Wilting Flowers!

Robert F Jarvis

Well-Known Member
We are putting on Shrek and early in the show we have tmake a flower "Wilt". I was think of using several thin tubes with "Flower heads" on that we could inflate. With them inflated the flower heads would stand tall. If we let the air out then the flower heads should collapes. But, not sure of what sort of tubing I could use. Or has any one a better idea for a controlable wilting flower?
 

jonliles

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
I like the concept. As we need a large very visisble flower on stage I would have to think about how to construct one. Might not be easy. Hmm!
How large is is visible? PVC Tubes for stalks?
 

Benjamin Fink

Active Member
I think I saw an exhibit or workshop at USITT this year on cable and tentacle mechanisms, and I think that might be a solution for this, or may be overkill but a decent starting point to brainstorm. I foud a couple of excerpts from the Rick Baker School on Youtube on cable mechanisms. They have a paid course here that has a 7-day free trial that the videos are taken from. The first one is the full course overview. There are a lot of mechanisms that the course goes through, but at 0:27, there's a short shot of a finger mechanism using flexible tubing and a single cable per finger that might do what you're looking for. I was able to find a link to a write up on the finger rig here. Again, it's limited, but I think if this is something you want to chase down, you could get the info you need in the 7-day trial. The second is more focused on a tail mechanism. The cables run along either side of a material that is rigid in the X direction but flexes in the Y direction.

Working off of the push puppet concept, I wonder if you couldn't cut a section of PVC pipes into short lengths to act as the beads of the puppet and then run an aircraft cable through some small brackets on each piece to connect to the top of the pipe and run down through the pipe to a control position under a platform or offstage. If you want to make sure the flowers droop in a certain direction and the beads don't pivot off to the side, I wonder if you could hinge each section of pipe together with small hinges or something to keep it from twisting as it falls. Then if the weight of the flowers is centered towards the hinged side of the pipe, you could add slack to the cable and they would droop down. Then you could cover everything with a tube of stretchy green fabric. If it works, I think this mechanism would also let you gang a bunch of cables together to make a number of flowers all droop in unison, as well as reset by pulling the cable taut.

Here's a drawing of what I'm thinking. PVC pipe in blue, hardware in black, and aircraft cable in red. The right side is a detail drawing to show the joints between the pipe sections. I haven't built anything like this, so I'm not sure if it would work quite how I'm thinking.


1656442021127.png


I also found this old Reddit thread with links to a Flickr page where somebody looks to have made a scaled up push puppet using some rigid cardboard and a rope. From the looks of it, I think the prop would need to be manually reset (i.e. you couldn't just pull the rope and make the plant stand back up), but if you don't need to reset in view of the audience, this looks to be a much simpler option.

There's also some magic trick props like this one that you might be able to purchase and use or copy.
 

Robert F Jarvis

Well-Known Member
I think I saw an exhibit or workshop at USITT this year on cable and tentacle mechanisms, and I think that might be a solution for this, or may be overkill but a decent starting point to brainstorm. I foud a couple of excerpts from the Rick Baker School on Youtube on cable mechanisms. They have a paid course here that has a 7-day free trial that the videos are taken from. The first one is the full course overview. There are a lot of mechanisms that the course goes through, but at 0:27, there's a short shot of a finger mechanism using flexible tubing and a single cable per finger that might do what you're looking for. I was able to find a link to a write up on the finger rig here. Again, it's limited, but I think if this is something you want to chase down, you could get the info you need in the 7-day trial. The second is more focused on a tail mechanism. The cables run along either side of a material that is rigid in the X direction but flexes in the Y direction.

Working off of the push puppet concept, I wonder if you couldn't cut a section of PVC pipes into short lengths to act as the beads of the puppet and then run an aircraft cable through some small brackets on each piece to connect to the top of the pipe and run down through the pipe to a control position under a platform or offstage. If you want to make sure the flowers droop in a certain direction and the beads don't pivot off to the side, I wonder if you could hinge each section of pipe together with small hinges or something to keep it from twisting as it falls. Then if the weight of the flowers is centered towards the hinged side of the pipe, you could add slack to the cable and they would droop down. Then you could cover everything with a tube of stretchy green fabric. If it works, I think this mechanism would also let you gang a bunch of cables together to make a number of flowers all droop in unison, as well as reset by pulling the cable taut.

Here's a drawing of what I'm thinking. PVC pipe in blue, hardware in black, and aircraft cable in red. The right side is a detail drawing to show the joints between the pipe sections. I haven't built anything like this, so I'm not sure if it would work quite how I'm thinking.


View attachment 23183

I also found this old Reddit thread with links to a Flickr page where somebody looks to have made a scaled up push puppet using some rigid cardboard and a rope. From the looks of it, I think the prop would need to be manually reset (i.e. you couldn't just pull the rope and make the plant stand back up), but if you don't need to reset in view of the audience, this looks to be a much simpler option.

There's also some magic trick props like this one that you might be able to purchase and use or copy.
I put a couple of these idea to director but she has her own idea. Uses hollow material "Tubes" with some sort of former (like a wired made form coathanger) pushed up the tube. The petals are fixed to the top and then somehow the wired is withdrawn from the tube to 'collapse' the stalk. It has to be reset manuallywhihc is fine. But withdrawing that wire is giving us a headache. She wnats to drill a hole in the stage floor!
 

Benjamin Fink

Active Member
Are these needing to be installed directly on the stage deck and visible for the full show (i.e. they can't be on a raised platform or a rolling wagon)? If there's a rigid rod, then it will need somewhere to go when retracted, e.g. down through the deck into the trap room, or retracted into a lower portion of the stem or other masking object.

If the flowers are installed directly onto the deck, I think I would probably put a pulley at the bottom of them and then run an operating line through the pulley and into a cable raceway that leads offstage, but there's still the problem of where the rod goes when retracted.

Something like those telescoping toy lightsabers might work? At the start of the show you pull them out, and then you can pull a string run up through them and they collapse down into their base. I think the visual might be a little off, as they would retract down into themselves instead of wilting, but if you have some other structure that would resist compression but bend that would solve that problem. I'm envisioning running some aircraft cable parallel to the rod inside of a fabric tube or something.

I still think a PVC push puppet might do what she's envisioning. If you cut the sections small enough and feed the assembly through an outer sleeve (either a sewed cloth or a similar sleeve to the above idea) you can release the tension and it will fall, and there's no rod or wire that needs to go anywhere. If the flower leaves and petals are light enough, you can probably use the smallest PVC or PEX pipe you can find. The sections of pipe would also give you some structure points to attach the leaves and flower head.

Otherwise, if you can raise the flowers up from off of the deck, either on top of a platform or masked on the back side of a groundrow or something, that makes the rigid wire much easier to pull off.
 

Robert F Jarvis

Well-Known Member
The"Flower" will only be onstage a short time thus compounding the hole though floor business (IE lining it up would be a bear). I like the Push Puppet idea and after making the segmented PVC pipe will ask wardrobe to make a sheath out of green clothe. They can stick whatever flower heaed on it they want. I think a spring held agianst some sort of lever that could be pulled out by a black chord run scross stage may be the trigger. I'm working this over. Ideally a DMX activated actuator would be better. Thanks for the ideas.
 

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