Author Options:

Prop Help!! Answered

Hi, I am working as a crew member for the musical Little Shop of Horrors. We need to trigger a confetti blast, a strobe and a sound clip to play with an 8th of second of each other. I was thinking of using a paintball gun (without paint balls) hooked up to a solenoid (or motor with a cam) linked to a computer controlled relay. The plan would be is to use a some wading to launch the confetti out of the gun and have the strobe only blink once right as the sound was triggered. Also we are not allowed to use real pyrotechnics because the madison fire department sucks (safety first, i know). So I guess we could use ether a paintball gun, or an air compressor that is located off stage with a really long line. Also it needs to all fit on a cart the size of a bed side table. So, how should we control them? Computer controlled relay or something else? Also if possible we would like to make the whole thing go off remotely. Either using RF or inferred. Worst case scenario is a small wire that singers/dance wont trip over and die. All suggestions and comments are welcome!! Please comment with any ideas no matter how simple of difficult!! Thanks in advance.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Joe Rowley


There are a number of people out there who build compressed air cannons as part of their Halloween display. one of these would certainly do the trick as far as sound was concerned and I think it would be adequate as a confetti shooter.

Is there a way for you all to generate enough compressed air, stored in something that could release it in a burst all at once? That would eliminate the pyrotechnics. Confetti is normally shredded/cross (little pieces) shredded paper or finely shredded paper (longer, thin pieces). It should be light enough not to drop to the ground like a rock though, or you loose the effect :-) Crepe paper works good....but there goes the budget I suppose.

Yeah, we could use a C02 tank from a paint ball gun or a t-shirt gun as kiteman suggested. Thanks for the info about confetti. Thanks Joe Rowley

I guess you're trying to recreate an explosion?

Why not use a t-shirt gun, filled with fluffed paper (scraps of paper put dry in the blender)? I think the commercial ones have electrically-controlled valves already, which will make life easier.

The strobe can just be a camera-flash. Borrow a big studio flash, and wire it in parallel with the t-shirt gun so that one switch sets both off.

For the sound-clip, why not get hold of a really big speaker? If you wire that in parallel as well, then the single pulse of current from switching on the whole thing should make the speaker just go thump, giving a nice bowel-felt infrasonic pulse to mimic the pressure-wave of an explosion.

Good idea. I think I will build a one that uses a bike pump and have an electric controlled valve trigger it because I need a specific sound clip to be played (solar eclipse sound effect what ever that means) with a large strobe. We need what they call an audience blinder. It is really dark then bang!!!!! Flash of light and confetti everywhere. Thank you very much!! Thanks!!!!!!!!!!! Joe Rowley

Are CO2 confetti cannons being considered "real pyrotechnics", and what is your theater's budget? I'm not sure if a paintball gun could spew out enough confetti to be visible from the house. We used confetti cannons last year at my school's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the cannons shot confetti far and wide...we are still finding bits stuck in battens that are 20 feet up.

We are not allowed light a cigarette in the school even if it is theatrical. They dont mind use blowing off are heads as long as we are doing it without a flame. Budget-- I will through in $50 so grand total of about $150 to $100 dollars if possible. Any suggestions on confetti, just paper or cut up old lens or something like that. Thanks so much! This means a lot to me. Thanks Joe Rowley