Arduino-Based Theatrical Props

Computer Programming

I never thought that my computer programming background would come in handy when I entered the theatre world. I'm always so delighted when two of my worlds collide. Here is a collection of props I've created for different productions. A lot more are currently in the pipeline for upcoming projects, and I'm very excited to share them soon.

I’m so proud to be a computer programmer, and believe this unique skill set sets me above others in a creative and collaborative environment. As a creative director, you always want to work with experts, but you need to know how to speak their language. I strive to be as diverse in my studies as possible.

Please enjoy!

An early concept of Ursula's 3D printed shell with color-changing LEDs inside for use in The Little Mermaid.

The inside of the chess board.

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A close view of the chess piece moving.

FS90R Continuous Rotation Micro Servo.

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Magically Moving Chess Piece

 

In the play Harvey, the main character plays a game of chess with his best friend, a six-foot-tall imaginary bunny. The director approached me asking of potential ways to make a chess piece "magically" move.

I love using Arduinos for small projects, and suggested two small FS90R continuous rotation micro servos. These were placed inside the chess board along with some fly fishing line, an 8,000 mAh battery pack, a Wemos D1 Wifi board, and a magnet.

I wrote some code to network the Arduino to the sound playback computer wirelessly using OSC and the private WiFi network. I sent commands to the board through Figure 53's QLab software.

Here are a few GIFs showing the final result!

A distant view of the chess piece moving.

The Little Mermaid Props

 

In a recent production of The Little Mermaid, we 3D printed King Triton's trident. I wrote some code for a Wemos D1 Mini that would be placed inside and connected through OSC commands through the WiFi network. This let me to change the color of the Neopixel LEDs inside the trident from the sound playback computer running Figure 53's QLab show control software. This setup allowed the synchronization between the LEDs and the production's music.

Additional prototypes were presented, but ultimately cut due to time constraints. To the right you can see early renderings of Flotsam and Jetsam's costumes infused with EL wire alongside a test of Neopixel LEDs inside a 3D printed shell for Ursula.

Arduino-based props gave us the opportunity to help bridge the gap between a stage and the magical world we were portraying.

King Triton's trident with some of its LEDs on.

Our 3D printed trident being tested.

Early concept animation of EL wire attached to the costumes of Flotsam and Jetsam.

An early concept of Ursula's 3D printed shell with color-changing LEDs inside.

I get so excited when I have the chance to implement an aspect of computer programming into a theatrical design. New technology continues to inspire me. I have some big things coming, and can't wait to share them with you. 

© 2020 by Hayden Allred.