Thursday, August 30, 2007
I tried out 3D Studio Max on version 3 ( I think), and it can be a nice tool. Its more useful for design than technical production, but at the time it worked well with Autocad. Though, I particularly thought the site was intriguing because I use Lego's when I teach AutoCad. I like them because they teach basic 2-d commands, are easy to draft and thus help with showing various ways of drafting the same object, help with accuracy (stacking them on top of each other shows if you make a spacing error), and can be easily extruded into 3-D. And they are great for learning 3-d as well.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I have to say its funny how time passes by. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that rope lights came out, and how they slowly fell in price. Now lots of people have them for Christmas lights, and the blue lights are common in a lot of theatres for backstage lighting during shows. And now of course you can get the LED ropelight so its even brighter.
As for light boxes, between bouncing light off of reflectors for diffusion, Christmas lights, rope lights, and a variety of LED options, there always have been a variety of options. Hotspots are always a problem – individual bulbs, Christmas lights and the like all tend to create a box with differing intensities (which can be worked out, but it takes planning and a lot of light. Diffusion is definitely always needed. I have used sanded plexi, as well as frost gels, but last night on HGTV they built a box using fluorescent bulbs and vellum. I think it would be an interesting experiment to do plans of Plexiglas that have different treatments (sanded, sanded with frost, frost alone) and then different types of lights behind. Like a large divided grid where you could see each configuration first hand.
At work day to day it is hard to find time to experiment. There is not general money available to provide materials, and show budgets are tight as well. Plus in the middle of a production you often don’t have the time to try 3 or 4 different ways of doing something, you have to pick something you know, or are reasonably confident of and move forward. When I was getting my MFA, it was a disappointment that there wasn’t more time to experiment. The production pressure was the same, and if anything the financial situation was worse. I think academia needs to balance real production work with theoretical and experimental work better.
If you have a site you can find out if it passes the "colorblind test" at
Monday, August 27, 2007
A good source for technical theatre related books. It has a pretty well rounded collection of books, though I wouldn't say it was a complete listing.
This site has a wide variety of links catering to technicians. The page is slow to load, but does include some good sources.
This page is an information page hosted by a rigging company which deals with primarily ships rigging. Nonetheless, the information is valid for theatrical use.
Based in New Jersey, yet shipping anywhere Dykes Lumber offers a variety of molding profiles. You can see their catalog and download drawings. Dykes can be useful, as occasionally designs (especially ones from the city) will specify Dykes profiles.
Last but not least is a site hosted by thermal foams that has a variety of PDF's available about foam. Thermal foams itself, is a great company in which I often ordered custom cut EPS foam when I lived further east than I do now.
Rosebrand sells fabric which distinctly lists stretch factor (in both directions if needed), as well as whole scenic elements. If you want to get a little more fancy check out Pink inc.
Though, while these are fun, I still think buying some fabric, a variety of fabric clips, and a few hours with some friends and a ladder may be the best way to go.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Below are a few links with a variety of brick options. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but a few sites that I have located in my current search to find flexible bricks that would hold up in an environment filled with water and little kids.
In case you would like to build your own vacuum form table.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
From News.com, they have some story about the mechanics, but not as much as I would have liked to have seen.
They also reported on "Love". It can be seen at http://news.com.com/2300-13576_3-6197839-1.html?tag=ne.gall.pg.
Its a rigging chart that shows information related to cable clamps, slings, turnbuckles and the like.
Additional resources can be found at the following links.
Not a PDF, but does list common breaking strengths.
Formulas and other links. Has links for free rigging software.
You can't beat clancy's website. It has alot of great information available.
And for purchases, Bill Sapsis is on the top of the list for rigging supplies.
Monday, August 20, 2007
The site talks about thread count and pitch and has some useful charts. What I like best however is the printable PDF thread gauge. There are a variety of tools that I think it is nice to have around the shop for information like a drill index guide (so your bits always get returned to the right spot), and this guide, printed (and maybe even laminated!) needs to join the ranks.
By the way, Bolt Depot, the site where the threat gauge is at also has a variety of other printable PDF's. http://www.boltdepot.com/fastener-information/Printable-Tools/Default.aspx Will get you to that site.
Also, at the same site is a chart describing metric us grading. http://www.boltdepot.com/fastener-information/Materials-and-Grades/Bolt-Grade-Chart.aspx
In short, the Bolt Depot definitely cuts it as site of the day.
Friday, August 17, 2007
More information is available at:http://www.spectratechmdf.com/
Also, looking at what they use them for is a good way to get ideas.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The word is that it works really well, but you have to follow the directions carefully. While useful in theatre (RP screens for instance), this seems like a must while I am camping with my 3 large mutts.
DI Upholstery has a separate website for chairs and couches which you can get to at http://www.diyupholsterysupply.com/ChairChart.html
Has a variety of chairs, couches, foot stools and the like as well as slide shows about the business.
I think its an interesting idea. I know when I build storage projects around my house I always avoid drawers because I don't like the hassle of all of the hardware and joinery. Of course my excuse is that my home shop doesn't have the capability of the fine joinery (rabbit joints, planers, etc) that I would like to have to do the job right.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Mega-Couplers have a wide range of products including one that threads directly to a pipe which is great for booms. You can check them out at the 2nd link below.
All in all its a site worth a look:
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The above website hosts a range of plywood cylinders in several lengths. While cost is always relative, they are reasonable prices. Tape Ease as a wide variety of veneers, laminate, and edge banding as well. hey also have hand and power tools to work with the products they sell.
Tapeease also has MDF corners that are curved.
This site has fiberboard tubes - in circular shapes, but also other shapes as well.
This site also sells caps for the cylinders.
Monday, August 13, 2007
The first example of this is cable guide clips. While stretching drops vertically can be done in a variety of relatively easy methods, keeping it from hour glassing and stretching it horizontally was always harder- especially depending on your space. Cable guide clips are a good solution for this (assuming that you can get a decent amount of vertical tension from your cable). A minimum amount of room is needed and a fly line could still fly if needed (though perhaps a beefier version of the clip with a bearing or glide would be better for that purpose.
Another product that you now see versions of just about everywhere are clips that squeeze your material on one side and then have a hook or hole for you to tie to on the other. In Rose brand they call them Holdon (with mini and maxi versions), but you can find versions of them everywhere. I suspect that it would be an interesting project to gather a variety of different models and test them against each other. Nevertheless, they are much nicer to use visually than the classic spring clip, though I doubt the spring clip will disappear from theatres anytime soon. Besides, they are still the best at holding drapes.
Last but not least, I thought the bongo ties and the stretch-n-hook ties were nice (also in Rose brand. A reusable solution for alot of places that zip ties are often used.
Friday, August 10, 2007
A couple of things I noticed while browsing through the catalog this morning was a layout protractor that is 36" wide by 18" tall. I know when I have laid out odd shapes that would have been a convenient way to accurately layout precise angles. In fact, the difficultly in layout in angles is so problematic that it is often side stepped by alternative layout methods.
The square grid kraft paper also caught my eye, but its a little pricey at 120 a roll. With the availability and financial feasibility of plotting now, it seems cheaper (depending on scale of course) to actually plot a given layout instead of laying it out by hand on paper. Both technical require pouncing and / or transfer to the lumber or material it is applied to, so the savings isn't there.
In a similar vein, it is like the caster donuts they sell. A set of 4 is $29. Pretty expensive for a small shop considering its basically scrap plywood. Even with labor costs to fabricate the blocks, 4 would cost less than 29 for a set. In shops big enough for a CNC router, the cost would be minimal as you could cut a whole sheet at once. Yet, if you compare the price to the cost of the hamper, 29 more so they stack and you don't have to deal with it doesn't seem bad either.
So you have multiple variables. At what point is it more efficient to buy a part versus make a part. Time (labor costs), costs of materials, costs of specialized tools (like a CNC router) are all components. Not much of a budget, but lots of available labor equals a choice much different than having some budget, but a pressed timeline. A shop I worked at once watered down all of the simple green to clean steel, and then paid people hourly to clean the steel with the watered down cleaner. Weighing the cost of a gallon of Simple green against the hourly rate of the carpenters meant that this supposedly budget saving trick really meant they paid more money out (in terms of labor), and had less available time to do other projects. But it defies the simple logic that making the cleaner stretch further is a cost savings. When money is available there are different types of questions... Time becomes the most important factor. How many projects are in the shop, how many loose ends, who is available.
I know that some think it is perhaps silly to spend time thinking about these things, but I disagree. There aren't rules that work in every situation that guarantee a best choice. A small shop with no time may want to find the money to purchase something that will make their production schedule easier. A busy shop may build something they could purchase to keep people busy during a slow period. To idly dismiss all of the options based on preconceived notions, or past experiences is the danger here, as only then can you be sure that it isn't necessarily the best option to fit your shops needs.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I do wonder what they use to glue the laminate together because for tracks and such for theatrical purposes, flexibility in size would be a requirement.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I have mixed thoughts about them. They would be easy to make a shop - built version, but they look a little clunky to me. But it is a neat idea nonetheless.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
A PDF of the product is available at:
An additional site to reference with a larger line can be found at:
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Check it out: http://support.automationdirect.com/docs/glossary.html
Its a good sight, with some applicable products. I particularly like the range of available toggle and hold down clamps.