Gear Notes: The Floorpocket from Creative Conners

by Stu Cox
Installing the The Floorpocket from Creative Conners
Installing the The Floorpocket from Creative Conners

Lift Rises to Customers’ Expectations

Creative Conners, one of the go-to names in regional theater stage automation has a no-fuss, no-muss performer and scenery lift, the Floorpocket, which has been well-received since its introduction at LDI 2016. Creative Conners’ goal was a safe stock lift that would answer their customers’ desire for an elevator with simple plug and play set-up, no hydraulics fluid, and a machine that would play nicely with Conners’ Spikemark software. The Floorpocket can be used as a performer or scenery lift, hidden in a trap room below the stage, or incorporated into scenery to be used as an elevator between scenic levels.

The base unit of the telescoping lift is 72” high with a footprint of 60” x 60”. Additional height can be added in 12” increments for up to 18-feet of travel. It has a 230V 60Hz 3-phase motor with variable speed maxing out at 24” per second and is capable of lifting 1,000 lbs. The lifting platform is 36” x 36”, and a scenic platform can be attached to it, though that will limit the lifting capacity. A safety pressure mat is included to ensure there are no obstructions (or people) beneath the lifting platform as well as bumper switches that mount to the perimeter of all pinch points (beneath the lift platform and the underside of the trap opening). The Floorpocket uses Conners’ familiar Stagehand Pro controller with their Spikemark software, and ties into their Showstopper 3 Base and Consolette emergency stop system. All the components were designed for plug and play set-up allowing for quick installs, flexible gear layouts, and optimal operator placements.

While it can be easy to compare the specifications for machinery, anyone who has used stage automation in their theater knows the real assessment comes with how easy it is to install and integrate a manufacturer’s gear into a show, and how well it achieves the desired effect. Among the first to put it through its paces was Pensacola Christian College who incorporated the Floorpocket into their production of A Christmas Carol. Needing a solution for various actor entrances and exits, not to mention props logistics, Ben Davis, scene shop foreman and manager at Pensacola, chose to use the Floorpocket in their Dale Horton Auditorium for their production of A Christmas Carol. Looking at the spec’d dimensions, he knew the Floorpocket should work for their space.

Based on that, and the company’s record for excellent customer service, Davis went with Creative Conners. The installation went smoothly, with Gareth Conner and one of his technicians on location for the day doing the necessary modifications to make the Floorpocket system show-ready. For tech and performances, the lift was operated as an independent machine, utilizing the standard Conners setup of Stagehand Pro controller, running Spikemark software in conjunction with the Showstopper 3 emergency stop system. With the various placement options a Conners system affords, Davis chose to put his operators right in the action, next to the machine and the actors. He said the speed and timing was incredibly easy to adjust based on what was needed for their effect. He also noted that if anything happened with the written cue, or if they needed to do something on the fly without having the time to write a cue, it could be operated manually.

While making actors appear and disappear on cue, the Floorpocket’s only generated sounds were a low mechanical hum during travel and the small clicks of brakes engaging and disengaging. Actors were safe and happy through the nine-feet plus of moving elevation used in the show. 

“Overall, it worked amazingly,” said Davis. “We would definitely use it again.” He points out the one downside for him, was that he had to build a deck on top of the lift platform to get it flush with the stage above. “If there was some way around that, that would be the only improvement I can think of.” Looking at a shipping weight of 2,000 lbs. (which is entirely normal for a stage automation machine of these capacities) theaters should plan for a little extra freight cost. Creative Conners lets customers know early in the quoting process what those costs will be so there’s no surprising shipping costs.

Creative Conners has designed and built a lot of custom lifts and elevators to meet the needs of specific projects. “Like all of our machines, the Floorpocket started with the goal of boiling down the essential features of the effect, weeding out the shortcomings and headaches of custom designs, and incorporating all the safety components into a finished, stock product,” stated Peter Veal, Director of Business Development for Creative Conners. 
Floorpocket Raised