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Pyro query..


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The production I'm working on features a shot being fired at an old fashioned rifle target, and the director would like a second shot to make a glass tankard (being held by another singer) explode as if it's been shot. I don't have a lot of experience with pyro so thought I'd throw this out there...


For the rifle target, the audience will see both the front and back - so ideally I'm thinking a small pyro, just enough to break the paper cover that we are attaching to the target frame. Is there a way of guaranteeing that the direction of the 'blast' will look as if the shot has come from where the gunman is standing?


For the glass I was thinking sugar glass but the holder won't be able to smash it himself, which makes me think I'll probably need a small pyro in that also?!


Argh! Any help would be amazing!



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Well, first off pyro is probably NOT going to be the best solution for either effect.


Think of what an actual hit would look like. Quite simply a hole in the target and the glass just shattering.


You should probably be best looking at solenoid mechanisms for both - ie an electromagnetic operated plunger that can be 'set off' remotely to make a hole in the target, and physically break the glass, then retreat back into whatever hole you poke it through.


yes, there ARE pyros which simulate gunshots, but these tend to be more for burying within faux plaster rather than jobs like this.



I've just noticed the glass 'held by a singer' bit...

That makes things doubly difficult.


You have the HOW to make the glass shatter, but more importantly the HOW to do it SAFELY without causing injury to that performer. AND you have the issue with clearing up broken glass from the stage...


I suggest your director may want to rethink that one.

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Another suggestion for a rethink without pyro.


Look at something pre cut that can smash into controlled pieces for the shot tumbler, Look at something involving solenoids to punch a hole in the target, (look at fitting the target to some corrugated card to give you some thickness to use to conceal the mechanism.

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It might be tricky to get sugar glass (or the more modern "smash" resin) to disintegrate properly with a safe enough pyro device, and there is a risk of flying debris which even with sugar glass can cause injury. Is this a multi-use prop? For the glass I'd be tempted to consider using a clear plastic tanker dremeled to separate in half on cue, leaving the actor holding one part while the other part fell with a load of fake broken bits that had been inside the glass so there was a reasonable mess on the floor. Simple mechanisms are always more reliable, so consider holding the tankard halves together with a simple pin and cord system where the actor simply pulls the cord subtly to "break" the prop. Then it's down to acting to make the prop perform as if it was hit and react accordingly.


For the target, if it is on a backplate then it could already have a clean "dramatised" hole in it that was visible when the target was removed. Is the gun going to be blank firing? Or is the gunshot going to be sold with sound effects. If the latter then the target and glass smash noises could be added to the gun sound effects.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks for these suggestions guys... my director is adament that he saw a glass shatter spontaneously on an episode of Qi (which he isn't wrong about) however on the TV show the glass was sat on a table rather than on someones hand... plus they probably had a considerably larger budget... Needless to say, for now, he's not letting it go. He is also 'certain' that he researched this himself a while ago and found a mechanism that did exactly what he needs for 'around £15-£20'...Argh.
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You may wish to point out that TV is NOT theatre...!


I've not seen that episode, but on shows like QI, they can film the effect safely away from punters/cast etc and then have time when cameras stop rolling to clean the crap up!!

in a live show, when does your director think the shards of rather dangerous glass are going to get cleared...?

And how is he applying this TV effect to the unpredictable world of stage?


Sorry - he's off his trolley on this one!



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I cannot see it but I am sure someone mentioned that rubber glass stuff above.


I do not know the method exactly but he could well be talking about something like a solenoid.


However I am sure I have seen the below somewhere, bear with me for the description -


It's like a sprung pen, that you click to use and twist to release, the "hammer" is pushed in and can be released to hit something when the trigger is pressed.


I suppose a bit like this http://www.flints.co.uk/acatalog/Small_door_stop.jpg but smaller more like a mega ball catch.


Has a google...


Like this http://www.sourcingmap.com/pcs-238-inch-spring-loaded-door-stainless-steel-bolt-p-60419.html I guess.

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As a piece for film or TV then you can break and reset as many times as needed and sweep up between shots. This is how film works! Then the shot is edited into the correct sequence later.


On stage you cannot reset or sweep up til the curtain falls, so a 200g drinking glass will make 200g of sharp shards and splinters of glass that will contaminate a large area of stage and cut feet even assuming that the glass was at a sufficient range from the artiste that they are not a human pincusion.


Now my local Revolution vodka bar has polycarbonate drinking glasses that look a bit like glass and could possibly be "prepared" with a dremel assuming that you have one locally and that they will sell you a few or name their supplier. (Other nightclubs may have similar!)

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