Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Haunt Theory: Lighting

Got a question about my lighting techniques. The insanely-talented Rob at has the finest lighting tutorial around. I agree with his approach as it front-lights your props and creates some beautiful shadows and accents the most important part of your hard work - the front.

My yard haunt has two main issues that forced me to light the haunt from the above tree branches:

1. A super bright and super close street lamp (that provides a lot of ambient front-lighting).
2. A horrible family that walks through the lawn of the yard haunt, between the props, and under the tree.

One experience comes to mind. I use two strings of flickering flame bulbs for under my witches' iron cauldron. I love that effect and take a crazy amount of time to perfect it. Placing the twigs and sticks of the fire carefully as to hide the bulbs and wires, but to allow enough orange light through. A member of my family walked across the lawn and got tangled in the extension cord running to those lights. I watched those flickering bulbs go flying quite a few times over the years. Pushing the lights and sticks back under the cauldron quickly before more trick or treaters arrive is another sickening ritual I could do without. I can only imagine if I ran cords to the front of my display to feed flood lamps placed there. It's surprising how many people actually cut through the small lawn of my yard haunt.

So it's actually a practical use of lighting, and I'm surprised my family doesn't climb the tree at some point during the night, tangling my wires and breaking my bulbs while they fish around in the branches.

That said, I think tree lighting from above can work if you keep in mind the importance of shadows. I always make sure some pine needles and branches of the tree are in front of the flood lamps. And I try not to go overboard with making the haunt too bright. I think of it as moonlight. Smaller bulbs stuffed into the bushes or cornstalks on each side of the porch add a lot of atmosphere. In the case of my witches' smoking cauldron, I had a green spotlight shining straight down into the cauldron. The fog appeared to be giving off a ghostly green glow.

Every year, I venture back to where I grew up and haunt my folks' lawn. I won't be doing that forever and I'm looking forward to a change of scenery and a new environment. And you can bet I'll be using some of SkullandBone's techniques for lighting it.


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This great photo of the Dark Ride at Coney Island reminded me of the local carnival that would come to the high school parking lot near my home when I was growing up. I was in early grade school and I can remember begging my mother to let me go into the Haunted House [trailer]. I was old enough and brave enough and wanted to feel like a teenager, or a manly man. So my mother and I entered the Haunted House [trailer] and moments later we were in complete and total darkness. I don't know what I was expecting from something that rode around on the back of a truck all across the country, but the entire "ride" was the pitch black interior of a trailer, probably with a crude maze to prolong the experience. I could hear my mother laughing as we both tried to feel our way along the walls and out of the Haunted House [trailer]. I'm not going to lie. By this time I was petrified. Truly about to panic from fright. I was way too young for this sort of thing and totally praising God that my mother emasculated me and came along for the ride. The agony of having no sight for that long was excruciating. And then it happened. Right before the exit, a massive interior-illuminated green head lit up along with a bladder-releasing buzzing sound - the coup de grace. It was behind glass and was really rather bizarre. In my mind, it looked like the weird Martian King Thing in INVADERS FROM MARS.

But it was probably just a large plastic head, lit from the inside by a green flood lamp. It worked perfectly. Everyone screamed. Except me. I said I had banged my head on the glass enclosing that horrible head. The tears, you see, were from the pain. My mother totally knew I was lying, but never let on.

Manly manliness still intact.

The Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow blog.

2006 Leftovers

Now Playing: Halloween III

Picked this cd up a while back. The complete score for HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH was one of those things I never thought I'd get my hands on. The hospital scene from the beginning of the film featured the best music from the film in my opinion and it had been left off of the original release. Track 13 Hey Boom is the music to that scene.

Some samples.

Hoping a complete score is released to BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA which includes the airport kidnapping scene. None released so far have contained it.

Vane Witch

Image source.

More Spider Rider

Posted a video link for this great haunt earlier this month, but just found this page with some great photos.

Spider Rider 2008

Metal Scarecrow

Burning Man photo set.

Snow Jacko


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Thursday, January 29, 2009


via this cool blog.

Halloween Subway Art

By street artist Troy Henriksen.

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Haunted Hike

Featured this haunt a while back - the Monrovia Canyon Park Haunted Hike. Just found their blog.

The Dead Walk

News story.

Now Playing: Letum

Another dark ambient favorite - Letum's The Entrance to Salvation.

Listen to samples.


Image source.

Very Old Photos

...from my display back in the 80's and early 90's. Was flipping through an old photo album tonight and decided to scan a few pics. Having Mrs. Bates looking out the top window seems a little cheesy, but at the time I remember a lot of the parents really getting a kick out of it.

Actually used black and white film for those last two shots. It gave the display photos a neat NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD feeling.

Porch Lantern

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Halloween Card

Scanned an old card that I purchased just for the design.
Couldn't bring myself to ever send it.

Art by Beth Cohen.

Dead Things

More great images from the Morbid Anatomy blog.


Neat sketch by Crudedoodle. It'd be a great twist on the giant spider prop design for a yard haunt.

Tombed Dead

Latex Rot

All Souls


Current Wallpaper

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Image source.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009