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OZ Balloon to "Float"

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by Rockey, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. Rockey

    Rockey Member

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    Can anyone help me with some good ideas for an effect in our production of the Wizard of Oz? First of all, we are not flying any actors in this production... at all. But... The director would really love some kind of effect to look like the balloon with the wizard in the end is actually flying away (you know, like in the movie, when he leaves without Dorothy). Anyway, projection is not possible. Any ideas for any kind of scenic effect that would make it look like he's beginning to fly away without actually lifting the actor? So far, the design of the balloon is simply a basket with three ropes attached to a lineset out of sightlines.
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    Again, I offer two options from my high school days and my college days.

    At my high school we built a huge basket that was on wheels. The basket was about three feet in the air - supported by a wooden frame painted gray to match the deck. Attached to the basket were four 2x4's (one in each corner) at the top we built on a balloon-type thing that was just painted wood arches (each side was about one sheet of plywood.) Note: The 2x4's were placed at an outward angle, and not perpendicular to the floor. Building the box as a trapezoidal prism instead of a cube helps with this. Then, when the time came he was simply pulled off stage via ropes by four people.

    Here at my college they took a more artistic approach and simply built some type of rope ladder that could move off stage - there was no balloon at all. I was not a part of building this so I don't know exactly how it worked.
     
  3. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    For our production we built the basket on wheels and had it just in the wings off stage right. A "helper" (Ozian) was holding a rope that looped thru a pully on a batten, with the other end of the rope off stage. When "toto" runs away, the Ozian lets go of the rope and people offstage pulled it thru the pully. The rope rises and the basket was quickly rolled offstage, with the rest of the Wizard's lines said from offstage. A bit cheezy, but with the audience's focus elsewhere (toto, the rope) the effect worked pretty well.
     
  4. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I saw a production once where the basket was elevated slightly, and then rolled off stage. They drew a smaller mockup of the balloon across the cyc in the background while the wizard finished his lines offstage.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Another vote for basket raised up but on wheels. Hide the structure that supports it behind something else. Roll it off stage.
     
  6. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    Location:
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    Some giant carboard clouds that can reach right across the stage would be perfect here.

    Bonus points for rigging each one to a pully and managing to keep them moving without exposing spaces.
     
  7. joeb

    joeb Member

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    In a summer production of Wizard I worked on (not my design), the basket flew in on an upstage lineset, and was only a custom flat rigged with hemp rope. It flew in between a SL and SR series of low flats that had previously formed parts of the city of OZ (about 2-4 feet high at points). This happened behind a drop very quickly. When it came time for the basket rope to be accidentally let go, much screaming followed and many of the ozians rushed the balloon. The Wizard then quickly ducked down and replaced himself with a cutout (actual photo mounted on black foam core, but this could be done on luaun or similar by a good painter). The wizard crawled offstage, hidden behind the flats, delivering his lines as he went. The cutout then flew out with the balloon. Believe it or not, the effect worked for children, and it caused a good laugh for the adult members of the audience - after all I think that's what the Wizard of Oz is about. Another possibility would be to do a similar bit where the wizard falls down when the ballon is suddenly lifted and all you see is his costumed arm or him bent over (a cleverly placed mannequin flipped up or over the basket) as it flies out and he crawls away. If you didn't want to use the idea of him crawling behind a groundrow, you could also have him lose an article or two of his clothing so he blended in with the other Ozians and remained onstage leaving with them.
     
  8. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    If you have an open traveller track, you can do a nifty trick. The basket is a flat that is hung from traveller carriers very high to trim so you see the bottom of the basket. A rope ladder hangs below that. (The top of the ladder needs to be teminated properly into traveller carriers. The idea is to suggest the balloon's start height is already 15 feet off the ground and the Wizard and Dorothy will have to climb up to the balloon.

    The Wizard climb three rung up the ladder so he is only 2 feet or so off the deck. Toto runs off, Ozian drops rope, and balloon, basket, and wizard on the rope ladder are travelled off stage.

    The rope ladder may have to be manufactered with aircraft cable at the core of the rope to make sure you can have safe, strong lines that will properly support the weight of the actor.

    To do this gag effectively you need to be a competent rigger, or access to one. Don't try it if you have never done load rated terminations.
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I missed out early on this, sorry. I just finished helping our resident scenic designer come up with a viable plan for doing this exact thing. My final idea was this. Start with a Genie Super tower. Construct a small deck on the arms. Build a flat that is behind the "basket" but has a slot running down the center of it and for giggles paint it like the sky. Now for the wagon. you can either build a wagon around the super tower or place the super tower on top of the wagon. Let's say the basket is three feet high. the slot in the flat is going to be about three feet . The Wiz climbs in does his thing, then behind the flat a Stage hand starts cranking. As the tower lifts the basket, another hand pulls the wagon off stage. Viola' floating basket disappearing from the stage. I have a really quick sketch up I did of this at home. I'll try to post it this evening.
     
  10. Rockey

    Rockey Member

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    Thank you everyone for your help. These are some fanatastic ideas! :grin:
     
  11. jungle16jim

    jungle16jim Member

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    I did a production of The Wiz that had some of the same obstacles. For the balloon, I designed something that looked more like a souped up phone booth attached to a balloon. The idea was that this was a balloon with a flying room. It rested on a platform about 4 ft off the ground with attached stairs. He went up, in--and then down into the trap on top before it flew off. We used the same platform for the throne flush for the witch and for Oz's entrance, which was kind of like a spaceship with a circular mylar curtain through which he entered.
     
  12. chausman

    chausman Chase Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    W did did WoZ, the basket was a basket, that had no bottom and sat on top of a platform that was about 3' tall. When he got into the basket (after saying most of his lines) he would "gracefully" fall to the stage floor and then the ballon would fly up and be pulled offstage.
     
  13. VCTMike

    VCTMike Active Member

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    Location:
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    We built a lightweight basket that the actor "carried" as he was flown by Zfx. The corners of the basket had 6' sections of rope that wre anchored to the basket and just projected upwards to simulate attaching to the balloon. It looked very realistic as the basket started on a small platform so the top of the ropes were basically at the lower level of the borders. The motion was a little up and down sloping up as the actor traversed from SL to SR.
     

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