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I am Stage Manager for Ballet company in Maryland we are looking at making a new tree this year. I saw an video last year to make one out of PVC pipe. Has anyone done this if so do you have a video you are willing to share???
So if I understand you, you want a 3-D tree? You could do a hoop skirt idea but that could get really big really fast. Every nutcracker I've worked the tree needed to grow and then to disappear fast so it has been flat with maybe decorations that were 3-D. Attached it to a pipe and flew it. I think we need a bit more of a plan to help you. I do nutcracker every year and would love a more realistic tree so let's talk.
Instead of hoop skirt, how about a whale bone concept like a corset? The more you bend the whale bone (which I believe some are some sort of spring steel or flexible plastic) the more dimension you give. You could easily slide the spring steel into the the pocket and use a piece of tie line to from one end to the other to give it the cureve you need. Doesn't need to be much of a curve to give dimension.
EDIT: You could even vary the degree of bend as you go up to make the tree look taller, a la forced perspective. Gentle curve at the bottom, the most severe curve at the top.
The ballet company we host does the growing tree with fabric and 1x stiffeners sewn into the tree. The front is decorated with garland and bows and they have a couple of engineer stage dads that wired in some LED lighting in an array to allow for it to light up on cue. Top is suspended to the bar and grows as has been described. It does spin a little bit at times, something to consider when making it more 3D.
The ballet that comes here every year has one that is plywood main part that is shown all the time (12'? tall). then fabric is underneath that you see when it grows. It's tied to a piece of pipe at the bottom that helps it hold its shape when flying out. Lights are placed throughout. It was made in the 80's I think and they are trying to figure a new way to do it. They asked me about 3D projection mapping. Honestly, too much work for a small part, but it's not my show...
We have an flat on now. The video i saw was a semi circle just no back made out of PVC and each layer was smaller and smaller as it grew. We do not need it to fly out right after that scene we close curtain and take it down. This video was perfect just can not find it anymore
The ballet company here uses a drop that is all netting with trees at the bottom. The drop sits folded up on the floor and with lighting, you can't see the netting. When the trees grow, we simply let the weight take the backdrop up and the trees grow.