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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Using a 12 high, 8 wide, 40 long trailer for a indoor theather? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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docbarnes
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Have anyone every heard of a person createing an indoor mobile theater out of a large cargo trailer? My thoughts are to create a mobile theater where I can control the sound, lighting and carry large illusions without having to carry them in and out of buildings. I know it sounds somewhat claustrophobic, but with a 10 foot high interior I believe it would feel less closed in. I figure once the lights are lowered people will forget about the closeness of the 8 foot wide space. I do believe 8 feet is wide enough to perform most illusion and maybe some large stage illusions. I have even talked to a fire marshal to find out information on maximum occupancy per square foot.

The idea of pulling up to a house or business and having the guests enter the trailer and experience a true las vegas theater experience is better than hauling everything back and forth. Plus with the use of quality lighting, sound, and some grand illusions that you don’t see in a family’s living room or hotel ballroom the customer would receive an extreme experience.
TheDean
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Interesting... I have a 40 ft mobile theatre built from a freightliner trailer, but it opens-up like a concert stage for special events, corporate events, fairs and so-on. I have used it both as an outdoor stage as well as indoors with phenomenal success.

One time, though I never actually did-it, (WARNING: Speculation Ahead! Untested Theory ahead!) I came up with a business model that I wanted to franchise that included a small portable event-space (Sorta' like what you are talking about, except) designed for the family performer.

A fully self-contained “party trailer”, of sorts.

Again, I NEVER actually DID 'that' part of the business model, but based on the due-diligence and research I actually did-do (as well as the retail part of the business that I actually DID-do...) I figured-out that it would work.

I WOULD be a tight squeeze, but the new "slide-out" technology would fix that!

I'd say, do your homework and then DO IT!

I'd be interested in your findings and experiences.

Good luck!

I am at your service and In His Service,
Dean
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Kevin Ridgeway
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Someone overseas is doing just that exactly. I foregt who, but someone like Luis DeMatos or someone else in Portugal. I'll see if I can track down who it was. They had pictures on thier website of the rig.

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JamesinLA
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Cool idea. I have seen what Dean was talking about where the side of the trailer opens up or folds down (I forget which) and you are left in effect with a stage. I've seen it with traveling bands. You would then have a very long but shallow stage. How does that sound? You just need a set of bleachers.

Jim
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Dave Scribner
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This sounds like a good starting idea but 8 feet wide really isn't very much. I'm assuming you are going to have seating in this trailer and if so, you would have to have an aisle for access, limiting you to only 3 chairs across per row. With a performing stage, you might get 10 rows deep. Is the expense and return worth an audience of 30 people? I think even with a 10 foot ceiling, the feeling of clostrophobia would be very great.

Dean and Jim's idea of having the sides open sounds like a better approach but then you're not using a mobile theatre but rather a mobile stage.

Good idea though and needs to be explored.
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George Ledo
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I agree with Dave -- the seating capacity would be very limited in an 8' wide box. Don't forget you would need to either have a raised stage (limiting your overhead space for illusions, set dressing, and lighting angles), or have a raked house (i.e., raise the seats as you go back), or, preferably, both. If you have a raked house, then you also need a stepped aisle so people can walk up to their seats.

Another issue with visibility is that the seats in a theatre are not directly behind one another; they're staggered so you actually "look" between the heads of the people in front of you, instead of looking at the backs of their heads. With only three seats across, you could not do this. Don't know if you've ever sat in a hotel meeting room for any length of time, looking at the back of someone's head while trying to see a screen or a presenter, but it ain't fun.

If, however, you can slide out the sides of the trailer in the "house" part to provide more seating, you might have something. You could always "pivot" the slide-outs to create a wedge effect instead of just having a square box. Then you could have a center aisle, stepped or flat. This opens up the possibility of entering at the front of the house (by the stage) and having the second means of egress at the back of the house, or vice-versa.

There are lots of "what ifs" here, so by all means explore it. One final thought, though... I'd use a 53' trailer instead of a 40. You need a backstage space too, especially if you're doing illusions.

Good luck and keep us posted!
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TheDean
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Looks like you are getting lots of suggestions! COOL eh'?

The "Slide-out" idea is one I adopted form the Motor Coach industry. I HAVE seen semis that have been turned into touring 'museums and attractions' such as the Rock & Roll Hall of fame (I believe it was them anyway...) and a veterans display, and Elvis museum as well as the Smithsonian.

In these attractions, there was a TON of room for what you are suggestions and hope to do, but we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

You may wish to do a quick “google” and see what you come up with to see more of what I mean.

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Rev Dean
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The Mirror Images
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Check out this site. They have two of them for sale if you want to save time from building it yourself.

http://magicauction.com/Mag_auc/IllusionStageAccessories.htm

Michael
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JamesinLA
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I like the idea of both sides of the trailer folding down and then some arrangement of unfolding panels and perhaps a tent roof that opens the whole space up on each side, so that the width would be equal to the height of both side walls of the trailer.

Jim
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docbarnes
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I checked the expandable semi-trailer before I wrote this question. The expense was too high. I believe the price was around $200,000. Plus, with a eight foot wide trailer you could pull to a house and not block traffic. If you think of the width of a greyhound bus it has four seats across and nice size isle. I believe with a raised stage and seating a performer could be creative with the space. For children shows won’t beanbags work great?
TomBoleware
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So you are talking of doing this for birthday parties, etc, where the numbers would be small?

Sounds like a great idea for children shows. I know of some that have turned an old school bus into a Magic Party Bus. You could have raised seating in the back, chairs with the legs sawed off for the front seats and of course the best seats in the house would be the ones that got to sit on the floor up front.

Tom
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docbarnes
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The focus would be children shows because I believe that is were the high volume business is.
George Ledo
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In your original post you indicated you wanted to present a "a true las vegas theater experience," which implies some serious coin and a large space. However, if you're looking to do kid shows, the scale can certainly be reduced, especially if you come up with an overall theme that creates a clear reason for the seating style (I love the beanbag chair idea) and for the rest of the interior design.

In sizing the trailer, though, don't forget to include space for prop storage, some kind of dressing room, lighting and sound controls, and space for storing or selling any souvenirs. A few years ago I worked on a themed trailer project for Disney, and the thing even had a very small small digital lab so the kids could buy a candid photo of themselves.
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Dave Scribner
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Even with bean bag chairs, you still need to leave aisle room but that would be mobile in this case. As for the Greyhound bus comparison, while there are 4 seats, two on each side of the bus, the aisle isn't wide enough to provide exit mobility which would be a fire marshall concern I believe. Also, a bus has windows on both sides which reduces the clostrophobia feeling.

In addition to all the above comments as far as stage setting room etc, you'll also need air conditioning and ventilation systems. The inside of a trailer gets extremely hot.

I still think it's a good idea though.
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JamesinLA
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Also re: the greyhound bus seating, the pairs of seats are directly behind each other, which wouldn't work in a theater seating arragement, where the seats should be staggered, as has already been pointed out.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Andy Leviss
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You'll have to do some checking, but by transforming it into a theatre, you might be running into some iffy places w/r/t fire codes that apply to public venues. I'm not sure how a portable theatre such as you describe would fit into that, but it strikes me as something that would likely not get approved, due to the necessary lanes of egress and other things that are usually required of such venues. I'm not sure what (if any) exceptions there are for such a vehicle as you describe.
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docbarnes
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I believe you can put mulipal side doors on the side that would take care of fire code issues. If needed the trailer could have four-five doors on each side.

Measure off eight feet and I think you will find that if is more space than you think. An illusion like twiter could be pulled from the back and rotated with plenty of room.
GuySavoie
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Andy's right (as he often is Smile - Rich Lavengood says "Hi!" )

You've got some serious mountains to climb: fire code is a serious one, and there are other practical matters:

* When you add in the theatrical lighting component you mentioned, the interior heat while packed with kids is going to be a health hazard, unless you get some serious (read EXPENSIVE) climate control in play.

* You'll need to make the lighting (bulbs, fixtures) travel safe between shows, so you've got cool down time slowing you down.

* Adding multiple side doors may affect the road legal status of the trailer. You're in "is this roal legal *and* insurable" territory.

* If someone clips your trailer and pierces a side wall, or damages a door, you can't just buy a trailer at Lowes/rent a U-Haul to get to your shows this week; your theater is dark.

* How are you going to power the lighting and sound? just 10 small 150 watt fixtures are going to max out a normal house circuit, not including your sound, or light board, if you're thinking of running a cord. If you're going to generate, it's going to be LOUD.

I'm hardly one to rain on your parade; I think it's a neat idea (maybe not profitable, though.) If you can climb the mountains, go for it.

As an alternative variation, have you considered a travel trailer that is a more traditional "mobile stage" ? There are standards for this, and it is more insurable. You could have an attached event tent with side walls, and set up an intimate theater within (with quick-set risers, for tiered seating, if you chose.) And no one is sitting inside the trailer.

It would take maybe 20 minutes to set up the tent, then fold open the stage in the privacy within the tent. You could then usher in the guests to this new theater on their turf, with your lighting, and closed walls, but they are not seated inside the trailer.

Heck, I'd bet you could do most shows without removing the trailer from the hitch.

Good luck with wherever your endeavors lead.

--- Guy
plainman007
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It IS luis de Matos in portugal who is doing this commercially using a trailer container convertied into an airconditioned 40 seater something. Seems like a nice idea when it can be a permanant set up. No headaches associated with rigging the show up again and again. Hell you can park on las vegas main and compete with the big names. LOL.
silverking
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The back of a trailer in summer is like an oven, and in winter it's like a freezer.

Your climate control power and the plant itself would be massive, as would the fuel to power just the climate control.
The cost of a tractor trailer rig is extremely high.....it would be your single largest investment other than your house.
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