Halloween Forum banner

1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Just thought I would start a thread where we could all explore lessons we took from our props, gadgets, displays and haunts this year. The lesson could be something that failed utterly or something that worked well.

I will start us off...

I built a couple of groundbreaker zombies this year, from scrap PVC pipe and spare skulls I had laying around. (I mean, we're Halloween-ophiles, who doesn't have those?) After carefully corpsing them using the plastic sheet and heatgun method, I painted them up, which turned out nice. They turned out with just the right amount of rot and funk to suit my taste. You can do some amazing work with acrylic paint and the dry brush method. However, in my excitement, I completely forgot to weather proof them. This ensured we had very heavy rains in my area. (Sorry everyone, the storms were my fault.)

Here's the weird part, the rain washed just enough of the paint in exactly the right areas to expose part of the skull underneath. The groundbreakers looked even better. Go figure!

Okay, your turn. What was your big lesson this Halloween?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,849 Posts
Here's the weird part, the rain washed just enough of the paint in exactly the right areas to expose part of the skull underneath. The groundbreakers looked even better. Go figure!

Okay, your turn. What was your big lesson this Halloween?
If you ever watch Ed Edmunds of Distortions Unlimited, he actually uses a wet sponge while he's air brushing the props to give them a wash of colors....I know the final result is amazing but I've never tried it myself....The lesson I learned this year is NO black plastic for walls in tents....When the heavy winds come it blows up like a parachute and destroys the tent structure....If I didn't have the tent secured well to allow it some give, it would have blown away so it's a lose lose....Great for rain, bad for wind.....ZR
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
150 Posts
The lesson I learned this year is NO black plastic for walls in tents....When the heavy winds come it blows up like a parachute and destroys the tent structure....If I didn't have the tent secured well to allow it some give, it would have blown away so it's a lose lose....Great for rain, bad for wind.....ZR
I use black plastic over my whole car port, starting this year only had the roof from the car port on. But I use Gorilla tape to secure it to the poles in front and rear then since front and rear panels are seperate I tape them together had no issues at the campground and my friends brand new carport got it in the wind but mine stayed put. But also I added a couple of extra posts in about the 5ft mark and added a bottom rail but on the ground just used tarp clips in about 2 or 3 places on each side.

My big lesson this year is take a generator with me to the campground for my display, my site along with about 20 others kept losing power. Was a major hit when I had power especially with the laser swamp but when the judges showed up no power they even came back to see it and we still had no power, probably cost me 1st place as I was a talk of the campground and people form the other part were told they had to come check out my site and waited for over 10 minutes when the DNR went to restore the power.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
73 Posts
This is the perfect threat to sum up my 2019 Halloween. It started w/ an idea for a large scale pirate skeleton scene in my front yard back in August - I live in Phoenix and I mostly stay inside in the hot summer, and by August I think we all start getting a little cabin crazy. So I got on Pinterest & Youtube and started getting ideas! I had so much fun building stuff and dressing my skeletons. Then I was in the process of switching jobs so I had the last 2 weeks of October off before starting. I didn't want to set up stuff too early because it's been windy out and small chance of rain (very small, but it would screw up everything) so I wanted to wait until the last week. And then I got bored, so I started looking for little animations I could add. I ordered a bunch of reindeer motors and 2 rotisserie motors because I'm not especially swift w/ electronics and wanted something I could just plug in. They arrived on Saturday (10/25) which gave me 4 days to build and 2 days to set up. I spent 5 1/2 days building and half a day setting up. It wasn't enough LOL!

My animations were supposed to be:

  • drunk pirate w/ continuous flow rum using a small fountain water pump. (Inspiration:
    )
  • drunk pirate rocking back & forth on a box w/ a bottle of booze (Inspiration:
    )
  • rotating ship's helm (Inspiration:
    )
  • pirate sword fight (Inspiration:
    )
  • rotating kraken tentacles (similar to rotating ship's helm)
I actually completed all of these, and got all of them to work in testing, but only 1 survived being setup and running during Halloween:

  • the continuous flow drunk pirate - the hose going from the pump to the jug got jostled and moved from the mouth of the jug to deeper in the jug. When I turned the pump on, the water filled up in the bottle of the jug instead of running out to the guy's mouth. This weighed down the jug, and pulled the guy's arm down, which moved the water flow to over the side of the tub, and started pooling close to the extension cords, so I just unplugged it.
  • the rocking back & forth drunk guy - I had thrown some "scary netting" over the side of the table he was sitting on to make it look less like a table, and then turned on the motor and went about doing other things. Then I noticed it was jammed, and discovered the netting had wrapped around the arm of the motor. So in trying to pull that off while the kids started showing up (in droves mind you!), the whole setup got moved around I didn't have time to get the guy positioned right so the motor + arms had clearance, so I just unplugged it.
  • the rotating ship's helm - this worked but discovered attaching the skeleton captain's arms to the wheel was too much weight and stopped it, so I just left them hanging and the wheel had free movement. The only bummer is the range of rotation was pretty small because the wheel didn't have a lot of clearance to rotate. But it worked!
  • pirate sword fight - this actually worked (Amazing considering I built it in 2 days) w/ a little rotisserie motor, though slow. But one of the side pieces holding the container (similar to the video guy's coffee can, but I used a protein powder jug) broke and I didn't have time to fix it, so I turned it off.
  • rotating kraken tentacles - the two issues w/ this were the "lazy susans" I built for 2 of the tentacles to rotate just need a little more refinement and didn't give enough freedom to rotate, so the weight of the tentacles was just too much for the motor to rotate them.
In all of the craziness, I also never got to set up:
  • my projection screen & projector that had a storm scene I was going to play in the background of the ship's helm
  • audio for the drunk pirates scene & sword fight scene - it was all recorded & ready to go, but the little off-brand iPods I set up to play had already drained their batteries, so no power, and the kids were coming in herds so never had time to charge them & set them up
  • I had a fog machine & home made fog chiller all set to go, but the fog juice (Froggy's Freezin Juice or whatever it's called is supposed to be the best) and I had ordered it but got an email saying they couldn't ship it before Monday, and w/ the chaos of the last 4 days, no time to go buy more. So I just skipped it all together.
So I learned all sorts of cool things about how to build props and the beginnings of using motors, so my learnings are the following:

1) I need to learn how to use & get bigger motors if I want to do heavier props.
2) ABSOLUTELY need to allocate AT LEAST 2 days to set up, test everything, put the final touches on things and get the lighting set up.
3) Order all my stuff way early - most of the biggest inspirations came in the last week where I had to research what to order, order it and then wait for it to arrive before I could start doing anything.
4) The most useful material I had for my builds was some shelving stuff (those metal rods w/ lots of holes that you attach to the inside of your cupboards to set shelves on) I saved from a demo of a wall unit when I moved into my house 5 years ago! I was able to cut or bend that stuff to make most of the motor arms that I used.
5) Move my car out of the driveway. (didn't have time for that either)

Unfortunately I was so busying fixing things and the kids were coming (we got about 150 kids, though usually we get 200+) so didn't get a chance to record everything until it was way dark, so my night video is sort of crappy. And the day video is missing the lighting and nothing is plugged in.

NIghtime:
Daytime: https://youtu.be/5JhKTJYSmfw

All in all, it was huge fun learning how to do all this stuff and filled my time between jobs, it turned out well, even though most of my "big production stuff" didn't work or didn't get setup in time, and I'm sooo thankful it's all over. I'm exhausted and amazed I didn't blow my back out doing all of it! Now I have to dismantle it all and attempt to find a place to store it or toss it. Sadly the tentacles & kraken head have to get tossed. I have no room for them and I suspect they wouldn't survive. The paint is already getting scuffed.

Until next year!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,849 Posts
I use black plastic over my whole car port, starting this year only had the roof from the car port on. But I use Gorilla tape to secure it to the poles in front and rear then since front and rear panels are seperate I tape them together had no issues at the campground and my friends brand new carport got it in the wind but mine stayed put. But also I added a couple of extra posts in about the 5ft mark and added a bottom rail but on the ground just used tarp clips in about 2 or 3 places on each side.
I have a car port tent out back at my basement doors to work on projects and it stayed put since summer, even the high winds last night, it did OK.....But it also doesn't have walls, only has a roof on and the wind gets blocked down there too....Where I set up the Halloween tents is right on top an open ridge so they don't stand much chance with walls....I'll set them up again next year but won't clip the fabric walls on until the last minute if the wind is OK and will only be used for people with maybe a couple props at my building entrance under the tent at most....I did rip a bunch of legs out of 2X4s to zip tie to the metal legs and that seemed to help a lot too....I won't be using black plastic for walls in the tents again though.....Just too much force for the structure to handle in high winds....ZR
 

·
black light queen
Joined
·
2,506 Posts
been using a laser vortex and a "homemade line laser" with faggers for years ... the vortex and fogger worked like it was supposed to :) i didn't have time for the other fogger for the line laser that i purchased and it worked ok, not as good as before ... at the end of the night when the tots stopped arriving, i tested the line laser on our porch, on the floor ... meh :-( ... when i walked up the stairs up to the porch i noticed that the laser looked better when my eye line was just above the fog line ... interesting, so i put the line laser on a table and when people are on the porch the fog line is closer to everyone's sight line ... didn't want it too high so that it might shine into shorter tots eyes ... i'm guessing that in previous years, with the laser a foot or so above the ground & a fogger near it, the result was good

so, long story short, put the line laser higher rather than lower :)

amk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Things to remember for next year:
1. Start early
2. Get a fog machine that runs continuously without a remote (any suggestions are appreciated).
3. Buy enough candy - I bought 2 cases of full sized candy bars, and kids took more than one at a time.
4. Store things better so that they are more accessible and don’t get damaged.
5. Anchor props better so that the wind doesn’t destroy them.
6. Have enough lighting- 11 spotlights/projectors, plus LED floodlights and black lights still didn’t illuminate my yard as much as I wanted.
Does anyone know of a thick good glue that does not get gooey in the rain? Liquid nails seems to be water soluble.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
356 Posts
Sure I can think of more later, but perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned this year is: I have enough Halloween decorations.* It took me longer to break it all down this time than previous years, and I can tell that space is going to be a problem (at least in terms of hiding it all away in closets and such).
So, I didn't even bother with the after-Halloween sales. This is the first in the five or six years I've been at this that I didn't rush out to look for bargains the morning of November first.

*Now, there's a full year ahead where I might come up with ideas for new displays, necessitating online orders, but as far as actively trying to grab up deals? Nah. Not this time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
706 Posts
I've been there, with the black plastic turning into sails nightmare.

This year, we bought some camo netting. Unfortunately, the only stuff we could find in a store was actually camouflage print. With brand logos. That won't do. So I tried to make it black myself.

Uhh.

Black dye doesn't work, you'll never find a pot big enough to boil this stuff in anyway, and I did not have 6 hours to waste boiling fabric anyway.

Spray paint is worthless, and worse when it's windy.

Diluted acrylic paint, however, worked great. Squirt, wet, mix, dunk, hang to dry, completely dry in about an hour.

I need to go back and dunk it one more time, for better coverage on the failed experiments and a deeper black. But it worked wonders. And the cutouts on the camouflage netting are leaf shaped. It's not waterproof like the plastic, but it doesn't rip out and go flying, which means I can put it up a couple of days ahead of time. Worth it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,263 Posts
I need better ways to steak my large props than using the garden shepard hooks. The big one I have Death on is bent all to hell from the crazy winds. I might have to come up with something drastic for next year.

Also robes need to be pined into the ground to deal with wind.
 

·
Evil Wizard
Joined
·
2,165 Posts
I’ll have to come back and edit this later, once I’ve gathered all my thoughts, but my most immediate takeaway is this:

1. Run a separate extension cord, dedicated just for the inflatables, so that I don’t have to futz around with disconnecting them, while leaving other items/lights plugged in. Just pull one cord when the inflatables start whipping around in heavy winds. (Had a 12’ ghost and 8’ tree’s bases pulled out of the ground; luckily, they remained tethered.)

I did, however, have the foresight to keep several bricks and cinderblocks nearby, to weigh them all down after deflating and rolling them up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
We did our first haunted house/maze walk thru this year. Some of the walls where black plastic 3 MIL thickness. As soon as the wind picked up it ripped away from the staples holding it. So for next years maze I'm going to get an earlier start and make more false walls out of plywood. Otherwise the walk thru was a huge hit and got quite a few jump scares out of our party guests and I'm looking forward to a new theme and larger maze next year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
73 Posts
We had wind during the day while I was setting up - I ended up filling up plastic grocery bags w/ some potting soil I had in a tub on the side of my house available if needed. The wind thankfully died down towards the end of the afternoon so no worries w/ stuff blowing away.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
356 Posts
A lesson that I relearn every year as a newbie at yard haunting is: "It's the Lighting, Stupid!". Thanks to the weather, some of my lighting ideas didn't come to fruition. However, some did to marvelous effect. Long story short: Some props got virtually ignored due to low/poor lighting, while others came out absolutely grand.
 

·
black light queen
Joined
·
2,506 Posts
2. Get a fog machine that runs continuously without a remote (any suggestions are appreciated).
although on the expensive side ($360 on amazon at this time), years ago i researched and purchased a fog fury 3000 pro-sumer fogger because it has a continuous function which is perfect for my applications for laser vortex & line lasers ... its been working like a champ :) ... btw i do store it with fog juice in it and only use high quality juices like foggy's ... DO NOT USE STORE BOUGHT FOG JUICE, EVEN IF IT'S ON SALE!!!

there probably are other continuous foggers out there as well, but i haven't researched once i found my solution, maybe others can chime in with their experiences :)

amk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Lesson I learned: I’m done building my own costume. I’ll try stuff on for fitting but I’m done with figuring out my own costume. This years was a bust and never was fully realized (Hatbox ghost) because all my focus and effort was on the decorations and props for the Halloween party and ToTs.

If only we got more than 20 Tot’s, but so goes living on one of the major thruway in the neighborhood.

Next year, I’m just going full on with a haunted house. The one in our neighborhood I could easily put to shame if I get the wife to sign off on it.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
210 Posts
Also robes need to be pinned into the ground to deal with wind.
I hear you on this! I think I am going to take a slightly different tactic, tho, and add a hoop of plastic or metal to keep the oval skirt shape and tether the hoop down. I will probably use plumbers pipe strapping to make the hoop ... I want them to move, but sheesh, not quite so much.
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
Top