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While there’s nothing wrong with round-cheeked jack-o-lanterns and cheery, waving ghosts, this author is a firm believer in real scares. With that in mind, here’s a twist on window decorations that will send a chill up the spines of all those cute little trick-or-treaters as they approach your house. (Remember those days? It’s so much fun to be on the other side of the scare!)
These live (or at least they appear to be on video) shadow dramas take place on a window, sound and all. Even better, how about a talking head, or if you like “cute,” a singing one a la the busts in Disney’s Haunted Mansion? It’s all up to you! Read on
How to Create Video Projections for Your Halloween Haunt
STEP ONE First, come up with a creepy idea and video tape it. Keep it simple. If you are going to project this on a tall window, turn your video camera sideways and then project it sideways so the image fills the window.
Second, you’ll need a projector. You’ll need one that has a fairly bright light – at least 1500 lumens are recommended (2000 if you don’t mind going up in price for the projector; that’s up to you and what you see for the future of your haunt).
“But video projectors are expensive,” you say. Don’t give up yet! If you live near a larger town or city, there are audio visual rental houses that will happily rent you a projector for a day or two. Or go on the hunt for an inexpensive projector. Today, you can easily order quality projectors for a relatively low price.
STEP TWO Next, you’ll need a translucent “screen” to project the image onto. A sheet is fine, but the light from the projector will defract with this method”, and soo experiment to see if the light is strong enough to penetrate all the way through and be seen from the other side.
Other ideas I’ve seen for this purpose are those cheap disposable table cloths or vinyl shower curtains.
EXAMPLES USING DIFFERENT METHODS Here’s a video of the author reciting poetry in black and white, in duplicate. This was on white butcher paper, and it did not cover all of the window. It showed well since the image was bright, but for a darker image, this didn’t work well at all:
Below: I hung a cheap, white, vinyl table covering over the window (I just realized that I had knocked one of the support rods loose…don’t tell my wife – now THAT would be scary).
Below: Replacing the paper with the plastic vinyl, I did a spooky face by simply putting a cape over my head and lighting just my face with a flashlight. This one really creeped my wife out when she saw it, and she’s a teacher so it takes a lot to scare the daylights out of her!
Other materials you can get just for this purpose include special filters and papers for putting over windows and lights to diffuse light. The gel that will make your window into a translucent screen is what is called “heavy frost,“ and comes in rolls or large sheets. Even if your projector doesn’t have a bright light in it, this gel will let enough light through to see the image well.
STEP THREE Finally, sound. Make sure the windows are open so that you can crank up the stereo and let them have the scary stuff up close and personal! Sound is the depth of vision and adds a lot of realism and suspense.
Sounds easy, right? Well, here’s the problem (there’s always a problem). To keep the image going for as long as the little devils are coming to the door, about two or three hours, you’re going to have to make as long a video as you can.
Some of you might act creepy all the time so no big deal, but for most of you, you could get pretty tired acting creepy for longer than a few minutes. Set your video player to”loop” or “repeat” and you’ll have that extra effort off your hands so you can scare your little visitors personally.
Another cool method (it’s an idea from the Hollywood oldschool film days) is to project the image of someone’s head on a mannequin’s head (like you would store a wig on), or an inflated balloon. If you’re using video, the head appears to be talking.
I made a simple little video wearing all black and a black background, and I recited some poetry. I then went into Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio and reversed the image and the sound. (That’s an advanced technique; you can start smaller than this if you’d like.)
As you can see below, I cut a small hole in a cardboard box and stuck a balloon in it so it wouldn’t move around too much (a little bit is good – spooky) and then projected the image on it. What’s cool about this is that the image not only projected on the surface, a little bit went through to the other side, only real blurry.
Don’t stop here. Come up with ideas that follow the basic principles of “scare” and make your own video version of Window Horror!