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    after 12 years working for other people I now run a stupidly successful international effects design company which means I've most definitely been there and done that when it comes to making the impossible happen. My family are in circus and I'm a recognised circus rigger and TM so camping trips can be very epic!
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    tom moore

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  1. The only real “robust” machines are the old jem designs, now rebranded as Martin. I’ve seen those units dropping with water and dropped of the back of a lorry still working. Any of the modern drop ship brands (antari, chervut, etc) are designed to hit a price point not actual long term stability.
  2. That is terrible advice - this WILL impact the properties of the beam and almost certainly reduce its rating. Steel frame construction increasingly “economises” its design to ensure parts are only just strong enough to meet the forces (and safety factors) applied to them- compromising the integrity of the beam by randomly welding non-standard connection parts to it is crazy and needless. Non-destructive connectors are perfect for the task the OP is trying to achieve, permanent structural modifications absolutely are not.
  3. If this is a touring show then remember each venues tech manager my well want to see some fire safety paperwork for your “screen” which an old sheet or a show curtain won’t have. isn’t a better solution to use a good quality screen and render some “decay” and dirt into the video itself?
  4. Tbh unless you’re happy to pay 4 figures all anyone will do it buy a radio controlled car and glue it into your frame as it’s a technology that will “just work” so you might as well just do that yourself. if it’s got to be especially powerful or if you’re adding multiple extra motions then a custom solution might be the only way but virtually every Panto and single year touring musical that has a prop like this is actually an off the shelf RC car and a lot of hot melt glue.
  5. Why? Multi track recording has been accessible and easy for decades; find out what precisely he is trying to achieve as it can't surely be just to record "stereo"
  6. Normal, non surfaced ply all the way. You can’t really paint it, if it gets damaged it’s unrepairable and every screw or staple that goes into it adds another point of failure. Regular ply painted black is cheaper, easily repairable, durable, adaptable / flexible in actual use and will match any other decking you sub in. as for painting - with a roller (on a stick) it’s reasonably quick; because of the quantities you’re going to do invest in a £30 spray gun from Toolstation and spray paint them: 4-5 thin layers (each one at 45degrees to the last) will give you a fast, even coat in surprisingly little time.
  7. pushing back a bit here - the OP does ask for something that does it "automatically" suggesting there isn't currently backstage staff with the time / skills to do this manually, the OP also works in contemporary dance which is almost universally under-funded and under staffed from a tech crew point of view; these are the markers that normally indicate to me that this automation is to save money / reduce staffing when in reality its not going to. The op is also very clear about this starting at almost ground level and raising up to 3m which puts all the pantographs / chains / home made systems mentioned right into prime "something gets caught" height range so if implemented would require multiple safety interlocks and stage crew to monitor when in motion; more complications and costs. Also dancers in dance companies do have an incredible ability to put themselves in harms way backstage. to the OP - the closest to off-the-shelf you will find is going to be something from wahlberg but please do also consider your design and implementation very carefully - something which can lift 30kg of moving light 3m up and down will punch holes in sets, tear curtains and slice bits off humans within seconds if anything goes wrong so you do have to ensure you are taking proper precautions and have considered every worst case scenario.
  8. Just to be the grinch here... what you're making is ultimately a piece of automation so in-show-use it will need lots of safety switches / crash sensors on it, some heavy-duty safety assessment paperwork and probably a dedicated member of backstage team responsible for checking it and operating (or overseeing its "automatic" operation) in the show. This is something that will require $00000's of equipment (that admittedly you may be able to rent rather than buy) and a weekly operating/staffing cost of at least $1000 so before you get your heart too set on this its worth stopping to make sure the show has a budget that can absorb those sorts of costs?
  9. Just a general note based on experiences helping others - just because you /could/ 3D print a perfect model, doesn't mean you can. One example that jumps to mind was someone who wanted to print a model of a grand piano for a model box. He found a stl file, scaled it and couldn't get it to print, he used CAD to make his own model, scaled it and couldn't get it to print - in both cases I had to point out that the spindly legs of the piano were so thin that when scaled to modelbox size they were barely 1mm thick; virtually impossible to print. In the case of the steeldeck pieces linked above they would appear to have been designed with 3D printing in mind but if you add legs to them make sure you 3D print an actual solid leg, not a scaled scaffold tube as the latter would again have walls so thin the model would either fail to print or crumble at the slightest touch. Sometimes with modelboxes getting a shape that fills the correct volumetric space is more important than producing a photo-real, perfectly accurate 3D part.
  10. The mister / fan / LED’s system I describe will give you exactly what you need - the “flames” will be effectively invisible until you turn the LED’s on and or you can ramp the fan power up (turn on a second fan for a few seconds) will make the visible flames suddenly get visibly much taller for a few seconds.
  11. Vape coils work by (essentially) shorting the battery through the coil to produce a lot of heat very quickly. It’s fine for a couple of seconds cycled at most once or twice per minute intermittently but any more than that causes catastrophic failure of the battery and or the melting of the coil. I’ve got a LOT of experience in this field - if you’ve seen a vape based smoke system in a prop in theatre in the last 5 years there’s something like a 1:3 chance its one of mine….
  12. Vape based smoke tech is great for short bursts or relatively dense smoke in a small volume. It’s not viable (or safe because of the currents involved) for longer bursts or large volume. we’ve put loads of mist maker based systems into attractions and events that need the sort of effect the OP describes because it is the safest, easiest, most dependable solution.
  13. Ultrasonic mist maker / pond fogger under water in a “sealed” box the size of the “fire” you want with holes drilled in a line in the lid. a small (really small, we’re talking 5v 30/10 fan kinda size) blowing air into the box which picks up some of the mister generated fog and blow it out through the holes in the lid. This will produce the smoke you need which you can then up light / backlight with orange, red & yellow LED’s and is how we do it in theme park scenarios. Depending on the size of your fire you might need multiple misters but domestic grade ones can be bought for a few quid on eBay.
  14. Loving it - thankyou for sharing!
  15. Worth noting how the factories in this later video have posters and signs up, have jigs, moulds, custom trays, custom tooling, actual manufacturing devices in the room. Proper building rigs, proper testing rigs, visible “production line” setup - it’s clear that these companies have their own production line (or at the very least rent specialist, experienced manufacturing teams / facilities for this sector) rather than the generic rent-a-room setup in the first video. also worth noting the fleeting trip to one of the injection moulding suppliers - showing how individual parts are sourced from small business / family business that are often a single tool or skill supplier who today are making buttons for their connectors and tomorrow are making buttons for something else. @musht - the problem is that’s not how it works (mostly) out there. There is zero communication or feedback between the suppliers and construction elements in the chain - generic lighting co get “a design” from a designer that they sell; once the order is in they contract generic assembly co to actually make it to the specification they state (often with neither party having any real world understanding or experience of /what/ they are making) with the assembly co buying in assemblies from other assembly co (we need 10,000 green LED’s, some of those DMX interface things, some casings roughly this size/shape, 500 power supplies) often with price as their primary concern but also with no direct understanding of how the product will be used. They then assemble all the units and hand them over to the generic packaging co (or, shudder, flight case “manufacturer”) to be packed up and then handed to another shipping co who will export them. there are products it works just fine fore but anything that needs a long lifespan/support/replicability it’s not appropriate for and for technical products it introduces a lot of variables in the process (6 or 7 buyers each making judgement calls about the suitability of parts without any industry relevant knowledge) that make it something of a lottery. Because of how generic and interchangeable the whole ecosystem is people and companies regularly change completely. One sales person who supplied us with some specialist RF stuff later moved to a golf club company and still spams us trying to get us to become a golf importer. A company that previously manufactured 12,000 theatre seats for us is now a nuts / bolts manufacturer.
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