Okay, if you have a few minutes to read this, and watch my little video, some of you might find this entertaining. Although some of you might agree that I’m every bit as dumb as I look. In any event, here it is. My failed attempt at a Pepper’s Ghost, from many years ago.
I though I would post this just for the heck of it. This was a Pepper's Ghost effect I made many years ago, without using a projector, mind you, and at the time, there really was no way to film anything in HD at home. Unless of course you had a Hollywood budget and Steven Spielberg was willing to pop by your home for an afternoon. In any event, it didn't turn out as well as planned, but considering the amount of work that went in to making it, it was still sort of a cool failure. It was in my second floor bedroom window, (where we lived at the time) but it just wasn't bright enough to be noticed unless I actually pointed it out to people. So here's the story:
Years ago I had seen a "behind the scenes" video of how they made the ghosts near the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You know, the ones that flew out at the Nazis, and melted that guy's face off. Yeah, those ghosts. So I thought I would try duplicating it in our home, by doing “exactly” (I use the term loosely) what they did to achieve the effect in the movie.
I made a little skeleton ghost marionette. I used that skeleton garland that has little five inch long skeletons all strung together on fake barbed wire. I used the head and torso from one of the skeletons, shredded paper towels into strips, and glued them all over its body like a tattered hooded shroud. Then I glued a wooden chopstick to the top of its head that I’d painted flat black. That allowed me to maneuver my little ghost around from several inches above, out of frame, like a marionette.
I took a 10 gallon fish tank, taped black construction paper all over the back and sides (on the outside of course) and then filled it with water. I set up some lights above and in front of the tank to illuminate the inside. So now I had a tiny underwater movie set, with all of the background blacked out. I set up my cheap video camera on a short stack of books. My blockbuster budget wouldn’t allow for a tripod. Then I dimmed the lights in the room, submerged my little ghost puppet, started recording and yelled “ACTION”! (Probably not, but maybe)
Holding on to the end of the chopstick, I flew the little ghost in and out of frame, up to the camera, had him appear to look around a bit, and then flew him back out of frame. I think I did about a minute of video in total. Then I uploaded it to my computer, used the Windows video maker software, and edited to keep the parts I thought looked cool. I used the fade in and out effect to make him appear to, well, fade in and out, as we all know ghosts on sticks love to do. Finally I burned my finished video to a DVD.
Okay, that was the easy part. Now to compensate for having no video projector. I made a large wooden frame, large enough to lean against the wall above my bedroom window at a 45 degree angle down to the floor. It also had to be wide enough so the frame couldn’t be seen from either side while standing outside. Then I covered the frame with that clear cellophane-like film you shrink over your windows in the winter to keep out drafts, and shrank it until it was smooth like glass.
I took an old 30 inch tube television and laid it on its back under the window, hooked up my DVD player, popped in the my ghost disk, and adjusted the contrast on the TV all the way up until everything that wasn’t white disappeared from the picture. I dimmed the lights in the room a little, and ran outside to see if I was in fact as insane as this project had led my wife to believe. Well, okay, it didn’t turn out as quite as planned, so yes, there was some credibility to her assertions, but all in all, it was somewhat of an accomplishment. I’m just still not sure to what degree. It might have shown up better if I could have dimmed the lights in the room more, but when I tried, the edges of video (tv screen) showed glaringly obvious, so it wasn't really an option. In any event, that was the last Halloween I bothered with that lackluster effect. I just ran across this video I had taken of it, and thought I’d share it. Nasty comments welcomed : )