Friday, February 15, 2008

The real deal

Lately I've been building sets at Staples High School in the evenings. Schedule-wise, this makes for some long days, but oh well, I like the work. At the moment we're building the set for Romeo and Juliet. The set consists of three walls forming an Italian plaza. The set is conceptual in its design so we make no attempt to disguise the fact that these walls are sitting in the middle of a theatre.

The centerpiece of the set is a gigantic clock. The clock is six feet in diameter and is built into the front of the center building. The clock rests about six feet off the ground and is designed to be illuminated from behind so that it can "become" the moon. The clock also needs to have real hands which dangle limply wherever we decide to put them.

So, it sounds like we need a gigantic lightbox. The design called for a six foot square lightbox to be skinned with rear-projection material which can be painted to look like the face of the clock. This all sounds good on paper, and when I converted the designers sketches into CAD drawings everything looked good. Yesterday we built the box.

A large lightbox

Sometimes you can see something drawn on paper and not realize exactly what the scale means. I knew it was a six foot lightbox, but I don't think I knew what a six foot lightbox was. I think my first reaction was "Uhh... that's pretty big". Thats before I realized that we could stand people up inside of it.

My second reaction was "Uhh... that's pretty heavy". Here's the part where I admit to making a rookie (in the field of enormous lightboxes) mistake. The sides of the box called for 3/4" plywood so that it would provide structure to the building around it. The mistake that I made, was to build the back of the box out of 3/4" plywood also. The rear of the box is non-structural and, as a result of my mistake, is now incredibly heavy. Which means I now have to alter my structural design to support the new weight of Gigantor, the lightbox.

So, what's to be made of this? Nothing really. Hopefully there's a lesson to be learned. I think the lesson is, when building large things off spec, think twice about the materials.

1 comment:

David said...

i, for one, love the new blog. keep it up. ttys.