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FLY SYSTEMS AND YOU. By: Nolan Luckett, Charles Chace, And Ryan Fennessy. How a fly system works.

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fly systems and you


By: Nolan Luckett, Charles Chace, And Ryan Fennessy

how a fly system works
How a fly system works

The average theater counterweight is used for the movement of scenery and other objects from people to the main curtain. The rope system uses counter-weights to counter act the weight on the pipes to allow the fly operator to work it quickly and efficiently. To make the pipes go down you would pull on the rope labeled C while if you wanted to make the pipes go up you’d pull on the adjacent rope on the weight side.

A) Ropes

B) Connectors(connects the ropes to the weight system)

C) RopeD) Metal rods (Holds the weights in place)E) SpacerF) WeightsG) Lock mechanismH) Metal ring (Ensures the lock doesn’t slip)I) Pulley

parts of the fly system
Parts of the fly system
  • Orchestra enclosure line set – This is a special type of system flown in to allow more sound to get to the audience, usually some sort of flown in roof to go above orchestras
  • Fire curtain – a special curtain that comes in during a fire to ensure toxic fumes don’t reach the audience, and instead vent out of the top of the stage
  • Pipes – the actual pipes that are connected to the fly system that you connect things to
  • Arbor – This is the part of the fly that holds the counter weight pigs
fly system infrastructure
Fly System Infrastructure
  • Fly Tower- The large volume above the stage where the line set battens are flown as well as whatever load they are carrying.
    • In a full size fly tower, the tower is preferably 2.5 times as tall as the proscenium to allow a full-height set piece to be stored completely out of view to the audience.
  • Grid- Permeable working surface present at the top of many fly towers
    • Provides access to many stage rigging components.
  • Loading Gallery- Catwalk vertically placed above the fly gallery
    • Used to add/remove pigs from arbors and store unused pigs
  • Fly Gallery- Catwalk running from the proscenium wall to the upstage wall
    • Usually proscenium height and contains a pin rail (or locking rail). Provides an elevated side view of the stage and works as a mid way loading gallery.
fly system infrastructure cont
Fly System Infrastructure cont.
  • Pin Rail- large-diameter steel tube with vertical holes that accept belaying pins
    • Used to tie hanging pieces of equipment up and out of the stages way
  • Locking rail- steel bar where the rope locks of the counterweight system are located
    • Extends from the proscenium wall to the upstage wall, locks ropes in place
  • Arbor Pit- trough at the edge of the stage
    • Provides counterweight system additional vertical travel for a counterweight system’s arbors, pit can compensate for height limitations of a fly tower.
safety on the fly system
Safety on the fly system
  • Safety in any part of a theater is paramount but especially so when working on flys.
  • The reason for this is because you are controlling a pipe that most likely has hundreds of pound of inertia and because the pipes stretch across the entire stage you have to know if something is in the way at all times
  • Another problem is that actors, who have minimal knowledge of the technical aspects of the theater (Characteristics resemble that of a turkey, gobble gobble), can wonder under pipes that are being brought in endangering themselves quite easily (also have been known to look up and drown during a light drizzle).
  • When adding lights the safety cable is the first thing connected to the line and when taking them off the safety cable is last to ensure the lights cant ever fall to the floor
how to weight a fly rail
How to weight a fly rail
  • To weight the fly system you’d use the weights that we have. You add these to the weight arbor in our fly system.
  • We have two different weights, the large 25.58lb weights and the small 12.78lb weights.
  • The large weights are referred to as “full pigs” and the small weights are referred to as “half pigs.”
  • Before you do ANYTHING! It is important that you yell. “CLEAR THE RAIL!” and wait to get the “rail is clear” response, if a weight is dropped from the grid and hits someone they WILL NOT Sthe weight holds and clamp them up with plenty of space to maneuver a pig under.
how to weight a fly rail cont
How to weight a fly rail cont.
  • ALWAYS use BOTH hands and try not to add to much weight.
    • If you add to little, the arbor will be difficult to move from where you can add/remove weights, if you add to much, the arbor will be difficult to keep where it needs URVIVE.
  • Once the rail is clear, unscrew to be to remove the access weight.
  • Once the weight is added, lock down the weight hold and yell, “LINE SET … WEIGHT CHECK!” someone at stage level will check the weight and announce if it is heavy, light or yell back, “LINE SET … AT WEIGHT!”
adding or taking off of the line sets
Adding or taking off of the line sets
  • To add or remove equipment from the line sets, you’ll need to bring the line all the way in to the ground.
  • This is two-fold, the first being that it allows you to actually reach the line to do what is needed but also takes the weights up to the grid.
  • Before any lamp fixtures are taken off or put on, the line set should be tied off. This is important because the locks on the fly rail only have a weight tolerance about 30lbs (even more important for taking a fixture off as the heavy end of the weight system is up in the air).
  • If not tied off the line could slip through the lock sending the pipe or weight arbor running in whichever direction is heavy.
how to fly flats
How to fly flats
  • First, you have to prepare the flat to be flown.
    • Measure in 3 inches from the sides on the top and the support in the middle. Drill a hole large enough to feed a steel wire through each hole
    • Attach a cleat to the inside bottom support to attach a wire
  • Next, attach two equally measured wires to the pipe and cleats on the flat
    • Feed cables through pre drilled holes in flats, loop and crimp the ends and attach to the cleats with a carabineer
    • Loop and crimp the other end of the cables, attach looped ends to the pipe by wrapping a chain around the pipe and clipping them together with a carabineer
  • IMPORTANT- go to the fly gallery and load the weights at halfway
    • The first half up the weight will be equal with the pipe, the second half up the weight of the flat will be on the pipe as well so it is important that the counterweight is added there.
flying people
Flying people
  • Flying people is very difficult due to the safety precautions that must be taken.
  • Equipment used when flying people includes
    • Fiber Rope, should be polyester
    • Steel rope, should have 6 cores of 19 wires surrounding a central core of 19 wires
    • Pulleys, both for fiber rope and wire rope
    • Shackles
    • Harnesses
pendulum rig
Pendulum Rig
  • A basic pendulum rig is set up like this...
    • At an offstage position, tie one wire pulley to the line set
    • Tie another wire pulley to the over stage focal position of the fly
    • Feed a wire through that is long enough to reach from about 3 feet off the stage floor, through the pulleys, to about 6-7 feet past the offstage pulley
    • Attach a fiber rope to the end of that wire rope
    • TA DA!! There is your pendulum rig. Attach an actor with a harness and however hard you pull on the fiber rope is how hard your actor will be lifted from the ground. The best part is the audience will not even see you.
the lemont fly system
The Lemont fly system
  • At Lemont high school our fly system has 32 pipes, two of them being double arbors. Each pipe is rated to hold 1500lbs and the two double arbors are rated to hold 3500lbs
  • We have a full fly tower, meaning with a 24ft proscenium we have a 60ft grid ceiling
  • We have every major component of a fly system
    • Grid, loading gallery, pin rail, ect…
fly terminology
Fly terminology
  • These are important because without them you may not completely understand what is occurring in the theater.
  • “Clear the rail”- This means that people are re-weighting the line sets and you should be about thirty feet away to be safe from falling weights
  • Line set…Coming in –Means the specifically called line is coming down
  • Line set…Going out – Means that the specific line is going up from where it was
  • Guillotining – The act of bringing in the curtain straight down or up
  • Traveling – Bringing in the curtain using the travel lines meaning it comes in from the left and right to center and vice versa
  • Electrics – Refers to the line sets with lights
  • Line set # - Refers to the actual position of line set labeled from right to left (in our theater)