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On Stage Rain

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by zandranight, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. zandranight

    zandranight Member

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    This year we did a small artsy show called Crave, which, in our directors vision, centered around the creation of Jackson Pollock style paintings during the interactions of the actors. Obviously, a limited, lights up, lights down, focus on acting piece. I wasn't worried at all and ignored the upcoming date of the show. The saturday before the thursday show, the director and i sat down to discuss what sort of light or sound he may need for the show in our little black box theatre of 65 seats. after that, he asked a simple question- i know its kindve late in the game, but do you think you could... make it rain? i thought he was kidding. 5 days to create an effect like rain in our little space, for a show with a budget no larger than the cost for rights?

    Of course, i'm a stubborn woman, and i have my pride. so i said sure, i'd see it happen. and it did! barely.

    so here is a simple low cost formula for rain to save those with low budget the engineering trial and error i went through.

    clear off a far back light bar, far enough away not to get your wall wet (especially if its drywall!). buy a length of pvc pipe (1/2 inch was perfect for us) and a very small drill bit (i'm talkin 1/20 of an inch) and drill tiny holes down the length of the pvc. with the pvc purchase several buckets, flanges, valves, and connectors as necessary. drill a hole in the bottom of each bucket, large enough for the flange to sit on the inside and the valve to attach vertically, hanging underneath the bucket. do this to all the buckets (in our case, there were 3 5 gallon buckets- this required cutting the pvc in half and attaching the 2nd bucket in the center) next, we attached a 90 degree turn to our valve, and attached that to our pipe! we then proceeded to hang the buckets and pipe contraption on our far light, after clearing any electrics- water and electricity is no fun. attach string to each valve, and run it either straight down (as we did, so the actors could control when the water came) or to your booth or back stage. fill the buckets with water (you dont need 15 gallons! 9 or so worked for about 3-5 mins which is all we needed), and pull the string! though it doesnt seem like it would work- it does! with marvelous effects.

    Check out how it looks-
    http://img360.imageshack.us/img360/6815/n5316446351878404708gz4.jpg
    http://img380.imageshack.us/img380/1378/n5316446351878415043pc0.jpg

    of course... cleanup is a mess. among all the paint, the water, and the trashbags we used to line the floor, cleanup was a necessity after every show, with or without receptacles to catch the water.

    and people thought it couldn't be done... ha!

    total amount spent? $23.75... not including the cost of the clothes that were ruined while cleaning up that mess!
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Good for you, [user]zandranight[/user]. For a slightly more complex effect, see this thread.:)
     
  3. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Did you have anything down to catch the water? If so, what did you use?
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hmmm... People in their underwear covered in paint with rain... that's either artsy or porn.

    Next time add some fabric fringe of varying lengths to your pipe... suppose you could just add a lot of tie line. The water will run down the fringe at different rates some dripping straight others accumulating into a variety of sized drops. It helps to make the rain look more realistic and less uniform than just straight drilling. Also putting the holes on top of the pipe so the water has to flow around the pipe helps add character.

    The wide shot looks like you set up some sort of trough to collect the water?
     
  5. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Neat approach.

    Any trouble with flying out the 72 pounds of water?


    Joe
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Equus, and no Daniel Radcliffe wasn't.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. zandranight

    zandranight Member

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    yes, we did have something to catch the water which worked surprisingly well (but which shouldve been painted black but werent due to the tight schedule): plastic window planters without the holes on the bottom.

    Wow, thats a great idea! I don't know if it wouldve worked in this situation, since we are in a space which was not really intended for theatre and all the bars are completely visible (no drapery or anything hiding them). While most people didnt notice an extra pipe among the pipes, they may have noticed string... but than again... probably not. audiences are so often clueless! We did try putting holes on top of the pipe which did make a very cool effect- but it didnt last long due to a lack of water pressure. if we had more water in the contraption it probably wouldve worked better for it, but lasted too long.

    absolutely. nothing more fun than filling buckets in the bathroom sink, clambering up onto a rickety old piece of scaffolding, hoisting said buckets over your head to dump into the buckets of our contraption, in the hour between every show, while cleanup was going on.
    actually the biggest weight problem was in the plastic buckets. once they were full of water, they made lots of lovely creaking noise, making me glad we had hung them by drilling holes through the thickest parts and stringing them up with safety cable.

    thank you so much for all your comments and interest!
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I actually saw the fringe trick done in a local professional theater in the round place. It was there for all to see the whole show. Of course I was the only one in the house who said to myself... "Hmm cool variation on rain let's see how it works". The only negative to the fringe trick is that it drips for a while after the water is shut off. This was also a big operation so they had a hot water heater installed in the catwalks to keep the actors warm and automated valves to control it remotely without strings.
     
  9. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Yep....this is a great way to get it to rain onstage...done it once or twice myself.
     

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