Production Estimates

production-estimate-1My form and process for estimating the labor and material cost of each show.  Each project gets its own line, and is detailed on a separate project page.

production-estimate-2The building and load-in process for each project is detailed, along with each material.



Tracking Table on a Curve

NB-tracking-tableThe table had to track downstage and pivot at the same time.  Two of the legs of the table were each in a separate track.  The motion was driven by the leg in the curved track, and the other leg travelled straight, acting as the pivot point when it reached the end of its track.



Curved Flats

GGR-restaurant-d0To build these curved restaurant walls, the horizontal framing pieces were routed at the curve into 3/4″ plywood.  Since they only curve in one direction, the vertical framing pieces could be straight.

GGR-booth-wallsThe crowns of the walls were curved in two directions, so a series of ribs had to be cut, each at unique sizes, and then a flexible lauan skin curved across each plane.



Ascending Railing

ascending-railing-d1This railing rose up out of the deck for a scene, the descended back into the floor for the rest of the show.  It was supported by a custom-built scissor lift, and powered by a pneumatic cylinder.


The railing in its extended position.


The scissor lift when the railing was up.



The top of the railing was flush with the floor and completely hidden from the audience when not in use.




Blood Effect in Pool


As the actor lied there, the blood was pumped into the pool in the corner underneath his body.  This was done using a hand-operated diaphragm pump operated from offstage.


The audience could see the blood fill the pool over the course of about 10 seconds.

Pride and Prejudice



A rotating Victorian dollhouse with doors on each side that open to reveal a room.



Custom square turntable platform built to be operated from below the stage using the same cable-driven style that Round House’s stock turntable uses.


Tracking Piano

tracking-piano-d1This pianoforte had to track onstage remotely, with the hardware hidden as much as possible.  The casters I attached to the bottom of the legs had one leg of the frame that extended down into the track to function as a knife.  The rest of the hardware was hidden below deck.



The Talented Mr Ripley


The large ceiling unit (12’x44′) was rigged to hinge up away from the stage at a key moment in the show.






Round House has no in-house fly system, so the entire counterweight system for the ceiling was custom rigged in place.



HOW TO: Create a Rain Effect on Stage

For this rain effect on stage, the designer wanted a thin curtain of water falling like rain across the entire width of the stage just in front of the upstage wall of the set.  This is a classic rain curtain system: holes drilled in a pipe hung above the stage and a trough below the pipe to catch the water after it fell.  However, this system overcame 3 obstacles that have challenged me in the past:


  1. As the pipe fills with water, the rain starts at the holes closest to the source. To solve this, instead of hanging the PVC with the holes at the bottom of the PVC, they along the side, facing downstage.  This allows the water to fill the pipe halfway up along the entire length before it can escape any of the holes.
  2. The sound of the rain completely drowns out the dialogue of the actors. By covering the trough with a fiberglass window screening, this dramatically muffled the sound of the rain hitting the water and trough below.
  3. The splashing of the rain soaks the deck and nearby scenery. The same window screening used to soften the sound also prevents over-splash.  The drops of water are dispersed when they hit the screen.

Continue reading “HOW TO: Create a Rain Effect on Stage”

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Photo: Danisha Crosby

The Picture of Dorian Gray, designed by James Kronzer, directed by Blake Robison.  This show was staged on a double revolve turntable: a 18-foot-diameter inner turntables surrounded by a 6-foot-wide (30-foot-diameter) donut turntable.  The inner three columns shown above were mounted to the inner revolve, and the outer two columns were mounted on the outer revolve. Continue reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

Lightbox Grids


The producer for this event wanted a grid designed in structural pattern that was built around lightboxes already in Creative Visions’ stock. I designed several different variations in 3D in SketchUp, and the producer decided on the above modular design.

Due to time constraints and shop limitations, I outsourced the production of the grids to a steel fabrication shop. Because I would not be on site during the production, my drawings had to be clear and detailed enough to stand for themselves.


The above drawing details the construction of each modular panel.


This drawing details the brackets that would attach our lightboxes to the grids, and the fastening method.


This drawing shows the construction of the feet.


Because of the modular design of the grids, two different foot styles had to be built, one that would allow each grid to stand alone, and one that would allow another grid to attach directly beside it. The auxiliary feet and couplers also allowed the secondary grids to pivot up to 30° up- or down-stage.


The final grids on stage during the event, using the couplers and auxiliary feet allowing an arrangement of three sets of three grids each.

All images on this page © 2009 Creative Visions, Inc.

Financial Aid Banquet


For this university’s financial aid campaign, Creative Visions was hired to create a unique final banquet. Based on concepts from the producer of this event, I created this stage design and rendering in 3D in SketchUp. It incorporated backlit images from the fundraising campaign, providing unity to the overall event.


The 3D model and renderings I was able to provide the client gave them a clear picture of how the event would look, and a quick comparison of the two shows how close my rendering was.


This is a floor plan of the event, showing production gear and seating layouts.


A closer shot of the lightbox grids on stage.

Elegant Gala


The challenge for this event was transforming this university’s gymnasium into an appropriate atmosphere for an elegant gala.


We hung over 300 feet of truss from 24 chain motors to get all of our production gear in the air.


There were 4 main trusses arranged diagonally spanning each quarter of the room with the main moving light fixtures, two more trusses with four 10k projectors across the outside center to project onto an additional four sections of truss holding 10.5’x14′ screens. One more truss formed a box in the middle of the room to hide the scoreboard.


This shows the intersection of two of the main lighting trusses with one of the projection trusses.


The amount of the ceiling we covered with truss allowed for an extremely flexible lighting option, and independent projection trusses to isolate vibrations from the moving lights.


In addition to the lighting, the entire room covered in black and silver drape. The combined effect of the lighting, projection, and scenic elements effectively transformed the room into an elegant space quite different from the university gym.

Plexiglas Bar


The main components of this bar are aluminum curved truss, frosted clear acrylic sheet, and MDF pedestals covered with a brushed pewter countertop laminate. I was contracted to build this for Creative Visions while working as a freelancer.


The basic shape was specified by Creative Visions, but I designed the components and pieces in AutoCAD. The 1/2″ clear acrylic sheet was cut by a third party CNC, based on the shape I designated, and then frosted by me using a random orbital sander. I built the legs from MDF and covered them with the laminate myself.


The bar was designed to be modular, so it could be used in a variety ways for different shows. Here, it is being used in a serpentine configuration as a seating area.


At smaller events, one quarter of the full bar is sufficient.

Grand Opening Celebration


When the tallest building in the Raleigh skyline was built, the owners and developers hired Creative Visions to execute a Grand Opening Celebration on an empty floor. This view shows the event from the street that night.


The 17th floor was completely empty at the time, and we had to arrange everything from the necessary electrical power requirements to the painting of the interior walls.


To get lighting and scenic elements into the air was a challenge. There were no exposed beams to attach anything to. I had to pre-determine every overhead rigging point and its necessary weight rating weeks before the event and send the above plot to the building contractors to drill and set each eyebolt into the poured concrete ceiling.


The lights and scenic elements were hung from pipes rigging for the rated eyebolts.


This is one view of the final event, showing the northeast quarter of the room.


This master floor plan details almost every aspect of our production gear for the event, including seating and back-of-house areas.


This shows the southeast corner, with a rear-projection screen built into a custom textile wall, lit by color-changing LED fixtures.

All images on this page © 2009 Creative Visions, Inc.

Floating Buffet Table


The designer of this event wanted buffet tables that would “float”, so I constructed these tables out of clear acrylic sheet, framed with minimal tube steel and hung from above with thin wire rope.


The concept of the tables were inspired by a similar product seen at another event.


First, I constructed a 3D model of the tables in Google SketchUp. I was able to easily modify the model to fit the specifications of the project and event, and eventually arrived at the above design.


I produced a cost estimate for the project, detailing the material and labor costs.


Once the project was approved, I imported the 3D model into AutoCAD and produced construction drawings.


Here is the final product, backlit by some shimmer drapes and magenta light. Unfortunately, the caterer loaded the tables with heavy glass cubes below each of the dishes, and exceed the weight limits I had specified, hence the noticeable deflection in the tables.



This volcano, built for a client’s luau party, is constructed of spray foam on a wood frame. The interior is lit with PARs and red gel, and the top allows fog or haze to escape.


This volcano, built for a client’s luau party, is constructed of spray foam on a wood frame. The interior is lit with PARs and red gel, and the top allows fog or haze to escape.


I put together this proposal for the client with a wireframe 3D model of the volcano and a few research pictures.


We based the sell price of this project on my material and labor cost estimate.


The basic shape of the volcano was constructed of 1×3 pine lumber covered in a mix of 1/4″ lauan and 3/4″ plywood. Tiger Foam® was sprayed over the frame, then carved to create the volcano texture.


After the basic volcano shape was carved, slits were cut into the body of the volcano to form “veins”, and the foam was coated with an elastomeric paint.


The veins were backed with red gel, and PARs were used to back-light the interior of the volcano. At the top, a closed chamber housed the fog machine and another PAR, to create the glowing smoke effect.


Here is the final volcano, with the glowing smoke and veins. Unfortunately, the client’s budget could not afford the labor necessary to develop a better method for hiding the seams between the five sections of the volcano, so they are visible.

Peddler’s Case

peddlers-case-c1For L’Etoile, I created a case for the peddler, Lazuli. The case is covered in faux leather and trimmed in stained wood with straps so the actor could carry it like a backpack. The final version differed drastically from the initial concept, after they played with different styles and methods in rehearsal.


Here the case is pictured in its backpack position.


Inside, the lid was lined with decorative paper and compartments were built to separate his different items.


Lazuli is pictured above wearing his case.

Savonarola Chairs


For Volpone, I built four identical Savonarola chairs. The designer liked the Savonarola style, but wanted to contemporize them to match the look and feel of the overall design.


This chair, by Design Toscano, was one of the research photos showing the traditional Savonarola chair.


This is a designer sketch showing how he wanted to contemporize the style.

Based on the research pictures and conversations with the designer, I drew a 3D model of the chair using Google SketchUp. Drawing the chair in 3D allowed me to virtually construct each piece before cutting a single board.


The most time consuming part of the construction was cutting the legs. Once I gridded, cut, and sanded the template, each leg had to be traced, cut, and flush-trim routed to size. The seat, arms, legs, and back were cut with the same process.


After all the pieces were cut, they were base coated. The legs and seat pieces were then assembled using 3/8″ threaded rod through pre-drilled holes at the joints, capped on each end with acorn nuts.


Pictured here (upside-down) is the chair with the legs fully attached to the seat.


The arms and feet were attached next.


And finally, the back.


The four chairs together, before final paint.


Two of the completed chairs, painted gold to match the set, each with a custom pillow.

Wireframe Umbrellas


For The Illusion, the designer wanted wireframe umbrellas during the rain sequence. I experimented with several options including modifying traditional umbrellas, but building them from scratch was the best solution.


This is the research I was given for the look of the umbrellas.


ch of the 8 spokes was welded to the center rod, then bent down around a wooden jig. The curved pieces were then welded in between each of the spokes to mimic what would be the edge of the fabric.


The shaft was then inserted into a pre-drilled hole in an existing umbrella handle and fastened with two sheet metal screws.


After spray painting them to match the hoop skirts, they were complete.

Pneumatic Recliner


The staging in this production of Tuesdays With Morrie required a recliner that could be remotely adjusted. I removed the existing springs and levers from a cheap recliner we purchased and designed a system of pneumatic cylinders that moved the footrest and backrest into three different positions.


The first cylinder installed controlled the footrest, either fully extended or fully closed.


The next two pairs of cylinders controlled the backrest, one set moving it to a halfway position and the other set moving to the completely reclined position. Here all four cylinders are extended, pushing the backrest to its upright position.


Here is the recliner in its upright position on stage.


And shown here is the chair on stage fully reclined.

Cyrano de Bergerac


At the top of the show, Cyrano approaches the back wall of the stage, which appears to be a chest of drawers. He opens a center door and the action begins.


As the play progresses, more pieces are moved onto the stage and used in scenes, then carried off.


The drawers become benches, platforms, etc. The unit picture above on the right has practical drawers for props, and every other drawer opens to a preset depth so the whole piece becomes a set of stairs actors use to reach the second level.


By the end of the show, the whole back wall is laid bare.


In order to minimize the thickness of the second level platform and the number of legs required, the platform was built from a custom truss grid consisting of 1″ box tube and 3/8″ rod welded between to create the webbing. In the above picture, all the completed trusses are laid out prior to welding the platform structure.


These are some of the modular set pieces: set on edge, they appear to be a drawer or cabinet face, but when pulled out, they become a table or bench.


The stage floor consisted of lauan precut and stained to various widths, and then laid out like a hardwood floor.

The Front Page


PlayMakers’ production of The Front Page included an elliptical stage and ceiling. The upstage wall on this 7/8 thrust stage was curved to match the ellipse of both.


This curved wall consisted of a mainly steel frame, with plywood on the top and bottom of the overall wall.


The face of the walls were covered with 1/4″ lauan, and the trim was applied in 1/2″ MDF layers until the desired thickness was achieved.


In addition the the main center section with windows, there were two sections on either side with doors.


The ceiling piece had a steel frame as well, with a custom truss fabricated for the main support frame. The ceiling was raised into place above the stage using the block and fall method and then dead hung from the grid above the stage.

Banquet Table


This 3 ft. by 8 ft. banquet table was built for Falstaff.


This is the main research from which I built the banquet table. The designer did not want the center two legs, however.


To cut the detail, I built a router jig which lock the board at a set interval, allowing me to plunge-route the cove.


Shown here is the table frame, before the lid was attached.


As I completed the table, I discovered that having the legs this far apart allowed the lid a noticeable deflection, so I had to add additional support underneath.

Steel Bender


At Radford University, I built this steel bender because of a recurring need for steel curves in our scenery. After reviewing two similar machines, I researched, designed, and built this one. The basic concept of this machine is simple. By pressing the steel to beyond its yield point and then rolling it through a series of rollers designed to withstand this force, one can create a slight curve in a steel beam. If this is repeated for several passes, a curve to virtually any radius can be created.


A construction overview of the steel curve-bender, shown in three different orthographic views.


A 3D isometric drawing of the steel curve-bender.


The vertical supports held in place with a wooden jig and clamped down, ready to be welded.


The completed carriage unit.


The carriage unit about to be welded to the vertical supports and base.


The completed steel curve-bender in action, about to bend a beam of 1″ x 1″ square tube steel.


After about 25 passes through the bender and about 45 minutes of work, the steel beam has a diameter of about 3 feet.

Magic Gate


Beauty and the Beast requires a gate to “magically” open and close. This is the mechanism we used to achieve this effect. Compressed air extend the rod of the cylinder, and the attached chain causes the sprocket to turn a fixed distance (in this case, 90°). The pivot point of the gate is attached to the center of the sprocket, so that every time the cylinder extends and retracts, the gate opens and closes.


The structure of the gate was 1″ or 1″x2″ box tube steel, and the rods were 3/4″ conduit (to minimize weight).


The cast finials were tack welded to the conduit.


This drawing shows the different components of the mechanism: blue for the cylinder, green for the angle iron and chain, and red for the sprocket.


This drawing shows the placement of the mechanism in relation to the closed gate.


The scrolls on the finished gate were lauan cutouts. The gate opened offstage, or toward the camera.


A close-up on the mechanism hidden in the rocks at the base of the gate.

Mirror Hutch


As an assignment for my drafting class at Radford University, I was given the task of hand-drafting a construction drawing for the hutch pictured here.


This is the plate I drew for the assignment, an isometric of the overall piece, with details of the spindles, cabinet doors, and trim. The drawing was used in the shop to build this for A Touch of the Poet.


The completed hutch, built by another student from my drawing.