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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Vanishing Air Conditioner (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Eric Leclerc
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Hi

I have been asked by a company to make an Air Conditioner vanish on stage for the media as part of a promotion they are having.

I am thinking of building it like a vanishing radio/birdcage. Any tips or hints? I have never built anything like this before so any input would be appreciated. I will have 2 assistants helping me "lift" it off the table so the release mechanism dosent have to be THAT smooth or effective as I will have plenty of time to colapse it as I am "placing the cloth properly"

Any input would be appreciated...Thanks gentlemen
hugmagic
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You are on the right track. Get the dummy shell from the company (no guts inside or weight), then make it to vanish as you suggested.

One idea is as you move forward with the "air conditioner" the cord drops out. You yank on the cord as your assistants drop the cloth to the floor.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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NFox
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Are we talking a window air conditioner or one of those big outdoor ones. I'm guessing the former, because you are lifting it, but I just wanted to be sure. So far, your thinking is right on the money. You have picked the most effective solution to the job at hand. This should be a great piece for you when it's done.

Richard, that cord idea is brilliant. It creates a perfect beat for the vanish.

Nick Fox
"Obscuring Reality"- Gone but not forgotten...

FoxIllusions.com
Eric Leclerc
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Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice I like the cord idea......as they lift it off the table the cord is seen dangling from under the cloth all the way to the floor... I grab hold of it, maybe even a little funken ring comedy by play with the "live" end. Then it vanishes and I am left holding the cord.. Beauty....thanks!

Ok... Now I feel my only problem for this project, is making the "joints" look whole. You know? The 3 panels that will hinge down need to look like ONE big box, not 3 panels. And no matter what solution I try to come up with to make the 3 panels look like "one" box I am seeing cracks.... thanks for the input guys!

(so yes it is a window air conditioner) But the beauty of this effect is that AC's are all different in appearance, size, and colour. So there is no standard, you know?
sethb
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If the corners were painted flat black, would that help? Or if the corners weren't actually square -- suppose the sides were recessed in a bit, say an inch or two? As you noted, there's no "standard" design here anyway. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
MCM
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Just an idea that may or may not work:

Are you planning to make the noise and blowing air of an AC unit? Then you could "turn it on" to prove it is real. This would require some fans and a noisemaker. If you aren't that close to th audience, you could just pipe the sound into the your sound system.

Again, this might not be practical, but I know the old clunker in my apartment LOVES to make a racket on me.
sb
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Maybe you could start with the unit in an actual window (the window would be at the correct window height, held up by some sort of uprights). As for as where to go with this for the vanish...not sure yet....

Is the company you are working for selling AC's. Would it maybe be better to make their unit appear?

Possibly incorporate a snowstorm into the presentaion??

Change a big giant block of ice into an AC???


As far as your original idea, I like the vanishing radio/birdcage/AC idea. Would you have this built proffesionaly or by yourself?
If making it yourself, you could change the workings a little. This may be easier to and less expensive to construct than a normal vanishing "thingy" and if you only plan on using this once or twice, you may not want to invest as much time or money.

The ACs side walls could go straight down, into the legs of the table (the table would have 2 legs, that go from the front of the table to the back, and not 4 regular legs - but they could be pretty thin if constructed correctly, they would only have to house a thin piece of sheet metal). The ACs sides could be attatched directly to the top of the unit and they would pull the top down to the table top. And the front could hinge down - going back so it is on/in the table top as well (laying underneath the ACs top?). And there would be no back to the unit. You could have a small fan built into the AC and blow some confetti from your hands, to kind of convince them that the unit was actually working.

just some brainstorming....

scott
NFox
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If you want to blow some bits of paper around to prove that it is "real." Just take a DC blower motor and mount it in the front piece. Have one of the switches/knobs complete the circuit and turn the motor on. Then, hold up some pieces of paper to have them blow off of your hand.

As for the seams, why not make the front part overlap the sides slightly so that even if there are seams they won't be facing the audience directly. Or simply "underlap" an extra piece of plastic of a matching color to the sides so that the seams look like normal seams between pieces of plastic, rather than black lines.

Nick Fox

PS: Hooray! My 800th post. I should have a party...or not.

EDIT: I started writing my message before I saw Scott's idea about the confetti. Looks like we think alike.
"Obscuring Reality"- Gone but not forgotten...

FoxIllusions.com
Eric Leclerc
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Nice... thanks for the ideas guys....

I personally don't think I need to prove its real... The promotion is: if you bring in your used or abused A.C. Home Depot gives you a 25$ gift card (because old ones are a nuissance to the environment).. So its not a promotion for a new product....It can be ANY air conditioner.

That being said I was more looking for ideas about it folding down. I am thinking rectangular box, both side panels fall the same way on hinges, taking up the whole load space in the table. Then the front panel falls on top of that. and a black material on tracks slides over everything..Like I said I will have all the time in the world to break it down when my 2 assistants lift it up....

Should the panels be on piano hinges? Should I have a top panel? When the panels fall down do they create wind that makes the cloth move suspiciously? How do the panels hold together prior to the vanish? These were more the answers I was looking for.......

I am defenitaly using the power cord as a convincer though.........
ClintonMagus
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Could the back panel be covered in whatever the tabletop material is? I'm guessing that no one will see the back of the unit, so this would eliminate one step. The same would apply to eliminating the top if you are above the crowd.

The sides and bottom will be held together with hinges. The sides could be held together with semi-strong larger magnets or small neodymium ones that could be easily separated when setting the unit on the table.

Another suggestion - do you really need to vanish the air conditioner, or could it be a really ratty-looking unit set up like a Blammo Box? You could produce a puppy and talk about how you need to take advantage of this offer before the "dog days" of summer.

Still another one - if there is a large enough window unit or a condensing unit shell available, have yourself locked into it and "escape the high prices of inefficient cooling".

Using some Deceptive Steps and a condensing unit shell, be "locked" into the "box", raise it above the steps, and vanish as the sides are dropped, only to appear from the rear of the auditorium.

Amos McCormick
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
sethb
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How about hinging the sides in the middle? Then, with a slight inward push, the sides (and the top) could collapse into the table, followed by the front and then the back, which would have a rear surface to match the tabletop.

Sounds like you need a set of Vanishing Radio plans for starters, then modify them for this. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Eric Leclerc
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Ooooouuu magnets to hold it together.....so simple, yet I hadn't thought of that...good idea... Yes it does sound like I need pland for a vanishing radio dosent it? hehehe

ok so back panel with same colour as tabletop is a good idea...just makes it harder to build (more layers to fit in that table)

I think this project will be more than possible... Ok so what about the cloth? Is it better to have a WHOLE woden frame in the cloth? A piece of hard cardboard? Only 2 sticks that make up the front and back or 2 sides? I am thinking the cardboard is the better option..
sepaternoster
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This trick has some interesting problems to be worked out. Eric, I'll send you my ideas in a PM and let you decide how (and if) to filter it for public display.
Seth E. Paternoster
ClintonMagus
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I suggest that you hinge frame in the cloth so that it can collapse, much like a vanishing bird cage when the cloth is whisked away.

Amos McCormick
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
sepaternoster
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Right, use a hinged frame. Now that that's out here, I guess, my PM doesn't need to be so private anymore. (As you can see, I'm new here, so I'm not quite sure where to draw the lines. From the number of posts, I can see that you folks have be around for a while, so I'm following your lead.) Anyway, here's the PM text:

Quote:
The frame presents an interesting problem. I imagine, the assistants would carry a real AC with their hands under the bottom, one person on each side. So, I think you need a full rectangle at the top and some way for the assistants to be able to support it from the 'bottom' of the AC. It's starting to sound like a bunch of lightweight sticks, hinged at the corners, so the thing can fold up. Even folded, the frame will be rather large, and it might take a little time to hide it away. I suppose, it could stay in the cloth.

It might be best, perhaps, if only one of the assistants carries the frame, while the other just follows along, carefully pretending. At the moment of the 'vanish', the pretending assitant is responsible for somehow covering while the other person folds and disposes of the frame?

I'm trying to imagine how the presentation will go. Will you simply pull the cloth off with some big flourish? Clearly, you want to get well away from the table so people forget about it. Let's say "Bob" is supporting the frame, and "Jim" is pretending. Maybe, Jim complains about having the "heavy end". After the bit with the cord (maybe saying something like, "Oh, don't trip"), Jim still manages to "trip" and stumble away, leaving his end unsupported. Would that look magical, or be a give-away? Maybe, you quickly insert your magic wand (or little finger) to "catch" Jim's end? You casually go on to talk about the promotion (or tell jokes), holding your end with only the wand. As Bob begins to sink to his knees under the strain, you yank the cloth?

I'll give some more thought, and I'd be interested hear how it turns out.


I have given it a little more thought. Here's another idea on the presentation. Assuming the cloth is long enough to cover your angles, perhaps, you could instruct Bob and Jim to raise the AC up high, first to shoulder level, then on up, with arms straightened, up over their heads. Their arms and the AC form a sort of arch. Now, playfully at first, you duck down step quickly through the arch. Then, more boldly, you stand directly beneath the HEAVY AC unit. You casualy go on talking about the promo. or whatever, while getting comedic opportunities as Bob and Jim become fatigued. Finally, you pull the cloth (Asrah-ish?)
Seth E. Paternoster
Eric Leclerc
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Ok heres the update on the Vanishing A.C.

The table base is built..I got my panels on hinges ready to go...my "fan grid" is glued on, my knobs are coming on soon... (its a window air conditioner)..tommorow I am going to buy silver trim to cover the edges of the panels coming together.. and get magnets to hold everything in place..

I called Chance Wolf and he gave me a good idea how to cover the edges in a trim design.. I am putting on the finishing touches tommorow...Only the cloth would be left to complete... I hope this looks good.. the segment will be done on live tv..

The beauty of this project is:

-there are ALOT of models of A.C's...so the look can be played with a little thus allowing me to make it look how I think an A.C is supposed to look like.

-Its for a hardware store. If you walk in a large chain of hardware store and an A.C. is displayed, it is generally displayed on a stand made of 2x4's...so that's how I built my table! I think if it was all nice and painted with casters and pretty silver lining it would look out of place..so the stand is so simple and "real" you guys know what I mean?
sepaternoster
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Sounds great! You make an excellent point about the table; I never thought about that. Now that I am thinking about it, I do agree that a polished table would arouse suspicion.

I hope you have some way to capture the T.V. spot for your records. It sounds like a great thing to have when seeking future bookings. Also, it would be really cool if you had some way to get into a web video format so we could all see it. Sorry, no, I don't have any idea how to do something like that. In fact, I'd probably have trouble programming the VCR correctly just tape the thing. Smile
Seth E. Paternoster
sepaternoster
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Building on your insight about the table, does the same apply to the cloth? Perhaps, keeping with the warehouse theme, you could use a tarp, or how about a painter's drop-cloth? Maybe it could be a white cotton or canvas cloth spattered with a few different coloured paints? Somehow, I'm seeing a Jackson Pollock thing in my head. Smile
Seth E. Paternoster
RicHeka
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A while back I was shopping for furniture at IKEA(The Scandanavian Furniture store).
I noticed a Television set sitting on a shelf at one of their Room display's.
It looked so REAL.Yet when I touched it,it moved (it was made of plastic)..it only weighed a few ounces!
I would investigate and see if any company makes a AC display proto-type.It is amazing how real they can make these thing's appear.
Imagine having a feather light real looking 'Air conditioner'that(with a little collapsible injenuity) you could cause to vanish with a large Devil's Handkercheif.
Rich
Eric Leclerc
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I tried tracking down a fake laptop once for my competition close up act. I found one online, it cost me 80$!!!!!! It was a pretty good effect, the floating laptop!!!! The act didn't go over so well, though..hehe.....I wonder how easy it would be to modify a fake tv for vanish?

This is my last post for 2 weeks, (much to a lot of people's delight!) hehehe Bangkok is waiting, see you all soon..thanks for the help!

Eric
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