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Trapdoor

Discussion in 'New Member Board' started by lg13777, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. lg13777

    lg13777 Member

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    I am looking for ways to raise/descend an actor through a trapdoor in a stage.
    Any comments or tips are greatly appreciated
     
  2. JOHNEEE

    JOHNEEE Member

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    Genie make a lift common at rental places --we lifted Jesus in a co2 fog 20 feet into the sky on a cloud (cool)
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    This can be a very dangerous thing to do. Its more then just raising the person, its everything else that has to go around it. First,t cutting a hole in your stage can lead to huge problems. Most spaces that have a trap room require a stucture to be built around the trap to keep the stage from collapse. Also, you must deal with the plug that will be in the stage when the trap is not in use. Usually the deck that moves also acts as the plug.

    Heres the thing.... this takes a lot of engineering to pull off. You are lifting a person. This to me falls under the same guides of flying people. If you don't have the engineering training to do this you should not be. Lifting a person 6'-15' take a lot of force. Along with that, there are a host of safety factors that must be in place. Emergency stops, brakes, mechanical failsafes, etc.

    Even broadway can not do it right everytime.....
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    What [user]Footer[/user] said!

    While a Genie (or other personnel lift) can be a safe machine to operate, they are not designed to be used in performances. Operating a lift as part of a performance probably falls outside of what the manufacturers consider proper usage. That being said, if anything should go wrong you don't even want to start in on the liability issues.

    If you don't know how to engineer an effect like this then you should be calling a professional and not attempting to do this on your own (or with help from the intertubes). Subbing in a device like a Genie Lift is really no better than creating a lifting device that you are not qualified to create.

    Other than that, Welcome to CB! We don't mean to come down on you hard, but we strive for safety. Telling you how to create an effect like this essentially falls into some of our taboo topics like rigging and flying. We are in no way saying that you should not do the effect, merely that you need to get in touch with a local professional who can engineer the effect and train you in safe operation. It protects you and us from liability and ensures the safety of your cast and crew.
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Did not even think of that... Tell me this was a standard vertical man lift and not a crank lift.
     
  6. 1kfresnel

    1kfresnel Member

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    As someone who is currently using a similar effect, I can't stress enough the need to consult a professional. I would not utilize any off-the-shelf-hardware, Genie or otherwise, without the proper engineering review.

    Even though my effect only requires ~5 feet of travel, there are significant safety considerations that come into play in both the construction and operation of the unit. This is the second production we are using this for, and even then it has been reengineered for additional safety and ease of operation.

    The effect is totally feasible...with the right resources. Do your research, find the right professional to help, keep safety as your foremost thought, and you will be rewarded with the effect you desire in your production.

    Welcome to CB! I hope you find the wealth of knowledge here as useful as I do.
     
  7. theatre4jc

    theatre4jc Active Member

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    I built 2 on stage lifts while in college. The first was used one time in the production of Lysitrada 2411AD. Hated the show but the set (not my design) looked freaking sweet. We built the lift into a massive city hall staircase. So the part that raised at the very top of the show was three of the steps. We used a home made hydraulic lift that we ended up selling to a production company that was owned by the father of one of our students. Worked great. But we had an engineer sign off on the project.

    The second lift was completely designed and installed by me. I was the TD on the show and it was a senior project. For the standards of this website it would fail completely. Our faculty TD allowed it after his approval and serious testing. For pictures and videos of the workings of it check out my website (in my sig) and go to the Rocky Horror section and the stage videos page. I will not mention how to build it because of the liability of it, but will say that it is possible to do this without being an engineer. I would not recommend it, or do it again on my own, but it is possible. I learned a lot from this. Same show I flew an actor on a normal fly rig, which I'll also never do again.

    Did it all without incident and was always the test subject for my work, but I'll repeat I will never do this again on my own. If it was not my senior project and I had full trust in the knowledge of my faculty TD I would not have done this in the first place. It was VERY dangerous and we all knew the risk and were lucky. If I ever work a show that wants to do this I will always call in a specialist.
     
  8. 1kfresnel

    1kfresnel Member

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    David - thanks for sharing your story. I had to cringe at seeing the milk crate full of counterweight. Oy.
     
  9. theatre4jc

    theatre4jc Active Member

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    That was do to having to do a redesign and not having time to weld a new steel cage. I was VERY nervous about that and inspected it before every show to make sure it was safe. I'll repeat NEVER again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2009

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