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Obssessed Haunter
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Discussion Starter #1
I've breifly asked this question before, but thought I'd revisit it.....

I want to have someone (real hopefully) on a platform near the ceiling. Then have them jump down and look like they are floating to the ground.

heavy duty pulleys with a counter weight ?

Has anyone done this before ?
I'd like to know and problems anyone my have had with this.

I would like the people going thru the haunt to see this person.... then the person steps off and floats down.
I'm thinking that with a couple pulleys, and a counterweight that is just slightly less heavy than the person...... this might accomplish it ? Put a harness on the person ?

Any thoughts ? I've wanted to do this for several years but just haven't delved into checking it out very thoroughly ! :D
 

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Blaberus craniifer
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Hi Lynn, When I was working in a Haunted House, one year I suggested we actually hang someone from the ceiling with a rubber mask to look like a dummy and then have the hangman reach out at the people. Since it was my suggestion, they volunteered me to be the one hanging..... It was a great success and caught so many people off guard as they didn't expect a real person to be hanging from the ceiling. The harness I used was something like this Safety Harness. I works very well and supports a person easily. The negative side is this type of harness is designed as a safety harness (not to be suppended for great periods of time..... I'll just say that after about an hour hanging with straps between your legs you do start to get really sore. :eek: ) But in your case, the actor would only be suppended for the short period from the jump to the floor and should not notice any real discomfort so this type of harness might work for your idea.

The problem with your pully/counter weight idea I think would be trying to get the right counter weight. I think if I was to try this, I'd first start with a counter weight of my exact weight (or even a little more) to make sure I didn't come crashing to the floor. I think some sort of electric winch would be a better solution for the lowering of a person.
 

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Lord of the Cemetery
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Pod's suggestion of an electric winch sounds more practical (and safer) than heavy duty pulleys and counterweights.

If a pulley and counterweight system is used, you will almost certainly need to incorporate some kind of braking system or slipping clutch into the mechanism.
 

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I would see how hollywood does it they have done it a 1000 times.also I was at a site that had something like that and I think it was done with a four link type set-up and hydrilics if I can remeber where I saw it I'll post the link. but you could google hollywood FX's and see if they show something.
 

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Obssessed Haunter
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Discussion Starter #5
Hey Daddywoof... if you find that....that would be great.
I'll see what I can find.
I just don't want to put a huge effort into this and then have no one that wants to it because it hurts or whatever excuse they find.... so I really want to research this.

Thanks, keep the thoughts coming..
 

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Insane Genius
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First let me start by saying that this is probably one of the most dangerous ideas I've seen in a long time, falls from height are THE most significant factor in Health and Safety accident figures, and what your talking about is bang up there on the 'asking for an accident' chart...

However, saying this being a climber and an engineer involved in the construction of some huge machines, fall arrest systems and working at height safety are areas I know very well.

The first thing you will need is a harness, now on the plus side you are not talking about an accidental fall, but a controlled decent, so you can afford to go 'cheap' on the harness... let me explain 'cheap'

Harnesses come in a wide range of ratings and costs... the best are designed to work in a situation where there is a significant amount of free fall with a shock loading when the faller gets to the end of the rope... in these situations the harness needs a great deal of strength, and just as importantly it needs a lot of padding to prevent the harness injuring the faller.

Since you are not talking about this kind of fall then you are not looking at the upper end of harnesses.

Another harness factor is the difference between working fall arrest harnesses and climbing harnesses... a workers harness's is there for 'just in case' and its not designed for regular use and for the faller to be suspended for extended periods of time, they also tend to be full body harnesses and support is usually from behind, but with a front support option... climbing harnesses are designed for prolonged suspension, but tend to be sit harnesses without chest support, but you can buy chest harnesses or a good climber can build a chest harness using generic climbing gear..... and support is normally from the front.

OK, So my harness recommendation would be for a full body harness with support from behind, but suitable for prolonged suspension.

Enough about harnesses.... look to spend $150 on your harness.

Next you need your fall arrest system, and there are a wide variety of options here.... and very fer are suitable for use without extensive training.... THE most important thing to remember about descenders is that the anchor point needs to be completely solid, no descender is worth a damn if its anchor is insufficient to support the load... and then some.

At the cheapest end of the scale you have a simple climbers descender, maybe a figure 8 or stitch plate, these will need a second person to control the decent and that person will need some experience... think of this as a kind of abseiling but the abseiler is not in control of their descent.... don't forget the rope, descenders are designed to be used with climbing rope... you can get black climbing rope.

At the other end of the scale you have descent blocks, these are blocks that include a wire and when someone falls it plays out the wire slowly so they fall in a controlled manner, don.t confuse the descent block with the fall arrest block which will lock like a typical inertial seatbelt in a car.

Another point on ropes/wires etc is that decent blocks tend to use wire, whilst climbers use rope, and we tend to use 3 kinds of rope.

Static Rope.... this is thick rope designed for abseiling it tends to be either white or black and is designed to not stretch

Dynamic Rope, Double, this is the same thickness as static rope, but has a certain degree of stretch designed into it so when a clibler falls it will absorb the shock of the fall

Dynamic Rope, Single, very similar to double rope, but its thinner, single rope is prefered by technical climbers as its more flexible and because they can double up their protection by using two separate ropes at the same time...

Ive by no means exhausted the issues and options here, hopefully Ive given you enough info to make a consideration about whether you really want to do this... if you still find the idea attractive, then I would suggest you go to the local climbing centre and take a few lessons in climbing and abseiling, this way you will get to learn a lot about teh harnesses and the necessary saftey techniques.
 

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Insert Witty Comment Here
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Make sure you wear the harness properly or ya might damage the family jewels.. :eek:

How high is the ceiling in question?
 

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Insane Genius
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Make sure you wear the harness properly or ya might damage the family jewels.. :eek:

How high is the ceiling in question?
yeah..... I've got some horrific pictures of the results otherwise.... and its not just bad news for men, when wearing chest and full body harnesses women also have to take some care
 

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Insane Genius
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The ceiling is only 11 ft or so..... so the person would be around 5 ft off the ground. Not a huge fall, but enough to get hurt. Also enough that if this is managable then the effect would be great.
The majority of fall from height injuries happen at heights below 6 ft, here in the UK its a requirement for all heights/drops above 3 ft to be made safe from falls using barriers.

The person concerned will be trusting their health and maybe even life to someone else or a piece of machinery.... how much are you prepared to spend to ensure that this person is not going to suffer injury, how expensive is too expensive?

Someone said earlier in this thread that you should find out how movies do it, well they do it using skilled stuntmen, and they use top flight equipment that's regularly tested and inspected by qualified professionals.

Yes it probably will be impressive if you pull it off, but this is not your average prop hack that if it fails then the worst that's going to happen is you have a broken prop, or get a minor 110VAC shock... get this wrong and you could shatter someone's femur and watch them bleed to death from a severed femoral artery... so if you really want to do it then you need to do it with absolute safety in mind.... and that means cutting no corners.
 

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Obssessed Haunter
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Discussion Starter #11
Don't think that I haven't thought about all the possiblities, and I don't take lightly the idea that someone could get hurt. I guess at this point I an just asking the question on possible ways that this could be made to work.
I do work at a place where safety is top of the priority list.

OK so... in saying that.....
I will stop on this one as I don't want anyone to think that we are wreckless and not considerate of our actors.
Guess I shouldnt ask a question if it could be dangerous ?..... Just asking....
 

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Insane Genius
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There is nothing wrong with asking the question especially if it has a potential to be dangerous, and I've tried to answer it the best I can with as much technical and graphical detail as I feel you need to decide if you really want to try this.

Yes it can be done, but it should not be attempted without a complete understanding of the risks, the measures required to minimise the risks, the costs involved, and indeed without a certain degree of training.

However.... my personal feeling are that the costs and training required to make this a safe exercise are higher than you envisaged, that's why I'm asking how much you are prepared to pay and what kind of time you want to invest in this... if my comments have put you off because you realise that its going to be expensive then that's good, likewise if you feel that now knowing the potential costs you still want to do it then that's good too.

HOWEVER, if you feel you want to try this with some traditional haunter home made rig then you are on your own.
 

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How about a conveyor belt? You wouldnt be able to get the height of a rigging, well at least not safely. But you could have something that is inclined maybe 20 degrees and travel distance could be fairly far if needed and budget was there. Camouflage it correctly so only a portion of the foot is hidden, and lighting to focus more on the upper area of your actor. Could be a cool effect!
 

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Lord of the Cemetery
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Sorry if I'm a little sensitive.... Just felt like I was getting yelled at. I'm better now. :)
Hi Lynne.
Phoenix wasn't getting on your case, just pointing out some of the potential pitfalls (no pun intended) involved in this kind of effect. I work as an engineering consultant involved in the maintenance and construction of cranes, so working at height is part and parcel of my everyday life, anything from 6 ft to over 120ft straight down. Everything Phoenix says I will second. That's why I have been reluctant to actually make anything but the most basic of suggestions, as if an accident occurred from advice I had given I would feel (rightly or wrongly) at least partly responsible. (ps I have those photo's Phoenix mentioned and they ain't nice):eek:
It IS right of you to ask the question though. After all this is what HF is all about, the exchange of ideas and advice. If that advice can help us build a better prop, thats great. If it can help us to make an informed choice and prevent a costly mistake or accident, all the better.
 

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Then the "Farm Boys" Step in..

"We'll just knock a hole in the wall and drive our tractor right up tight to the outsde of the building, stick the manure bucket through and away we go! hydralically! Up/down."
Reading all the bad scenarios jogged my memory about what a young, somewhat "loopy" young man told me , he was dressed as the "Evil Clown" in an outdoor haunt.
"I would scare the hell out of people by jumping down out of the tree, landing right infront of them!"
How far were you falling?
"About 25 feet."
And you didn't get hurt doing this?
"Naw, I was high, smoked-up."

The other scary thing he and his friend would do was to run up behind a parent walking with their small child and grab up the kid on the run and then keep on running!

..and some haunt owners wonder why their business might not be seeing as many patrons as they once did?
Not that many miles from here , during those JC Haunted House years a tractor's hydralics were sent through a window of an old house and was the mechainical-motive force to make the "Crushing Wall" effect move and work!
Imagine that! A real haunted house torturing /killing device for your customers to enjoy!??
 

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Obssessed Haunter
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Discussion Starter #19
Now theres an idea ! Run our tractor right thru the wall !!! hehe JK.

The more I think about this, the more I KNOW that I probably couldn't get any volunteers to do this job for any more than an hour or so anyway... so, I'll probably scrap the idea.
But I do still think that it would be such a cool 'look'. Vampires floating down from a platform ! WOW !
 

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If you really like the idea how about making a prop that has the look you want and then doing the same idea.then if there is a fall or chaffing then you only had to deal with the puppet union!
 
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