We have blogged before about the “kabuki drop” – that seemingly magical trick in which a backdrop is hanging proud and then, in the blink of an eye, is gone from sight. It is one of those stage tricks that looks so amazing but is actually simple to achieve, and can be used with nearly any stage backdrop, whether it be a digitally printed scenic backdrop or a simple White Poly Muslin Backdrop. All that is needed to made a backdrop “kabuki-ready” is to have a top finish with loop (“soft” or “female”) velcro on both sides, along with removable D-Rings with hook (“hard” or “male” velcro).
The trickier part for the smaller band or event production team has been the release mechanism part of the trick. In order to accomplish a true kabuki drop (as opposed to a manual tear-a-way), special hardware (called a solenoid system) is required. Large music staging and touring companies have used these systems for years, but smaller bands and event production companies, who aren’t as familiar with the systems, may find them intimidating.
Let me assure you, they are anything but intimidating, especially when packed as an “all-in-one” easy to install Kabuki Drop Kit. I speak from personal experience as one who would never be described as mechanically inclined!
I have been familiar with solenoid systems for years, since I joined Sew What? about ten years ago. I understood the basic idea behind them but, to be honest, as my role is primarily office-based, I didn’t know all of the specifics of the systems and had never actually installed one. That all changed earlier this week, when Rick Garcia, our General Operations Manager, gave a brief lesson to the “office folk” on our rental Kabuki Drop Kits. Some people at the lesson knew solenoids backwards and forwards and had even installed them many times in the past, and so for them, this was simply a refresher. But for others (like myself) who knew the concept in theory but had never actually installed a solenoid system before, this was an eye-opening experience.
The lesson began with a 20 minute presentation in which Rick gave us all reference sheets with the details on all the components of the Kabuki Drop Kit, complete with installation diagrams, component photos, and specs. The fun part began after the presentation. Rick had set up two stations in the warehouse, each with its own section of truss and 6-head Kabuki Drop Kit. Individually, we each went down to the warehouse and were tasked with attaching the kabuki heads to a truss, ensuring the heads were connected properly to each other and to the power supply via the included cables, attaching the power supply to the remote control, pushing the remote button to perform an actual kabuki drop, and disassembling the system and repacking it in the road case. Each person did this independently without help from Rick, based solely on our prior knowledge plus what we had learned in the 20 minute presentation.
It was so much fun, and really so easy! I was able to install a full 6-head system (enough for a 20′ wide backdrop) in ten minutes from start to finish. So, believe me, if I can do it, you can do it!
So, if you are thinking “wow, I’d love to do a kabuki drop at my next event,” don’t hesitate! Our Kabuki Drop Kits are available for rent, and they can be used with your own existing backdrop, a new custom backdrop from Sew What?, or one of our rental backdrops.
Want to learn more? Our Kabuki Drop Kits were recently featured in the newsroom at PLSN (Projection, Lights and Staging News).