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Tracked Scenery

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by SWest, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. SWest

    SWest Member

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    I am the TD for my high school's drama department and have been investigating stage automation for some of our shows this year. Particularly, I've been trying to work out how tracked scenic units work. Can someone explain how such systems basically operate? Our school doesn't have a large budget for its shows (what high school does!), but I'm just curious if there would be any way to get our scenery to move without stagehands moving it! Thanks!
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    There are a few ways of doing it. The easiest thing to do (and thats a relative term) is to have a "knife" that goes into the deck that is connected to the piece. Usually you do two knifes on one piece. Connected in to the knife is a cable. The cable runs under the deck through a series of pulleys that then connect to a winch. When the cable is pulled, the piece moves.

    Now... in order to get this all to work, you have to have a winch and a raised deck to run the cables through.

    The other way to do it is to put the drive on the piece itself. Some then still have a knife that goes into the deck to keep the piece going straight. This is method is found on most touring shows because it makes load in happen faster. However, it costs a lot more to do and requires cables to follow the piece, unless it is battery powered.

    All in all, this is not a cheap thing to do. Building a false deck across and entire stage can cost 6k or more. Adding to that, a winch system can cost 5-10k to build.

    Creative Connors and Hudson scenic both offer winch systems for rental, if you want to take a look at what they have.

    Creative Conners, Inc.
     
  3. SWest

    SWest Member

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    Thanks for the explanation! I figured that building a "real" system would be terrifically expensive, but maybe I can figure out a way to incorporate some components of a tracked system into our shows. Thanks again! :)
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    If you motorize it, you really can not do it on the cheap. There are too many variables, and it just one thing is off someone can get hurt. Deadman switches, hard limits, and e-stops have to be taken into account. Run away battens suck, but run away scenery can be much worse.

    Now, it is possible to use tracks without using winches, so at least your scenery runs without having to be steered. Also, you might to look into putting T bars on your scenery so it can be pushed out and pulled back from the wings. It works best with small pieces on like park benches etc.
     

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