Tinkerbell as micro-drone?

WFair

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Houston, Texas, United States
I want to try something other than the traditional green laser for Tink. Has anyone tried using a small drone as Tinkerbell? It seems to me that there are a couple options:
1. Micro or nano drone quadracopter...typically has one or more lights on it already. Could maybe work as-is?
2. Larger (but still small) quadrocopter capable of carrying a small "payload"...Mask out the lights on the drone and suspend a small battery powered light about 10' below the drone with fishing line...the payload is Tinkerbell and if flown carefully the actual drone might not be noticed.

Anyone tried anything like this? Did it work? Any other creative alternatives to the laser option?
 

Les

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I don't know enough about drones or quadcopters to make an informed guess – the only things I can speak to are safety. You'd need a very reliable operator, and I would heavily caution against flying it over the audience (as tempting or impressive as it may be). It would preferably be blocked in such a way that it is never over anyone's heads.

Only other things I can think of are perhaps interference-related (given or received), and maybe with the physical propeller noise which would need to be masked. Clearly I have only a cursory knowledge of these - though they are pretty cool, and I think the idea could theoretically work and look very nice if done well.
 

EdSavoie

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The cheap microdrones would work well for this.

Using a larger drone might be too loud, as well as the risk of fouling the blades up in the curtains and bars would be quite high.

Just make sure you have enough spare batteries and that Tink isn't onstage for more than then 2/3 the battery life
 

Dionysus

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EdSavoie

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A permit is not required for units under 1kg meeting certain requirements, the only thing needed is a form declaring to transport Canada that you meet said requirements.

The exemption means you don't have to maintain the minimum distances from crowds, so you could in effect fly over the main house.

Of course, the OP lives in Texas, so it's not exactly applicable...
 

GreyWyvern

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I've seen it done with a 16" clear globe sliding along a trick line with shiny Mylar and mini strobes inside. It was cheap, easy to trigger (snap shackle), and not likely to loose control and get bound in a curtain.
I hated that thing! I would test it several times right before doors. It would work perfectly every time, then during the show, it would either light, but not release or release, but not light. It eventually got nixed.
 

porkchop

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I hated that thing! I would test it several times right before doors. It would work perfectly every time, then during the show, it would either light, but not release or release, but not light. It eventually got nixed.
Should have used a garage door opener like we did. 18 years running it still works.... most of the time.
 

StradivariusBone

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Should have used a garage door opener like we did. 18 years running it still works.... most of the time.


On a side note- I don't even think those Intel quadcopters fly over crowds. At Disney they did it at Disney Springs and over the lake and for the Superbowl it was pre-recorded and presumably in an empty and unoccupied parking lot. If that company (who is arguably at the fore-front of automated quadcopter usage in theatrical applications) won't fly it over people I wouldn't be happy being in a theatre where one was whizzing over my head.
 

gafftaper

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Having flown my little quad around my theater at the end of the day many times, I can tell you it's a wonderfully fun way to relax. I have to say this is a terrible idea. As a T.D. more than anything it's my job to be paranoid about safety. If there's something that can go wrong, there is a VERY good chance it will go wrong during a show. When it comes to audience, actor, and crew safety, our job is to make choices that minimize danger first and choices that look cool second. So what is the safe choice?

So here is my thought process: First of all flying anywhere near the audience is an absolute no. So if there isn't a way to block it well upstage of the audience, the answer is no. You can get hit by a micro drone at full speed and there is very little risk of injury. Anything bigger and the blades get too big and it's just to much of a risk of any injury for my taste. So that would be the only option I would consider. But then we run into a big problem, micro drones are not nearly as stable, accurate to fly or reliable as larger ones. Just getting a micro drone to hover in one place can be difficult to master. So that's where I would decide to not use the micro. Even if there was no way of getting hurt and you kept it away from anyone that could be hit, you can't trust it to fly reliably. So what is your show going to look like if right as the audience is clapping to bring Tink back to life your quad crashes? The big moment of the show ruined by a unreliable micro crashing.

Finally, there's one more reason to not use it but it's artistic and not safety. Tink is magical. The sound of a quad can't just be masked and it ruins the artistic magic of tink. I would much rather do something much more primitive be it a laser pointer, a gobo rotator, or a cute little kid in a tutu, than ruin the moment with the whine of a microquad.
 

Leo Mauler

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Finally, there's one more reason to not use it but it's artistic and not safety. Tink is magical. The sound of a quad can't just be masked and it ruins the artistic magic of tink. I would much rather do something much more primitive be it a laser pointer, a gobo rotator, or a cute little kid in a tutu, than ruin the moment with the whine of a microquad.
I second this. Even the smallest drones produce an audible buzzing sound which can be heard from thirty feet away in the dark. The sound masking needed for a drone will quickly get more complicated than a laser pointer or a gobo rotator, or even a robo spot, and the yelling of the director is a sound no tech director/operator wants to hear.
 

What Rigger?

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Your Flying Director is probably not going to dig it. The last thing I want is something bouncing off one of my fly wires. You'll want to discuss this with your Flying Director far ahead of time, and you'll have to defer to his/her judgement.
 

Chris Stolz

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Nov 19, 2017
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Toronto
I'd think it would just be too big and you would see a physical item rather than just a light, which a think it the charm of the illusion.

I like the projector + sparkle mouse cursor solution myself. Install a glittery cursor, crank on the projector and simply move the mouse to fly her around the room anywhere you like.

You can get free, animated mouse cursors all over the internet. Costs nothing, it's safe and it just works!
 

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