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View Full Version : Ceiling Fan (In a set)



DDirector
02-06-2012, 11:01 PM
We are building a motel scene for a short film for college.
For some of the shots we have a ceiling fan spinning in the room very slowly. (Wobbling is possible too)

Well, since we are building the set, we are buying an old ceiling fan from Goodwill. There is also no ceiling, so what would be the best way to suspend a ceiling fan approx. 8ft off the ground and have it spin?

*We have 2-3 shots where the camera is above the ceiling fan looking downwards through the spinning blades as they spin slowly. We would then jib down as the fan spins.(For one shot)

So, we need the fan to spin and to be suspended. Any tips on the idea?
I don't want this crashing down. Haha

We have an $800 budget. So, we can rent stuff if needed..

swopiv
02-07-2012, 03:43 AM
No ceiling at all? As in outdoors? If that is the case what I would suggest is to use a cherry picker, or goalpost light stand using a chain (so that the strain is not on the power cable). If you are shooting indoors, but with a high ceiling, just use a long chain so that the fan hangs low with space above to get your shots. In either case you will probably need some bracing wires to help keep the fan solid. Making sure the fan blades are balanced will also help this.

DDirector
02-07-2012, 08:38 AM
We are building the set, in a studio... and there is not a lot of room for anything outside of the set. So, it has to be all from above,
Is there something I can do that will spin the fan?

j1clark@ucsd.edu
02-09-2012, 01:33 PM
We are building the set, in a studio... and there is not a lot of room for anything outside of the set. So, it has to be all from above,
Is there something I can do that will spin the fan?

Is your lead character awaiting orders to go "up river"???

Is your camera good enough for 'greenscreening', and compositing in a After Effects motion blurred still shot of the blade on a greenscreen, swashing through the shot?

The biggest problem would be to get atop the shot. You would have to build a scafolding which would support the fan, and whoever/whatever is hanging up there for the camera.
If you don't have a fancy camera, remote control, whathave you, probably setting the camera up, tightening it down, leave it running, remove visible ladders, etc. then clip the
shot down to just what is needed for your take...

The 'ricketiest' shot I've taken was on top of a 15 foot ladder, with a Hasselblad still camera, but the 'angle' was not straight down, but at about a 40-45 deg towards the subjects, but gave enough height to work.

RyanT
02-13-2012, 12:05 PM
Why can't you just have a piece of wood across the room that supports the ceiling fan in the middle, run power to it along the top of the wood and put it on a dimmer. That way you can control how fast it spins.

How wide is the room?

If anything, use a piece of 2x4 across and then screw a 1x3 or another 2x4 onto the top of it vertically. On a show I was on a while ago we rigged a 6k spacelight across a 12' gap using that method. Worked pretty well...

j1clark@ucsd.edu
02-13-2012, 02:26 PM
Why can't you just have a piece of wood across the room that supports the ceiling fan in the middle, run power to it along the top of the wood and put it on a dimmer. That way you can control how fast it spins.

How wide is the room?

If anything, use a piece of 2x4 across and then screw a 1x3 or another 2x4 onto the top of it vertically. On a show I was on a while ago we rigged a 6k spacelight across a 12' gap using that method. Worked pretty well...

The OP has not responded in a while, but I got the impression they wanted to shoot through the fan from the top, down in to the room below. Alternatively, if there's a shot up from the floor towards the ceiling, one would have to build a ceiling for such a shot...

DDirector
02-15-2012, 12:31 PM
Sorry, I was very busy with pre-production meetings and didn't have time to reply.

The room is 16x16'
The fan will be on a controlled dimmer to adjust the speed of the fan.
The shot is from above the fan, with the camera pointing down. As the fan spins, the camera jibs down through between the blades.

DDirector
02-15-2012, 12:35 PM
I have about 2 weeks till the shoot.
I just don't know how to mount it up if there is no roof, just a overhead grid for studio lighting.

Michael Carter
02-15-2012, 03:32 PM
Well, you really can't hang it from a chain as suggested, it will wobble like crazy.

You need to scaffold up something framing-wise to support it. You may be able to build up from your existing set walls. You can get fan mounting poles of various lengths at the hardware store.

I don't see what the confusion is with this - your camera mounting setup, yeah, that's high. But for the fan? Use some 2x4's and bracing, essentially build a sturdy little "bridge" across your set a foot or two higher than the set walls. Brace it so it's sturdy. Chances are you could just run a 2x4 or 2x6 across two 10-foot stepladders, clamped in place (though that's awfully DIY). If this 16' piece of wood sags, get a second piece and screw them into an "L" shape (called a strongback in construction). Hang the fan. How you get a camera above that is another subject (but a long jib would do it - my Kessler would work, with a head on both ends).

Fans aren't super-heavy and the hardware they come with is adequate for their weight; wobble is the bigger problem, but on a very slow speed you're probably going to be fine.

But a jib move THROUGH the spinning blades? I assume they're barely moving and the move will be very fast... I bet you a beer you rethink that on set. Usually when you see that shot in a film, the POV just drops down and passes the plane of the blades.

DadinWestchester
03-10-2012, 02:56 PM
A lighting truss would support a fan with minimum floor space. Pretty solid.

Paul Hudson
03-10-2012, 04:35 PM
HAnk it from speed rail suspended between two high rollers.

Egg Born Son
03-10-2012, 05:42 PM
To protect the camera, stop the fan with a physical barrier like a piece of wood as soon as the camera gets close before passing through the blades. If it is turning slowly an electric motor will stop dead without too many issues but have someone turn it off at the same time or even just before in case the assistant with the plank slips and it starts up again. If you could have it going sufficiently slowly that you could comfortably stop it with your hand that would improve safety, protect your camera and limit sound editing although overdubs will probably necessary for the whole move no matter how you do this.

Sad Max
03-13-2012, 05:30 PM
You're going to be spinning the fan blades fairly slowly for the shot, or they would blur out. And the fan blades are likely going to be close enough to the camera that they will be at least a little bit soft (in terms of focus).

So don't bother with a fan. You don't need the weight, the bulk, the demands of safely mounting it and running power, etc. All you need are three or four more-or-less fan-blade-shaped cutouts -just- stiff enough to hold their shape and attach to a center spindle on which they'll rotate. Make the whole shebang as light as possible - I'm thinking EMT or PVC tubing for the spindle, and perhaps black gator board (or even nice stiff 1/4" black foam core, depending upon the blades' size) for your blades, attach it to a 2x4 laid over a couple of sufficiently high ladders, someone at the top of the ladder spins the spindle with a wound cable and, there's your shoot-through-'em spinning fan blades.

If you want to do it practical, of course.

*edit* this also offers the advantage of your crew, camera, etc at the worst sustaining strikes from lightweight pieces of slow-moving foam core, as distinct from running the risk of getting whacked with full-on for-real fan blades, with a motor behind them. We've all seen that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. We all know what can happen.

David Jimerson
03-14-2012, 11:28 AM
You don't have to run power at all. Just have someone push it.

We did this exact thing just a few days ago. It's mounted to two 2x4s held up with beefy baby stands and wall spreaders.

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