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Stage Cannon

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by jamesarnold140, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. jamesarnold140

    jamesarnold140 Member

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    Well,I might as well try my first post. the "Nutcracker" is over and stored away again. This has been my 12th one. This year's last minute project was a cannon for the Toy Soldiers to aim at the Rats. I built it from good old 12" Sonotube and some 36" plywood wheels from a previously built wagon. Pull handles were cheap irrigation pop-up sprinkler heads. A little paint and stain and it looked great. I got as far as loading in a small CO2 fire extinguisher to blow out a little smoke,only to find out that they don't work too well laying down.That part I can correct by next year by remounting. The problem I encountered though was the rather obnoxious loud "whooshing" noise when it was triggered. Has anyone tried something like this before? The Fire-Extinguisher guys said they rent them all the time to shows travelling to town for cheap,quick fog effects. Hopefully there's a way to dampen the noise since we can't use any pyro effects and I haven't seen any portable or battery powered foggers. Any ideas? Thanks
     
  2. 2mojo2

    2mojo2 Active Member

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    You can try "Smoke In A Can". It's portable, inexpensive, and likely to be quieter.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Want battery powered fog? Check out the Power-Tiny by Look Solutions. While using fire extinguishers is a quick solution, I can't imagine that it is practical, safe, or cost effective.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I've never heard of any way around the whooshing sound of a fire extinguisher. Canned smoke is pretty lame and won't come out with enough oomph to do it right.

    Your local magic shop has the best looking solution. However, that's all I'm going to say because the topic is Verboten on CB. There are also added complications with fire retarding your cannon and other set pieces, the fire marshal, smoke detectors, proper training, proper storage, and permits to deal with if you go that route. But none of them are that big of a deal and the effect itself is very cheap. Call your nearest Magic shop to get advice.
     
  5. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    This might not help because in our version of the Nutcracker, the Battle scene is generally played for laughs.

    I made a small (hand-held size) cannon that simulates “firing” with silver ribbons and a rubber band. The rubber band and ribbon are all permanently attached to the inside of the end of the barrel. The rubber band is stretch back to a tab at the breech end. The soldier flips the rubber band off the tab and the ribbons shoot out of the end of the cannon.

    The one version of a cannon that I never had time to try to make was a full size cannon that when fired, would release a flag with “bang” written on it.

    Joe
     
  6. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    here we go. You know those airzookas? ThinkGeek :: Airzooka Air Gun

    get one of them, break off the handle and slide it into the barrel of your cannon, you can figure out some way to access it from the breech end and put some power in muzzle of the cannon. then you spring the airzooka, the power spews out of the front of the cannon. there is some sound with the toy (like a phwum) but that can be masked by the music. as for the powder, even baby power can do the trick, or something else thats easier to sweep up
     
  7. Brendo

    Brendo Member

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    I never thought my first post would be about this, but life's full of surprises.

    I just got off of a touring show of the Nutcracker. Our cannon was sonotube, plywood base, plywood faux wheels, with small casters below. There was a platform at the back of the cannon/bottom of the tube. We had a Martin Magnum 650 fog machine that sat on the platform and at the appropriate time, the ASM got a cue to bump the fogger.
    With just a simple bump on the remote and a cannon shot audio cue, it looks really good. Such a small amount of fog will dissipate very fast and won't affect lx at all.

    There was a cable loom coming off the back end of the cannon (A/C and control) but the cannon was never pushed on stage more than a foot past the SR legs. There was always an ASM there to coil cable and put the cannon away after the scene.
     
  8. dsm

    dsm Member

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    May I ask how come?
    I get that telling people how to rig pyrotechnics or the like is a bad idea, but product details? Unless it violates the magical secrecy thing, but that wouldn't really make it a forbidden topic really.
     
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    The discussion of pyrotechnics is a banned topic on CB because of the huge potential danger and liability issues for this website. True, I could have gone quite a bit further listing ideas and specific product names to ask a magic expert about, without violating CB's TOS. However, I felt that wasn't necessary and all it would do is add risk to the post. If the original poster wants to go that route they can contact a magic shop, explain what they are trying to do and any magic shop will give them the same Ideas as I have. They will get the products they need and information on how to do it safely. The less details I give out here, the less potential there is for some 12 year old thinking it sounds cool, ordering the stuff on-line without any training or supervision, and then proceeding to blow up their cat or little sister.

    When it comes to Pyro, Rigging, and Electrical the less tempting sound information you give out the safer everyone is.
     
  10. dsm

    dsm Member

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    Fair enough.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    One last note. With as lawsuit happy as everybody in this country is, if some 12 year old did do something stupid. The mention of the wrong word here might be enough to trigger a lawsuit that would take down CB... and none of us want that to happen. So yet another reason to be cautious.
     
  12. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I was doing a show where we needed to have a puff of smoke when the lid to a BBQ grill was opened but the AHJ wouldn't allow pyro. The tiny fogger wasn't released at that time so we just put a can of smoke in the grill, made it deployable by the actor from the outside of the grill, and had them do a considerable stream prior to opening the lid. It was quite effective. Something similar could be done with the cannon. If you combined it with that AirZooka, you could easily build up a one shot thing.

    Just my $.02
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Very clever idea. The can of smoke looks pretty good but it doesn't project out from the can in a way that is at all convincing for a canon. However, combined with something like an AirZooka and you might have something safe and affordable.
     
  14. hwlights

    hwlights Member

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    What if you rigged the cannon to shoot silver confetti? I imagine that it would have a nice shimmer and contribute to the magical atmosphere without looking cartoonish. I know the discussion has been about smoke, but if that does't work out just thought that I would toss another idea in.
     
  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    That could be done relatively easily with some compressed air. For that matter we have missed compressed air and flour for a nice puff of smoke that isn't smoke at all. This is the point [user]Van[/user] always jumps in and reminds you to use a specific type of flour because it's the only safe kind to use. CRAP! I can't remember which type he says to use. Rye flour?

    He'll be along during his lunch break tomorrow to correct me.
     
  16. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I won't say yes to the type of flour as I don't know of what safety you are speaking. Please be aware that airborn flour is highly flamable and can be explosive. While it will only smolder when sitting in a pile, there are many, many examples of very large explosions at flour mills and silos throughout history. Also, some pyro technicians will use it as part of their flame packages (I think Disney was even using it for the dragon in one of their live shows at one of the theme parks). Needless to say, this could end up resulting in a slightly more realistic cannon than you are prepared for and I personally would recommend against it.

    As for other powdered substances like talc/baby powder, chalk dust, or whatever, you need to be aware of how that can affect your lungs. A lot of study has gone into the effects of fog fluid and its harmlessness to actors, but other airborne substances can be quite carcinogenic. I know that in our community there has been a lot of discussion on this matter recently, but I don't know of a good substitute at this time. I hope to learn something soon.

    As for glitter, many call this the herpes of the stage. Once you get it, it's almost impossible to get rid of.
     
  17. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Ok, I wasn't feeling as lazy tonight so I did a search for one of Van's posts on this topic. Here's one. Rye Flour is the one he recommends. He says Equity doesn't like any dust in the air but if you must... Rye Flour is the least obnoxious.

    If you are doing glitter use the big stuff that's like 1/4" across. It can actually be cleaned up and you can't see the little stuff well from the audience anyway.

    100% agreement with Ruinexplorer about the flammable nature of dust. Be VERY careful with anything like this.
     
  18. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    One solution is since the cannon is on wheels (If you don't care about weight) is to use a remote controlled fogger or DMX fogger (you can buy wireless DMX packs REALLY cheap now) and stick a 12v car battery inside with a power inverter to power the assembly. Then you can use as big of a fogger as you can get your hands on.
    Used that for a BBQ once, and also with a smaller fogger and battery for a old-fashioned vacuum.

    I've also seen a cannon with a compressed gas tank (filled with the carp-shop's compressor) and shot powder (I believe it was talcum, but I can't remember). This is REALLY cheap, all you need is a valve on the end of the tank, and mount it on the inside. This does make noise, depending on the size of the valve and the use of additional hardware.
    Moist air would make a cloud too now that I think of it.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    NEVER USE TALCUM POWDER. It's terrible on your lungs. There's a reason you can't buy Talcum powder for babies anymore it's all corn starch based.

    If you must use some sort of dust use Rye Flower!
     
  20. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    We are doing Pirates of Penzance and as was done in the 80s revival, there's a little model ship in some wooden painted waves in the beginning and the ship needs to fire a cannon. We are planning on making the cannon one of these: ThinkGeek :: Zero Fog Blaster from ThinkGeek. Also, for the larger cannons for Nutcracker, YouTube - How to Make a Vortex Cannon is a possibility.
     

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