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Scrim... any ideas?

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by rapscaLLion, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    The problem: How to fly in a scrim that goes from wing to wing
    (and stage to lighting grid) with no fly gallery...

    A little background for you:
    Our auditorium is old and ugly but functional, our stage is really large compared to most schools (even art schools in our area have much smaller stages), but we have nothing that even resembles a fly gallery. Which is pretty standard around here. Now we have this scrim that is larger than the proscenium arch, so fine for obscurring everything behind it, the problem is we want it to move up and down. If it was static we could just attach it to the sorry excuse for a lighting grid, but we want to raise and lower it as well, and the vertical space is there, we just have no fly gallery. So the next best thing would be to hang it of a roller that would roll it up and down either manually or automatically. The problem gets worse in that the solutions has to cost little to nothing lol. Any ideas for acquiring/building a low-cost device that would raise and lower our scrim?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  2. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    I apologize for breaking the frames with the large pics... fixed it now.
     
  3. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    So.....your saying you want the drop to be a "Roll Drop"..or in Theatrical Terms: an Oleo Drop. A Traveller or Track-Curtain set up for this would not work better for you? Those go from side to side or split in the center and travel off to the wings. They work VERY well for curtains, but for a scrim--interesting idea as you would need to put lead tape or chain in the pocket.
    With no fly system--or space above, I think a track system would work better for you as a traveller track would take up about 6-8 inches and be easy to suspend. But the Clue, Pulleys and rope guides to make an Oleo drop work would need at least 18"-24" of overhead clearance and need to run to an offstage wing wall--and hope your person pulling it is STRONG. If you wanted it to be mechanical and work at the press of a button--your space needs increase a bit in the wings.

    -wolf
     
  4. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    I don't think a traveller will give the right effect, the scrim has to be flat and taut... not a problem vertically if we put a chain in the pocket but horizontally I think it'll get wavy.
    We have lots of vertical space, just no access to it lol, no existing ladders or catwalks at all. So no way to suspend something directly from the ceiling but I was hoping to get something lightweight enough to hang of the light bar...
    I know I'm getting kinda far out on this one given the circumstances...
     
  5. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Im not clear on what your goal is, is it to make the scrim up and close or go up and down?
     
  6. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    The scrim should appear from the audience point of view to travel upwards and out of site. I think the only way to do this in this auditorium is to roll it up, like the suggested oleo drop. There certainly is vertical space to lift the whole thing up, just no equipment for it.
     
  7. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    hehe...well not having the gear and stuff is a constant pain in Theater. The Oleo way will be your best bet. They are not difficult to make yourself if you are adventurous...you kinda just need the pulleys, ropes, clue (a mechanical plate which pulls several lines at once), and some way to rig it up there. :D

    -wolf
     
  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    My interpretation of a Oleo is far different it seems than most of yours. To me it’s a center stage black or otherwise colored drape that is flown. That’s about it. A traveler is a traveler, a roll drop is a roll drop. The traveler scrim while interesting would require a lot of wing space for a plus or minus 40 foot scrim and pulling it would by hand would be hard on it. You would have to rig the traveler which is even more expensive yet and a lot of length to be drawing in one direction. Especially after you get rid of the idea of more economical T-track rails because they don’t work very well in the first place. I’m also a big fan of tight scrims thus pipe at the bottom if not even stage screwing the pipe to the deck or wire guiding the scrim and installing locks on the wire guide to hold the bottom pipe - especially when it had to be paged up stage.

    I would also avoid doing a roll drop. Not only is it next to impossible to do a 40 some odd foot roll drop, much less on a shoe string budget, any wrinkles in the scrim would not lay flat when it hangs, they would become creases during the show. Worse yet, any foreign objects that got on the drape would have the possibility of tearing and snagging the drape once unrolled. This would be very bad short of getting out the ladder and saving the drape given it’s known. Just takes one small splinter of wood and you could have a large snag in the scrim.

    I assume that your lighting grid is not at ceiling height, instead it’s hung well below it or your Lekos and drapes over the stage would be about useless. That or you really don’t have the fly space available.

    There is a third option not considered and that’s doing a West Coast spot line off the lighting grid. Assuming the grid is stable enough to handle dynamic loads and moving scenery, it’s just a question of tying off to the grid with say some repelling loops and attaching some shivs and idler pulleys or eyelets to keep the rope organized and neat. This than could terminate into a pear ring or clue block as Wolf mentions, be it a wire guided clue for better control, or free floating. At the pear ring or better yet clue block you attach your hand line and any weights you might be using were they necessary. However with this system, as opposed to flying the scrim up to the ceiling, you would be lowering in the pipe during a blackout and cast and crew would run in with tie line to tie the drape up to it’s batten. Than it gets flown back up to the grid and hopefully out of sight. Given the scrim was sized to hang from the grid, it might be necessary to cheseborough some short lengths of pipe above the grid to attach to and have room for the pulleys to hang plus room for knots. At that point forged eye bolts and quick links or carabineers could be used to directly attach to the pipe lengths. Such a system could work ok given a blackout, and be safe enough for the TD to engineer. It also would not require any special ladders or lift equipment to install or move about. It might be necessary to do a 3:1 mechanical advantage with it so you have enough room to work the rope much less add any sand bags necessary which won’t hit the floor and be out of balance after they hit.

    It’s possible given your ceiling height, your theater was designed to hang and fly stuff, it just does not have the gallery much less grid or fly rail. What is holding up your grid? Is it supported by walls or the ceiling or both? There any sizable I-Beams up there much less truss to hang from? This type of rigging however will require a actual trained rigger if not rigging company to at least initially install and given no access to it, maintain for you. Lots of ways you can do this on the other hand. Just very difficult to maintain much less move about.

    First and optimum would be to install some mini chain or wire rope hoists in the ceiling. One per lineset supporting the pipe. For a scrim, I might go with three as long as I had actual batten pipe and not sch. 40 black water pipe that’s both heavier and less strong for long spans. Otherwise I would go with a minimum of four pickup points. However if paying to install hoists, I would do six of them. A 300# wire rope winch rated for stage usage would be fairly inexpensive and dependable. Bolt them to the ceiling and wire up a pendant switch by the stage manager. This would not be that expensive to do.

    After that you could go with pulleyes and do a horizontal wire guided clue system attached to a ceiling mounted chain hoist or winch. This would require a bit more parts and space for the clue to travel however. Possible it can be taken out of alignment from the pipe however. Nobody ever said that if you are doing a spot line it has to be rigged directly in line with the batten. Say all the way down stage you have hoist and wire guided clue block travel space, than mule pulleyes running off to their various locations diagonally across the stage ceiling. In this way you could locate the hoist in an area that is accessible by ladder to it for service and repair. In a school you now have a safe system installed and one that’s easy to maintain and even add to without needing a fly deck or walk able grid. Just install more horizontal clue blocks and hoists in the service area and perhaps eventually a cat walk to service the clue rail.

    After that, you can do a single floor mounted winch spot block system attached to a small wire or T-Track grid that does not require a hand line’s head and foot block assembly thus can be installed about anywhere given a swivel head block clamping to some steel. Since it’s all wire rope, and simple for the most part, the costs will not be huge but most hoists are fairly slow in operation. Otherwise a bit cheaper might be a more normal single purchase fly system with counter weight carriage to supplement the hoist if not let it be run independent of the hoist at a faster speed once counter balanced. Such a counter balanced fly system given it’s wire guided will run about $1,000 in parts and hopefully the same in labor for a single lineset. It being supplemented with the hoist would mean you can probably get away without a loading deck proper. Unfortunately, for distances over 30' a wire guided system for the carriage does not work too well. Too much flex in the wire guides which has the potential for crashing weights to the floor. Instead I would go sand bags with a wire guide system if it’s not a part of a large fly rail system. In any case it might be possible to install a lock rail/foot block anywhere in line with the pipe including all by itself in the wing and not near a wall with a wire guide system. It would be better near the wall however so there is less bumping into it possibly causing damage. Otherwise if you have a wall a T-Track system while probably three times as expensive will be very safe for use with steel counterweights thus can be rigged for a larger load. On either counter weight/hand line system, you are very limited due to the head block to keeping it in line with the pipe short of doing mule blocks which will change direction but also add a lot of friction to the system.

    Any of the above would be an investment for the school and probably the only option since you can’t exactly get up to the ceiling to install a spot block pin-rail system. That’s a shame but I expect you have what 30 plus feet to the ceiling and a big grid in the way of a man-lift getting there. Unfortunately much of your goods probably will not fly out of sight unless the place really was designed to have a fly system. Lots of theaters have some height above the stage but it’s not sufficient an amount of space for fly goods. Might be high but depending upon your trim height most goods will hang down a bit forcing you to adjust trim heights lower especially after you account for underhung blocks and trim chains. Tripping your scrim up to clear this lower height given you can’t get at the ceiling probably won’t be an option either.

    Doing spot lines would be really easy if you could get to the ceiling to hang them and had something to hang from. You could install your pin-rail anywhere on stage by use of the above horizontal clue block system or just using swivel wire rope or rope pulleys depending upon the type lines used, weight and budget. The longer the span and the greater the load, the more stretch rope will have so while cheap in parts rope stretch and wear on a pipe will be a constant thing. On the other hand, it’s usually cheaper and easier to install such a thing when light enough. Given the wires run to a grouping of independent swivel head blocks they can be installed anywhere on the stage you have a place to tie off to. Simple as running the lines to head block assembly than attaching to a pear ring or clue block that’s either wire guided or free floating. Than either attaching sand bags to the clue block and a pull rope, or fitting it up for mechanical advantage such as 3:1 and having to pull more rope but having more force behind your pulling. This has gravity and a more of a direct line of pulling the pipe than the horizontal clue system which is going to have more friction the steeper the angle the head mule block is at. Doing the vertical clue will also provide a solid place to attach the sand bag, otherwise you would need to attach the sand bag to a Sunday or rope grip for the sand bag. It’s possible to drop all lines to the floor and not have a single hand line if space is tight and even sand bag them with a multi hole rope grip, but much harder to control them equally.

    In doing a mechanical advantage system, you would need to add some structure to hold a rigging type ascender to the pin rail lock tie off rope clue or pin holder, otherwise since your load is still out of balance, should you loose your grip it will fall even if you have mechanical advantage working for you. Short of having the ascender bolted to a structure, it would not be easy to use in this situation. With rope it could all be repelling equipment under certain conditions, thus inexpensive but actual rigging equipment and wire rope would be better designed for the purpose. Just need to bolt the pin rail to the floor or wall in addition to hanging the blocks hopefully off some I-Beams.


    Again contact a rigging company or free lance rigger that is bonded and insured should you attach anything to the ceiling at least initially for the eyes on site option.

    Stage Rigging Handbook by Glerum will give you an idea of how to work much of this but not how to attach it. Hire a rigger to show how my final advice.
     
  9. Will

    Will Member

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    Another option is to do a Venetian type drop. I had to make one last year for 42nd Street. Basically the scrim would be lifted in maybe a dozen places, evenly spaced across its width. Rings have to be sewn into the scrim at each of these points and running at intervals from the top to the bottom, spaced a foot or two apart. So a 40' wide by 16' high scrim might have 12 rows of 12 rings or 144 in total.

    Then black trip line is run through the rings and tied to the bottom. Each of the 12 cords has to be taken through a pulley and they are gathered into one to pull up the scrim. The rings stack up as the line is pulled and the scrim rises in sections, with a nice swag between each. Its a very elegant look.

    Very labor intensive, but cheaper than a roll drop with a more traditional feel.
     
  10. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    The imagination aspect of theatre has entered
    the building. This is not sarcasm. I can tell it would work, I just don't see it.
     
  11. Will

    Will Member

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    Yes, Radman, is that a compliment or sarcasm, not quite sure? :lol:
     
  12. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    Well thanks a ton guys, Will's idea is probably the most do-able for our auditorium. I'll tell ya how it turns out if we do it, but at this point I don't know if it's worth it.

    Thanks again!
     
  13. dust4sound

    dust4sound Member

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    We (lester and I) use a traveling scrim just fine from one end and it only uses a taut wire across the stage and 1 ft. of the wing space. His dad strung the wire across and it works fine.
     
  14. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    Really? And you can see through it fine when lit from the back? I mean, wouldn't the ripples be distracting or have you managed to get it fairly smooth?
     
  15. dust4sound

    dust4sound Member

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    Yep. Just fine, we laid it out over the auditorium chairs to get most of the wringles out and then we hung it. The ends have 2 boards screwed to each other, and we have a rope/wire leading to the top to pull with.
     
  16. nate

    nate Member

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    At our school, we have a scrim that drops from the ceiling (i believe that is referred to as a roll drop). It accomplishes the effect you seem to want. The problem would be the rigging. What we have is PVC in the pocket and the other end of the skrim is tied to a bar (like a light bar) that hangs from the ceiling. We hung rigging so that one end of a piece of rope is tied to an eye-hook that is on the down-stage side of the skrim and screwed into the ceiling. The rope then loops under the PVC and goes back to the ceiling on the up-stage side of the skrim, where it goes through a rotating pulley on a hook that is screwed into the ceiling. From there, the rope goes along the ceiling to the wing, where it goes through another pulley (this one is stationary) and then to the floor. On the floor we took a 2"x4" about six inches long and screwed it into the floor (hugging the legging). On the top of this 2"x4" is two smaller 2"x4"s on either end. The three 2"x4"s together make a perfect tie-down for while the skim is up. When the skrim comes down, the crew member in charge of it unwinds the ropes and lowers it. Once completely unrolled, two crew members, one in either wing (the one who unrolled it and someone who isn't busy in the other wing), roll the PVC untill the skrim is taut and can be opague or not.

    I hope this helps. It may not be the answer you're looking for, but its what we use and it works.

    -Nate
     
  17. Ttoolman80

    Ttoolman80 Member

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    I am also in a similar scenario

    I am also interested in hanging a scrim. My facility does not have a fly system or grid system. I will likely be purchasing some truss work support. Currently I am using schedule 40 black pipe to hang my lighting fixtures from.

    In these links below you will find a two renderings and photo of my facility.
    Cad Renderings: http://www.mjtstages.com/Images/SeeOurTheatreImages/FOH.jpg
    http://www.mjtstages.com/Images/SeeOurTheatreImages/SideProfile.jpg
    Photo: http://www.mjtstages.com/Images/SeeOurTheatreImages/TheatreFrmBlk.JPG

    The opening to the proscenium is 30 feet wide by 14 feet high, with approximately 8 feet of available space to fly something excluding any masking. Our scrim is a black shark tooth scrim which is 32 feet wide by 18 feet high. We are very interested in having a vertical drop vs. horizontal. I was considering an Oleo (Roll Drop) however as we are using a scrim I had a few concerns.

    1. What type of pipe should I use to span over the 32 feet that wont sag in the middle?
    - Will PVC be strong enough, or should I use some aluminum pipe, perhaps farming irrigation pipe.

    2. Being that a scrim is transparent when backlit, I worry about any support methods running through or over the back of the scrim which may be visually displeasing to the audience.

    3. The pipe itself in the Oleo will sit on the stage floor blocking 6 inches visually as well, what might be a better work around for this?

    Finally it would be great if I could reverse the drop and put the roller at the top very similar to a standard movie screen automated or manual. If anyone has any suggestions for a safe and cost effective solution to my problem I'd love to hear your suggestions.
     

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