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17 Posts

Profile of kboudy
I've been hoping for some stage thread advice. I'll be performing an illusion in which a light object (<10oz) floats around the stage and out over the heads of the audience. During this portion of the show I will be using low light, but at other times in the show regular stage lighting. So it needs to be invisible in both lighting conditions. I've been experimenting with a nylon thread called Sulky which performs well but is not invisible during the parts of my show which require regular lighting. I purchased a spool of Kevlar yarn, but it was impossible to separate it into long enough strands-as I need each strand to be at least 50ft for my utility.

I've heard talk of fine tungsten wire & also "Spectra Fiber". Does anyone know where to obtain them, or long separable strands of Kevlar?

If anyone has thread information or brainstorming it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much,
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Inner circle
Tucson, AZ
1911 Posts

Profile of chmara
Thread may not be your problem as much as lighting. Backdrop notwithstanding -- a proper lighting rig can cover a lot of sins.

Sulky (a thread made in Germany) has been used -- but it is backdrop sensitive and requires "broken pattern" or very busy backdrops for the full length of the performance area where the thread may flash.

One method that was developed by Blackstone used red lighting (sub rosa - forgive the pun) into the eyes of the audience to dilate pupils and throw off eye focus.

Many I have seen use various blue spectrum stuff work OK too -- BUT - the angle must be from overhead (0 degrees or 12 o'clock) giving the magician's face some dark shadow. This is to prevent string flash on a bounce angle from front lighting < sort of like the symbol with lights at top, audience at bottom.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ

C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
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New user
Germany / I now live in LV Nevada
32 Posts

Profile of illusionbuilder
I have some very very thin tungsten wire ( thinner then a hair ) that would work for what you are trying to do. How much of it do you need ? I can send you some of the wire free of charge so you can test it out.

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Inner circle
4574 Posts

Profile of silverking
Gregg is dead on with his post.

The thread can only be seen by the audience in two different ways.

1) Front light hits the thread and reflects back whence it came, which is out front, where the audience is sitting.....of course they then see it.

2) In shadow profile from back light. In other words, light from the rear or sides changes the contrast enough that the thread and backdrop are no longer of equal contrast, and the thread is seen standing in relief from the backdrop.

A split pattern backdrop (with the pattern going the same direction as the thread) can help in case #2.

Also, side lighting CAN work as long as the lighting fixtures are all upstage of the thread, and their levels don't impact the contrast issue in a negative fashion.

But down light can definitely work well and give the fewest problems, perhaps slightly upstage of the thread so as to not cause a top reflection visible from the balcony.

I think it's important to remember that, when using thread effects, there really is NO such thing as "normal lighting".
The lighting requirements for the thread portion of your show will impact your entire lighting hang.
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17 Posts

Profile of kboudy
Wow! So thankful for the time you all spent considering this & replying! I had done a forum search on stage thread, which is where I heard about tungsten wire & spectra fiber.

The tricky thing with my float is that the object actually goes way out over the audience... so the background behind the thread is not (in any practical realistic way) in my control, it's the theater's ceiling. The lighting, of course, is. And I appreciate the education.

The thread will be over the audience's head for the entire show, even though there'll only be five minutes that where the threads are actually in use. Far from ideal, I know Smile.

It's a computer controlled float system that I've put most of last year into. It moves the object so beautifully....I'm committed to getting the invisibility problem kicked as best I can. [Note/disclaimer: I became aware of Bogunia's system after beginning to work on this - I can only imagine that his uses a similar method, though mine is designed for slow, precise "floatations", whereas his seems to produce a fantastic fast "flying" effect. I'm not planning/trying to market mine.]

Conclusion from a bit of a ramble: Since the ceiling/backdrop is not within my control, I'll play with lighting & thread type as much as I can.

LOVE the idea of shining red light into the audience's eyes, Gregg - thank you.

IllusionBuilder - that is so very generous of you to offer to send me a tungsten wire sample - thank you! Will message you & take you up on that.

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New user
66 Posts

Profile of jcmazzolado
It is amazing how important lighting is for these types of effects. Thanks for the tips, I've been struggling for a while with how to light my "dancer"
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