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Revolving Stage -- HELP ME!!!

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by bobgaggle, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    For my school's production of Jekyll and Hyde, we are employing the use of a revolving platform for several of the scenes. The idea is to have the turntable at a 10' diameter with a frame to cover the visible rotation from the side. Essentially its a circle inside a square.

    The catch is that the entire apparatus needs to be moved (rolled, shoved, pulled, dragged?) on and off stage for various scenes. As for the actual rotation, it would have to be manually turned (pull line around the circumference? just grabbing the circle and shoving?) Any advice can help. thanks

    Bob
     
  2. Drmafreek

    Drmafreek Active Member

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    The first thing I thought of is a platform within a platform. The overall platform (the rectangle)would enter and exit stage and lock in position somewhere on stage. The inner platform (the circle) would then spin. Now, a couple of questions before I go any further. Does the platform just come on stage from one position and then exit to the same position? What is the height of the overall unit? Will this be wood or steel construction? How big is the budget. Let me know and then I can taylor my answer to what you want to do. I may be able to throw together a quick drawing too.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    There have been several threads in the past about building revolves. So do some searching. The real problem is the moving the revolve on and off stage. Typically revolves have a bunch of fixed wheels that are all pointed in a circular direction. So When you want to move them off stage you are going in an entirely different direction than your wheels... which is a problem. My initial thought is to build a large platform on wheels with a second layer on top that contains the revolve. It's going to be heavy, big, and difficult to move on and off quickly. How much wing space do you have?

    I would think seriously about leaving the revolve on stage the whole time.
     
  4. danl

    danl Member

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    check out the revolve we built for les mis:

    http://www.revolutionfreedom.com/design/theater_lesmis.html

    ours was 22' in diameter... i've also posted a graphic of the table build...

    http://www.revolutionfreedom.com/design/images/theater-revolve-puzzle.jpg

    it was essentially a two-ply puzzle, with the top layer glued to the bottom layer... in the center was a hub (thanks to van for the design of this!) made of metal pipe (2" dia. on the floor, 1" dia on the bottom side of the turntable, with LOTS of lube)... then, as you can see, there were a million (not really - only 60-something, i believe) casters attached upside-down to spokes on the floor... when done it was heavy, but with lots of practice it was a beautiful thing...

    will yours be automated???
     
  5. sloop

    sloop Member

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    For a turntable that small, think about using steel. You can make steel "spokes" out of channel steel attached to a center pivot point and the fixed casters on the ends, possibly another set half way out. You then attach your decking directly to the steel, adding support spans where needed between the spokes.
    For the rolling platform I would once again look at steel. Make a frame the size you want, watch your span distances and put your casters where needed. Put a solid deck for the turntable to operate on and build up the platform around that where you need it. There is no sense in having more decking than needed to get the job done.

    by using steel and decking(plywood) you should be able to build the apparatus lighter, stronger, and with less vertical height.

    I built a 32' turntable in college in a similar manner. I still have the drawings somewhere..... It worked great. We had a limited budget and a limited turntable height. They didn't want to trim the stock flats. The graduate students couldn't figure it out.. I built it UNDER budget and they use if for 3 shows instead of 1. They also used what I called the flex arms for years to build wagons on.. I designed them to have dual purpose.
     
  6. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot for the input...I talked to my director about the difficulties of moving the entire thing on and off. we decided that with a few minor changes to blocking and scene change logistics, it will be possible to keep the revolve onstage for the whole show...and even to make the radius 6 feet larger. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. You all rock

    question to "danl", for your production of les mis, how was the revolve rotated? I saw a production of les mis where the techies were dressed in costume, came onto stage and merely pushed the turntable around. For our show, the director doesn't want the distraction of someone pushing it. I was thinking of running a line around the turntable, backstage, and around a much smaller turntable. the techies would spin this smaller table and therefore turn the one on stage. Naturally, gear reduction principles would make the larger table spin slower, but it would make movement much easier when there are set pieces on it.

    This link shows the concept, but mine will be on a much larger scale:

    http://www.hstech.org/howto/carpentr/plats/turntable.htm

    Another question was that of the casters -- where to buy? WLL? how many? how far apart? HOW TO KEEP THEM QUIET?!?!

    Opinions? Concerns? Know this won't work from bad experience?
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2007
  7. Drmafreek

    Drmafreek Active Member

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    Casters can be bought from several manufacturers, but I've found the ones that BMI Supply or Grainger sells to work well and are extremely quiet. As far as the caster composition, neoprene is the choice you want to go for to make them quiet. Hard rubber tends to be noisier.
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Again do some searching as there have been several threads in the last couple years on revolves. I believe there even was a discussion on how to motorize one. I think Van even posted a couple of drawings of a portable one. I also know there was a link posted to a good place to buy a center pivot point.

    I think your remote drive wheel idea may turn out to be really difficult to move. Along with that speed reduction you have an increase in torque to deal with. Not to be insulting to your program, but it seems like a device that many high school shop crews would have a hard time building correctly.

    I would look seriously at an electric motorized system. If you've got the money to build a 16' revolve you should be able to afford the few hundred for the motor.

    As for where to buy casters there are MANY places. I would advise staying away from Home Depot as you'll pay more for a lower quality product. Check out your local industrial supply stores or www.grainger.com to get you started.

    Keeping casters quiet? Buy good ones and build your revolve correctly.
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    The best way to keep the casters quiet is to use fixed casters, the bearings in swivel casters is where most of the noise is generated. If you dig up the drawing I U/L'd on here, you'll see it calls for fixed casters mounted "upside down", this is truly the best way to quiet things down.
    As for rotational motivation, a friend of mine across town, recently built a 20' diameter revolve for "Carol" his solution for rotation, route a 3/8" channel around the outside of the revolve "top", run a piece of chain all the way around that, through an idler setup, and then to a gear motor. The gear motor, chain, idler sprockets and casters are all available through www.grainger.com , another resource is www.mcmaster.com Both of these suppliers have excellent websites, and decent shipping rates.
    I don't want to disuade you from using good old elbow grease either. there is noting wrong with having a couple of humans push around a revolve. Three hands on the upstage side in blacks can move most of them right around and hardly be noticed. Sometimes indexing of the revolve can even be easier with human power rather than with motors, there are plenty of feedback systems availible for motor powered systems but they are expensive, whereas lining up two pieces of spike tape when they come into view is cheap.
    Keep posting questions, there are a lot of us here to help.
     
  10. Conner8809

    Conner8809 Member

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    I have a heck of a problem. I am master carpenter for noises off. and my director is absolutely crazy. she wants a revolving 2 story set. it has to stay on stage at all times and it has to be safe for people to be on the 2nd story. how the heck do i make it revolve? it is gonna be amazingly heavy and our running crew consists of small young freshman girls only. go figure. our budget is well lack thereof does it justice. i would like to have it revolve on its own. is it more cost effective to build a motor to revolve it?
     
  11. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    Remember that motor would probably need to be geared down (so you would need a gearbox) other wise the motor would either spin way too fast or be overworked and thermal out. When I did Les Mis we rented a 30' revolve and it came with an 8hp 240v motor/gearbox attached to a tire and wheel which turned the revolve. Even it had some trouble getting started with 40+ actors on it for the curtain call. That could have been a problem with the tire not catching traction on the edge of the revolve though. Just remember that getting a huge revolve to spin isn't as easy as getting a big motor and attaching it. There are all types of gear ratios to keep in mind for it to be safe.
     
  12. Conner8809

    Conner8809 Member

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    Yeah, we are hopefully renting our revolve from the nearby college (valencia) i am not sure if we are having a motor with it or not... regardless. what would be the best/cheapest way to make the 2nd story structurally sound?
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Uhh Welding. So let's talk about the second best way. First off minimize the amount of actual second story. Think of it as a stairway on stage, a small suspended outdoor deck instead of the hall, and several doors that lead to more stairs with landings. Then do research on construction for building decks. The information about Spans, weight loads and spacing of stringers, dimension of wood... it's all you need. BE VERY CAREFUL. DO THE MATH! NEVER GUESS. Failure of the set could be VERY dangerous.
     
  14. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    i can send you pictures of our production of fools. We had a 12x16 wall with balconies on either side that was spun around several times during the show. It was mainly 2x4, with 4x4 posts. We used maybe 8 friction reducing furniture sliders on the bottom, and it moved easily with me and another guy. But then I'm of medium build and the other guy is a beast. But with 5 or 6 small people devoted to moving it it might work.

    If you're having only the set piece move (as in, not attached to a large moving platform) i would most definitely go for sliders, rather than wheels. It keeps point of contact with the floor much better and keeps it more sturdy.

    Fools House Interior Final.jpg Fools House Exterior Final.jpg Fools House Dimensions.jpg Fools Main Door Dimensions.jpg Fools House Upstairs Doorways.jpg

    the final two pictures show dimensions for the upstairs and downstairs doors.

    Not shown are the large diagonal braces from the posts to the wall itself...it helped enormously in reducing wiggle and isolating the movement of the posts.
     
  15. Conner8809

    Conner8809 Member

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    how did you make those drawings? and our PAC is designed for band and orchestra... not theatre. we also do not have the $$ to mic everyone. we typically use hanging mics and floor mics. any suggestions on how to effectivly mic the show?
     
  16. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    They are done in google sketchup, not really the program designed to do construction drawings, but it works.

    Without doing body mics, you have your best options already. Make a post in the sound forum, they can help you a bit more there and we can keep this thread on track.
     
  17. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    A lot of your " How do I make it Stable" questions need to be answered by the Designer. Stability is directly proportional to foot print. The larger an area of the revolve < or turntable> that you can use as a base of the set, the more stable your end product is going to be. I've designed several shows with two stories, a couple of which were on turntables. While Steel framing can do wonders for stability, it's really all about right angles and sub structure. Can you give us an Idea of what the final set is to look like ? How tall? What's the diameter of the turntable and how is it constructed ? Getting it turning is not necessarily your biggest issue. If the revolve is built properly and the load evenly distributed your crew of freshmen girls should have no problem moving it.
     
  18. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    May I add: cross-bracing ? I was taught that if something was less than stable, make a triangle! Diagonal bracing is your friend.

    Anecdote: The one and only time I've ever been to a professional opera was when I went to the Lyric Opera of Chicago's M Butterfly. The set was a 50' turntable, and every so often at least 20 of these ninjas all in black would come out and pull ropes to turn it 1/8 to 1/3 of a revolution. After the show, my friend the ALD told me that the turntable WAS motorized. The ninjas were just there as part of the "concept". I was even more confused than after watching a Cirque du Soleil show.
     
  19. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I spent a show deassed as a "set ninja". We had a small turntable with no motor. It was easy enought to turn but I had to wear a Bonraku < sp?> type black lycra head piece. I could see out but no one could see in. That was the show where I learned all about the many shades of black clothing that can crop up in a technicians wardrobe after a few years in the biz.
     
  20. Nodders

    Nodders Member

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    Have you tried contacting The Revolving Stage Company? They specialise in revolves and set building.
     

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