Two-story sets

CynicWhisper

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Jan 28, 2008
So over the years, I've always been very impressed by sets with two full stories of set. I'm working on designs for Beauty and the Beast now and thinking how very, very cool it would be to have two full levels on the castle. Now, I've done elevated pieces before, but I've never done a set with a second floor more than 5 or 6 feet off the ground.

My theatre uses stock 4x8 foot platforms with fitting for metal legs on the bottom, but we can't use these legs for more than 5 feet, they get wobbly and scary, even with reinforcements.

So I'm just curious, how does your theatre pull off those amazing tall sets? Anyone have pictures of the back of one of their tall sets? Thanks to all.
 

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Usually, steel. When building tall the you have to built with cross beams in mind. The best thing to do is to get some 3x3's, secure them to the deck, cross brace it to death, then go up to your platforms. Because you are in a stock platform situation, I would suggest building headers that the platforms can lay accross.

Now, don't go out and do this if you don't have someone checking your work. Building levels does require some engineering to make sure the whole thing does not take a tumble.
 

deadlygopher

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Jan 26, 2008
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San Francisco, CA
When we did our house for The Sound of Music we did two floors. It was normal 4x8 platforms with 4x4 legs and diagonal cross-bracing with 2x4s. I'll try to dig up some pictures, but it was really sturdy. Although it was a bit of a pain to build (it was on casters) it was the prettiest set I've ever worked on.
 

CynicWhisper

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Jan 28, 2008
Yeah, I won't be building my own tall set for awhile, I just fantasize =P

As for you gopher, I would love to see those pictures, they sound amazing.
 

sloop

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Nov 12, 2007
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Indiana
Not that hard once you know what you are doing. Don't rush it..learn what materials can do. Don't be afraid to ask "how did you do that" if you are around a two story set..
 

soundman

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When we do a two story wall we build stud walls just like a real house or band and brace it till the cows come home. Stud walls work well for stress skins. For this show we used 1*4s at the top and bottom and then 2*4s on edge braced by 1*4. They were strong and sturdy.

Band and brace



Stud Wall
 

gafftaper

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I wrote this thread last year. In it I show pictures of building a platform and leg units. The basic principle can be used for an 8' platform as well. The only difference is I would use a little more luan on the legs and I would use 1x4 for all the cross bracing.

One other note, getting good straight wood is critical for tall platforms.
 
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cbhelp.jpg
Here is a basic framing, the black posts are 4x4's and the lines are 2x4's The top is framed with 2x4's with 4x4 supports in the middle if needed. Do some research and calculations if you need to, don't just built and hope!
 

icewolf08

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Lititz, PA
View attachment 992
Here is a basic framing, the black posts are 4x4's and the lines are 2x4's The top is framed with 2x4's with 4x4 supports in the middle if needed. Do some research and calculations if you need to, don't just built and hope!
I agree with your sentiments (now in red), but you should heed them too. I certainly hope that your drawing is not of an 8' x 16' platform made from four 4' x 8' platforms. Because if it is, you are not building your platforms with sufficient framing or support (assuming standard construction and 3/4" plywood lid). There are many things wrong with your picture, so as you say, do some research and calculations.
 

Charc

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Feb 14, 2007
When we do a two story wall we build stud walls just like a real house or band and brace it till the cows come home. Stud walls work well for stress skins. For this show we used 1*4s at the top and bottom and then 2*4s on edge braced by 1*4. They were strong and sturdy.
Band and brace

Stud Wall
I don't mean to nitpick as I'm certainly not a carp, and certainly have little experience; however, the "stud walls" in these pictures are not what I'm familiar with as stud walls. I thought a stud wall has multiple parallel sections. (4x8 stud wall would have 3 or so of these parallel sections, same length as top / bottom rail.)
 

bobgaggle

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Nov 19, 2007
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Philadelphia, PA
I've done a few two story pieces, one was a 52' x 3' catwalk. It was just a long platform with a railing, but the other piece I did was a two sided wall for Fools. Both of the pieces are 8' high and joists for the flooring are 16" apart. All vertical studs are 18" inches apart. For the catwalk, you can see the distances I put between the uprights, and all of the frame pieces are 2"x8".

Another note: The catwalk needed only four diagonal braces to minimize movement, two on each side. For the Fools house, the plywood walls killed a lot of wobble, but i had to put some diagonals between the posts and the wall.

These pics are renderings I did in google SketchUp, which isn't bad for freeware.
Fools House Dimensions.jpg
Catwalk Dimensions.jpg
 

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soundman

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I don't mean to nitpick as I'm certainly not a carp, and certainly have little experience; however, the "stud walls" in these pictures are not what I'm familiar with as stud walls. I thought a stud wall has multiple parallel sections. (4x8 stud wall would have 3 or so of these parallel sections, same length as top / bottom rail.)
The top picture was just a framed platform but to me a stud wall is something used to evenly distribute load using 2*4s so the lower picture qualifies by my book.
 

gafftaper

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I don't mean to nitpick as I'm certainly not a carp, and certainly have little experience; however, the "stud walls" in these pictures are not what I'm familiar with as stud walls. I thought a stud wall has multiple parallel sections. (4x8 stud wall would have 3 or so of these parallel sections, same length as top / bottom rail.)
The first one no but yes the second one is stud walls... I like mine better.

"All things theater" I have to agree with Alex (Unless those platforms are sporting 2x6 or 2x8 frames). Is that a support going the long way down the center of your platforms? How does the weight on it get supported? On the flip side there's no need to use 2x4 for the cross bracing. It's not supporting the weight of the deck above, it's locking the vertical supports together to prevent sway. Use 1x4 instead and save a few bucks.

Bobgaggle same for you... It's hard to tell for sure from these drawings but that catwalk especially concerns me. I don't see how you prevented movement in the long direction. All it takes is a little fatigue and that whole things going to collapse left or right.
 
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Leesburg Virginia
I agree with your sentiments (now in red), but you should heed them too. I certainly hope that your drawing is not of an 8' x 16' platform made from four 4' x 8' platforms. Because if it is, you are not building your platforms with sufficient framing or support (assuming standard construction and 3/4" plywood lid). There are many things wrong with your picture, so as you say, do some research and calculations.
No, they are not seperate platforms, the lines on the top are floor joists for people to walk on the second story. We would never just join those together.
 

bobgaggle

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Philadelphia, PA
Bobgaggle same for you... It's hard to tell for sure from these drawings but that catwalk especially concerns me. I don't see how you prevented movement in the long direction. All it takes is a little fatigue and that whole things going to collapse left or right.
You can see on the second post from each end i put in a diagonal. They were about 8 feet long and bolted to the floor. All lateral movement was next to nil. The railing across the top also added more support, because the railing is supported by the posts that go all the way to the floor. I added lock washers on the 3/4" Carridge Bolts i used to attach the posts. The two sets of stairs killed all movement on the short side