Water Effect on a Boat


Active Member
This year for our musical, we're doing Anything Goes. It's entirely set on a boat and we're building the front of the boat out in to our pit. The director would like some sort of effect that will put the "reflection" of the non-existent water in the face of the actors when they lean over the edge. The boat is about three or four feet tall so that is all the room I have to work with if I put it on the floor. Any ideas?
I don't think that using actual water is going to work for what we're trying to do. Any other ideas? Also, any general ideas for the show?
See if you can find a ripple machine. Sorry but I forget who makes the fixture.

Otherwise some moving lights have that effect available and I'm sure there is a USITT home made effect available for doing this.

Also many projected flame effects if you slow down the speed and change the coloring would have a similar effect.
Get ahold of a Gam Film F/X. Try putting it at a low angle at the edge of the pit railing, creating a steep uplight position. A split color gel will also create nice difraction within the beam.

The AquaSplash by Visual Effects will do the trick.

Its' a relatively small fixture and projects the image of reflected water.


Here's a link to a quick time movie.


They are available for under $ 200.00
How wide is the beam angle on that? I need something that can spread at least 7 or 8 feet wide from possibly as little as 9 feet away.

Any leads on the ripple machine?
If memory serves on the amount of lamps, this fixture uses a dual set of 22,000 Lumen BLV/DZX 1,000 Watt lamps thus it's fairly bright and wide. It's about the size of a single cell cyc light and probably has a similar beam spread. Speed is variable as per running the rotation motor on it's own lighting control/dimmer circuit. This motor will survive dimming for a while but does burn out eventually. Gel frame assembly is also a bit weak, but otherwise it's a rather cool fixture for flame effects and water. This or just plain psycedelic effects.

Contact me off line and I will send a link to the only company I know of that has them where you could inquire with a sales rep about renting them. It's an odd fixture otherwise I would not mention where I work as a source. Not trying to make a rental and I would be forwarding you to someone else but it's an odd piece of gear thus...

Fourth Phase might have some also. A few of the larger lighting companies might have such things. It's not such a new ligting instrument but still something that does come in handy and probably never leave the active inventory.

Anyway while my normal sales rep Marty has left for the night, someone else that didn't understand English so well says they sell this Ripple Machine fixture. Not absolutely sure he knew what he was talking about but this company might be the one that sells them. (Bill, any conformation on this?)

Moonlight Industries/Kupo Industrial Corp. (Cyc Lights, Club Lights, Mirror Ball Motor & Special Effects Lights, DJ Supply & Theater Supply) www.moonlightusa.com

They don't list the Ripple Machine on their website and the fixture pre-dates me where I work. In the morning I will search the PO system for where I bought parts from to the last of them I repaired. This will confirm who makes the gear.

If Moonlight does make/sell the fixture, the sales rep might also know of other companies that own this fixture to rent from or they might do rentals.
BillESC said:
The AquaSplash by Visual Effects will do the trick.

Its' a relatively small fixture and projects the image of reflected water.

Thanks for the link to a company I have not seen before. The ELC lamp might be bright enough depending upon the effect, but what's the beam spread of the fixture? Website doesn't say.
Note also that there is other options. Many flame and cloud effects projecting equipment might have the ability to do a water effect. In reality, it's some similar type of effect.

For instance City Theatrical sells a S-4 Leko based fixture normally for cloud and flame effects that might have a glass painted wheel for water effects. I know we don't have the water wheel (I will ask but don't remember one) but if you check City Thatrical to see if there is a water effect disc, than there are some such as Fourth Phase that might have that disc as an option in rental. Such one time use gear unless cheap which this is not is not worth buying.

Otherwise in renting this piece of effects equipment or others, you could inquire with the renter about getting a water disc for it or in buying your own to supplement the rental. In renting something they would have to buy it will go up some in rental cost but hopefully not as much as it would cost to buy your own effects wheel that later is useless to you.

One word of caution about the City Theatrical wheel. Don't get it running too slow. The effects discs burn up quick if they don't keep moving fast enough. Very expensive replacement if you rent and burn up the disc. Their minimum RPM threshold is a wee bit fast for me also.

There is other types of effect projecting gear out there besides the Leko mounted glass painted rotating disc. Start with the various stage lighting and moving light companies and work out from there. If they sell a Moonflower type of thing ofen they might other gear to project stuff.

If you wish, contact me off line and I will give you a copy of my weblink list to search from. It's seven pages of single spaced type thus a lot of sources to check.
The beam spread is about 30 degrees. I would say at 9' you'd have about a 5 to 7' spread. I'll check tomorrow as I have a couple in the rental shop.
What about using an actual reflection? If you put some sort of relatively highly reflective material on the floor (which you could make look like water). Then focus ellipsoidals (possibly with gobo-rotators and split-gels) on the shiny material to get the bounce lit coming up into the actors faces. did that make sense? i think so.

Once you start talking rotators and stuff, that equals money, which you might as well rent one of the City Theatrical Tubular Ripple Projector, which is what we decided to do. They were $75 for the week (not too bad). I'll let you know how they work.
Here's what you need and it's cheap!

-Cheap disposable aluminum Turkey roasting pan
-a mirror... I used the 12 inch squares available at the home improvement store
-An IV drip line... find someone who's a nurse to get you one for free
-An empty 2 liter bottle.
-an Ellipsoidal and Gel

Fill the pan, put the mirror in the bottom, fill the 2 liter bottle and cut the cap so you can shove the IV drip in it. Hang your IV from something nearby and let it drip from 5 inches or so over the pan. You now can precisely control the drip rate of water. Set it up so the water drips in the pan at a moderately steady drip so that it creates a continuous series of ripples... you don't want a lot of waves overlapping. Shine an ellipsoidal with your favorite gel color into the pan at an angle. You can aim where the reflection of the mirror goes by the adjusting both the instrument or putting something under the mirror to change it's angle. It looks great!

Need more reflections... go spend another $5 and make another one.
Wow now thats a good idea ^^^^^ :!: :!:
It takes some playing with to get it located in just the right place to shine where you want, but I guarantee you will get the look you are dreaming of... as if an ellipsoidal was shining up through an agitated swimming pool. I had mine set up to shine across one side of the proscenium. I needed it in the second act of "the good doctor". I preset the drip rate on the IV line and close pinned it off so it wouldn't drip. At intermission I had the ASM go unplug the drip line and I was ready to roll.
theres a great ripple machine...take a reflective flexible material, staple onto plywood in a ripple shape, and have a person or two behind the boat moving one or two of these sheets from behind with the sheets in front. If you have blue panels it looks like water to, and its alot less than a ripple machine

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