, but you would need some kind of motorized platform, and light scenery. When I saw Sweet Charity on broadway, everything moved in on their own. There was not a single stagehand on stage, ever. I was pretty much in awe the entire show, from a technical perspective, but that's another story. Actually, the scene you describe sounds like a scene in the show.

    Something like this: http://www.teamwhyachi.com/stagebot.htm Those guys do good work, I know about them from my other hobby. It seemed like Sweet Charity used some kind of tracking system, since I thought I saw seams in the floor where the sets moved in.
     
  3. ricc0luke

    ricc0luke Active Member

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    one option would be to build a false stage and build tracks for all your scenery in it. your still left with how to move it along the tracks... but its probably going to be cheaper than a fancy little remote control robot (as cool as that is).

    whats wrong with a stage crew doing it? when well cheorgraphed the movement of scenery can be intagrated into the show very nicly and can be very unabtrusive and not disrupt or subtract from the show in anyway

    and as cool as it is to see professional shows that have all of the scenery movements autmated, i have to say that i still prefer the shows where is the a traditional running crew of stage hands...
     
  4. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Automated scenery is something that takes some preplanning. First of all does the scenery travel in a straight line or does it take a curved path? If it takes a curved path I think you put the motor on the set piece and drive it like a remote control car. If it travels in a straight line you have that option as well or use a track. With a track there is a false stage built up over the real stage. the reason for the false stage is you need to run the wire under the floor and unless you are able to put holes in the stage its the best way to use the system. The main parts of a simple automation system are cable, a winch pulleys and a dog. Cable is pretty obvious, it is what pulls the set piece, the winch takes in the cable and lets it out to move the dog, the dog is a piece of metal in the cable with a slot. The slot accepts a piece of metal from the set piece so that the set piece does not have to live above the track at all times.
    0```````----`````````````````````````````X
    `````````````````````````````````````````
    key
    0 pully
    ```` cable
    ----- dog
    X whinch
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Location:
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    if you are moving very large wagons onstage and cant cut slots in your stage you could always get slotted casters.... grainger sells them.. and they run on top of angle iron... you could also do jackknifed pieces.... my 2cents is to invest in really good casters so the piece can spin or do whatever it needs to w/o issues.... also if you are really darring and have some time on your hands aircasters can also be fun....
     
  6. nate

    nate Member

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    As a high school stage manager, I am very fond of the idea of using people rather than machines to accomplish set changes. I have been SM for three years now and after every show I hear people talking about how fast and quick the scene changes are. The cecret to getting the set on and off in such a hurry and so quiet is simple: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. We work all of tech week and every extra chance we get. If you time everything and plan it well, it almost seems as though there is no delay in the action of the production. If you do everything just right, then most of the audience won't be able to tell the difference between people and machines. Plus at high school level and with the small budget we are on, practicing to get the timing just right is a much better and more efficient than using a machine.
     
  7. LDSFX

    LDSFX Member

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    Location:
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    In general, scenic automation is only available to the very high end broadway-quality shows. Some shows (such as Mama Mia and WICKED) feature over a dozens axes of scenic automation which are all controlled by a massive data network from Scenic Technologies (the premier automation expert of today). I worked in a venue that had one downstage, left to right axis installed, but it was so hard to maintain that they eventually painted over it, rendering it uselss.

    A fun fact: shows with stage decks require EXTREMELY clean conditions. Stages must be swept and mopped more than once a night to keep all dust out of the cabel, shives, and motors. As a matter of fact, when Little Shop of Horrors was recently in LA, the DS/US axis that moved the entire set got jammed during intermission, causing ACT 2 to start 45 minutes late.

    In short, unless you can get a professional to engineer your automation, I would advise a clean, well-choreographed scene change with stage hands.
     
  8. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    I saw a show at the Carousel Dinner Theater in Akron, Ohio two years ago. They did something very interesting with their sets.

    They had a truck with an office scene on it that had to fly on and off quickly during a fairly bright DR scene (the office was more ULC). They had two+ 8' (I am assuming 8'... it could have been bigger or smaller) 2x4's hinged together in a long line. They attached the line of hinged 2x4's to the center of mass of the truck and pushed it on stage. The 2x4's were painted black to blend in with the floor, and when the truck hit its mark, the boards laid flat on the stage. When the truck cleared, they pulled the 2x4's off of the stage. I am assuming that the hinges were put in because the depth of the wing from where the truck was flying was smaller than the distance to the truck's spike. They would fold up the 2x4's as the truck got closer. I thought that it was a pretty cool step around automation, but at the same time quickly became annoyed with the *thwack* sound the wood made when it hit the floor. Some form of padding, maybe?

    On a different note, all of the sets that GVHS uses are multi-use truck platforms. One side is one scene, and then a quick rotation (which can be done by 2 - 3 stage hands outside of the audience's site lines) changes the scene. Try this. Then choreograph your change to whatever interlude you have. For us, it is usually the 10 seconds of "between the scenes music".

    Good luck!
     
  9. jonhirsh

    jonhirsh Active Member

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    Hey let me get th is straight your saying they flew the truck in from the grid? That is what flying denotes or did they push the truck on stage from the wings?

    JH
     
  10. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    Hi Jon,

    Poor choice of verbs. They didn't fly the truck in from the grid. They pushed it on with the 2x4's. "Fly" kept popping into my mind as their set changes were incredibly fast.

    I don't ever think that I saw trucks flown in from the grid. Is this done? Sounds spooky.

    Thanks!

    Tenor.
     
  11. jonhirsh

    jonhirsh Active Member

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    I figured im just being a jack ass lately so i thought i would bust your chops.

    JH
     

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