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advice on rigging wall spreaders


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#1 Kris Carrillo

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 02:51 AM

i'm shooting a short film this weekend and i've included some 2x4 wall spreaders in our grip package. i'll be hanging 650w fresnels and 1k's with chimeras off of them. the distance i need to span is 12' and the ceiling height is 11'3". i plan on using two 8' 2x4's with a splicer to get the length i need. i've done some overhead rigging before and i always make sure to use safety chains on all the instruments.

i'm interested in hearing any bits of advice from people who have rigged wall spreaders before. what did you do to make it safe and is there anything i should be aware of. we'll be shooting in a bar, and most of our lighting will be rigged from above.
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#2 Bob Hayes

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 10:00 AM

I try when ever possible to avoid wall spreaders. They are time consuming and dangerous. I usually look for natural hanging points like pipes before going the wall spreader root. Also once you get you wall spreader and hangers and lights in you may find they are in your shot. I try to use pipes supported by high rollers instead. You can get out 8 to 10 feet with a high roller at one end. And just counter balance it.

If you must use a wall spreader use the smallest units you can, safety the units to the spreader, and safety the spreader to the ceiling or pipes above. Sometimes you can add pipe claps to the building to help support the spreader. If the spreader is in a hidden area like the top of a bar you can actually screw the feet into the wall for added security.
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#3 Kris Carrillo

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 12:54 PM

i will be using speedrail and speed c-clamps above the bar where there are beams to rig off, but on the other side of the bar there isn't anything to rig from, so i decided to go the wall spreader route. i will also have hi-rollers with speedrail standing-by, but it will be difficult to keep the stands out of the shot. thanks for the suggestions.
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#4 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 12:59 PM

Don't get two 8' pieces and splice. You can get 2x4's in 12' or 16' lengths, and then cut them down to size.

Most important, you will need to cut a 16" piece of 2x4 to attach as a "foot" to each end of the spreader. When it's up in the air, the length of the feet will be horizontal. The reason to put the feet on is that vertical studs inside a wall are generally 16" apart, so your 16" "foot" gives you a reasonable chance of applying the force of the spreader to something solid. A bit of rubber mat on the outside of the feet always helps.

After you get the spreader in position, hand tighten it. Make sure it's running straight and level; you can knock the wood gently w/ a hammer to position it. Once it's in a good spot, and you can't turn the nut by hand, you should give some more turns w/ a crescent wrench. You will know when it's time to stop when you can practically hang from it, or when you see the wood begin to bow, or when you hear the wall crack.

If you hear the wall crack, it might be best to abort the project.

Chances are, the spreader will work fine. If it's up for a while, YOU MUST CHECK IT, due to the natural expansion and contraction of the wood and the walls.

If you're worried about it coming down, you can try to hide a support out of the camera's view, like a c-stand w/ a cardellini. Or, you could support it w/ a vertical 2x4 that's painted to match the wall, or set dressed in some way. Of course, you should look for places to safety the spreader itself. If you're in a dark bar, they may not care if a couple of nice beefy screw-eyes go into the cieling.

If you have any doubts about it, just take it down and go to lighting plan b, which I'm sure you've already formulated!

Good Luck
J-Ro.
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#5 Kris Carrillo

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 02:26 PM

j-ro,

thanks for the advice. the 16" foots on both ends are a great tip. i also plan on using screweyes to tie off to.

is it really a bad idea to splice two pieces together? the only reason i was planning on doing that was because 8' 2x4's will fit in the bed of my truck, and are easier to transport. but if it won't be as stable or safe, then i'll go with the 12' lengths and cut them to size.
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#6 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 03:37 PM

Splicing isn't the worst idea in the world. I've done it, but only because we've run out of whole lengths of wood. By splicing, you're adding weight and "inelegance" to the rig; somehow or other, you'll be making it tougher to work the rig if you splice it. Of course, there is some loss of structural integrity, though I have no idea how to quantify it.

Other advice: Use a speed square when cutting the 2x4; you'll want the edges nice and straight. It always helps to lay out the entire rig, feet, hardware, and lumber as it will hang, in order to measure where to cut the lumber. If you measure everything seperately, and add everything together, chances are very high that you will cut the spreader too short. Ask me how I know that B)

Edited by J-Ro, 01 June 2005 - 03:38 PM.

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