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Peter Loughran
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Ontario, Canada
2683 Posts

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Seriously that is what this post is all about.

Im here today to discuss the pros and cons of having an illusion/prop breakdown for travel.

Depending on the builder/designer, most builders and designers will build an illusion with the intent of at least some of it breaking down for travel. Lets face it unless you have a running show in Vegas, a cruise ship or, travel with an 18 wheeler, most of us illusionists need to be mobile and have illusions breakdown.

What some builders/or customers requesting breakdown ability must realize is that the more you have an illusion breakdown the harder it is to keep the prop rigid when set up. Also props that breakdown a lot will endure a lot more stress, and wear and tear around the points of assembly/dis-assembly. It will also create more SET UP time and TEAR DOWN time for the performer.

Now with that in mind there are other factors at play. For instance, having the prop breakdown will do many positive things for the performer:

1. It will become more mobile if needed
2. It will fit into a much smaller ATA flight case which will in turn take up less room in the vehicle
3. It will take up less room in storage
4. It will be cheaper for the customer to initially receive the product since shipping costs will be considerabally a lot lower.
5. An illusion that breaks down can appeal to the masses for the reasons above and will have a much better re-sale value.

Now there is a point at which to draw the line. Having a prop come apart is fine, but too much overkill just to say lessen the ATA case size by only a few inches, but creating another 5-10 minutes of set up time and less durabilty might be a poor trade off. So you must consider all of the factors when building an illusion or having one custom made for you.

Remember if you are a performer who has an 18 Wheeler Rig, and can just roll your props in and out of the truck, or you have the luxury of performing in a permenant show at a theatre, conisder that you have the option of not breaking a prop down, but having one that breaks down somewhat will give you those pros mentioned above that can help you sell the prop at a later date when you are finished with it.

The bottom line is to have the builder/designer create something with a happy medium, something that can break down to engage the pros above but to lessen the cons of wear and tear and set up time etc. So the next time you are having something built, remember to consider these factors. Also talk to your builder if you are ordering something, and find out how the prop breaks down if possible, and in some cases, you can request that certain parts be left solid and the case re-designed around the new breakdown, in order to suit your space, and time requirements.

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