The Invention and Development of the Anti Drip System "ADS"
“Solving one of the fundamental problems with all things that spew water………...they drip ”. The rough and tumble days and Flirting with disaster on the steep part of the learning curve.
In 1997 we had been doing ever bigger shows with the V2 system which had all gone well, but, we had noticed that when we turned off the pumps the nozzle would continue to drizzle for several seconds. Sometimes it would occasionally drip a few drops several minutes after it was turned off. We new that this would become a problem when we started integrating the WaterScrim™’s into theatrical situations where it would be cycled on and off numerous times and would create an unacceptable distraction if it dripped when it was supposed to be off. We had begun to flesh out all of the possible applications for the WaterScrim™ and realized that people would want to walk under the screen’s after making stage
entrances and such. Having the screen drip on a CEO’s head during a keynote speech would be disastrous, so, we set out to find the remedy before it became a problem.
We also new that the post cue drain down time “drizzle” would have to be greatly reduced if not eliminated. The screen simply needed to go on and off quickly and cleanly. Something that the screen’s inherently did not do well.
We sat down and had an creative/technical jam session and discussed several of the more obvious mechanical means of containing the drippage. Most of them seemed either clunky or overly complicated and we knew they just wouldn’t cut it in show biz, so, we didn’t even bother to test them.
We had exhausted a lot of ideas and didn’t really like any of them when an off the wall idea just popped up. Why not use Vacuum to pull air up through the drip holes preventing any residual water from escaping??? It was one of those moments when you literally jump up because you know it’s going to work even before you test it.
We drilled some holes into the top of the nozzle plenum and quickly fashioned a rig to connect our shop vac to the nozzle. We turned on the nozzle and ran it for about a minute and then turned it off, hit the Vac & Bam, it was off. As fast as you could snap your fingers and not a drop. We waited several minutes and not a single drop fell. The Anti Drip System was born on that fine day.
We went into an intensive research and development session and soon realized that we would have to completely change the nozzle design to accommodate an air gap at the top of the nozzles plenum chamber. We realized that this plenum air chamber was key to overall water screen control and clean cue cycling. We also realized that we would have to make a sound proof enclosure for the Vacuum system. We had done several movie shoots with our lasers and knew that even the whisper of a small cooling fan was un-acceptable in that environment. It was all going to be a real challenge, but, that’s what we lived for.
The biggest problem was (and there’s always some sort of problem, right?) that we had recently booked the first big time gig for our fledgling water screen system with Chrysler and there just wasn’t going to be time to design and build both a new nozzle system and an ADS system. The nozzles won, so we ended up with nice new nozzles, but, barely more than a new shop Vac for the ADS along with a blanket to smother the sound with. The show with Chrysler was not one to screw up. It was going to be the premier and press release of Chrysler’s 3 new Sebring models at the 2000 New York International Auto Show, the worlds largest and most prestigious auto show. And it was the first time that an indoor water screen would be seen by the press and the world. Although a few sales folks at Dell computers and Scientology had seen it, this would be the true world premier for our WaterScrim™ technology. The press would be there in full force. The very fact that the folks at Chrysler were willing to drive their new models through a torrent of water right when they were being revealed for the first time was unheard of and revolutionary.
The show employed a 40’ long x 45’ high V3-A WaterScrim™ and the single bare Vac unit. The cars were to drive right through the water screen for the big reveal and then stop on stage with the press running up and surrounding the cars. The press and cars would be standing right under the 40’ long water screen. Talk about nervous. We didn’t have a chance to test the ADS concept or the new V3-A nozzles at high trim before this gig, so, we were a little nervous to say the least. Our biggest worry was that if the vacuum overheated and thermal’d off, it would dump a good 8 to 10 gallons on the press, cameras, and cars below ending in a news worthy disaster. We had rehearsed the show and had allowed about 6 seconds for the residual water to drain out before hitting the ADS system. This way there would be very little water trapped in the nozzle above the press and cars. The rehearsals went great and the screen was the talk of the whole show. Our only way of quieting the vacuum was to put it in a cardboard box and tackle the whole thing with a 2 layers of packing blankets.
The show went fantastic right up until the screen off/ADS on cue. The LD called the ADS on cue way to early and didn’t allow for the drain down time, so, the ADS system went on with a good 8 to 12 gallons still precariously trapped in the nozzles!!. For the next 2 hours we could hardly breath with fear. Since we were smothering the vacuum to keep it quiet it was slowly overheating. We knew that the vac motor had a thermal cutoff, so, we were just waiting for it to shut down and shower the whole press. We got lucky and it kept on humming for about 2 hours till the stage was clear of cars and the press was gone. When we finally shut down the vac we were ASTONISHED at how much water poured out of the screen. It was as if the pumps were turned back on for another 7 or 8 seconds. My brother and I looked at each other and turned pale white when we realized the magnitude of the disaster we had just avoided. The best part was that the system never dropped a single drop after the ADS was turned on, even with the pre-mature ADS cue and a ridiculous amount of water suspended in the nozzle. It had worked perfectly.
Needless to say we got right to work on the first production model for the ADS technology. Several different configurations were researched in order to enhance and augment certain performance characteristics within the cycling envelope. Mirage has since developed ADS augmentations such as a Rapid Cycling System, and a “Hydro-Pulse” system to create rhythmic waves and variations in the screen. The more complex configurations such as the RCS require valves and interlocks, so, we have also designed options for fully automation versions. One of the fully automated systems is installed in the Shopping complex at Ceasars Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Some of these methods and technologies are proprietary and information regarding them is available only on a need to know basis. Please inquire if you think our ADS, RCS, Hydro-Pulse or other water screen cue control systems or technologies or might be of help.
PS. The press was more interested in the water screen than the new cars. The debut of indoor water screen technology was a thundering success. I remember the whole team doing a lot of drinking that night. To this day we still owe a huge debt of gratitude to the folks at Chrysler, Roy Sears & Scenic Technologies/Entolo, Duke Durfee at DMD and the awesome ladies Natily and Cathy for giving us the chance to prove that you can project on water!
ADS/VAC, RCS, and Hydro-Pulse Technologies are as far out of the box as you can get, and more examples of how the fertile minds at Mirage create technologies that give wings to innovate concepts.