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Moonflower light tunnel = safer alternative to green laser vortex?

13824 Views 52 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  mikeerdas
I'm still uncomfortable with the idea of pointing a green laser vortex at an audience, due to real or merely perceived safety issues. But searching around on YouTube I found what may be a cool and safer alternative - using a DJ style moonflower light plus fog. I'm interested in potentially setting one of these up in my two car garage. Here's the video I found. It also reminds me of the light tunnel effect seen at the beginning of Epcot Center Norway's Maelstrom ride, where you're starting to ascend at the beginning of the attraction:

In a garage, it should be dark enough and I wouldn't have to worry about wind dispersing the fog too quickly. However, it wouldn't be a Haunted Garage. Don't want it to be a walkthru or to attract interested trick-or-treaters. Is there any kind of inexpensive mesh netting I could hang to the outside of the garage door to discourage anyone trying to walk into the garage? Maybe like those child safety pool screens you sometimes see.

Wonder if there's something strong enough to keep little kids out. But that would let enough light in to see the moonflower light tunnel. Also makes me wonder about scrim. Having some sort of cool scene in the garage, viewable from the driveway part of the time, e.g. front lighting it, then backlighting it on a timer.

Anyway, I think the guy mentions using a ~$150 American DJ moonflower unit. That's a bit out of my price range. Any other model suggestions? Recently saw a large rotating multi-color "globe" light at Party City for $15. Can't help but wonder if I could mount it horizontally rather than have it stand vertically, and sub that in for a moonflower light tunnel effect. Don't know if it would be bright enough. Or if I could mod it to use a brighter light bulb.

Here's the Party City item:

Spinning Rainbow Light 9in SKU: 215559
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I've seen a YouTube vid where a projector was used, it was stunning. Sorry, at work and can't find the link to it.
Thanks God of Thunder. It would be great if you could post a link to the video when you have time. Would love to repurpose and use stuff I already own, like my el cheapo Discovery Wonderwall projector--one of which is still unboxed from the Woot.com deal a while back.
Wow! Thanks for posting! :) Looks fantastic. I read in the comments while viewing this directly from YouTube that it uses a regular video projector, but it's 2700 lumens. So I may be able to use my Digital Galaxy DG-747 2500 lumens projector. Not sure about the Wonderwall--forget how many lumens it has, but not much. Would prefer to use the Wonderwall for a tunnel effect because I want to reserve the DG-747 for higher-resolution stuff (may try to project tarantulas or snakes this season). Imagine you'd be able to have a cone in the source video and thus simulate what a real laser vortex does.

Icemanfred, in the description section for the video it states:

"A digital projector shines points of light through a foggy room, creating a fairly inexpensive alternative to a programmable laser projector."
Would love to have the source video (or something like it) for testing this out.
been watching the laptop screen in the corner.

so all you would need is a video of a black screen with a green circle. burned to a dvd played thru a projector to replicate the laser vortex???

anyone know how to make such a video?
You beat me to it. I just noticed the laptop in the video and have been watching it. Hard to see, but I think you're correct. Black screen plus green circle should produce a green "laser" vortex. And a single series of dots that rotate in a circle should produce the Moonflower tunnel effect.

As far as how to make such a video, Windows Movie Maker should be able to do it. It either came free with my Windows XP OS or was a free download from Microsoft. You could use a free drawing program--even MS Paint!--to create a green circle JPG on a black background--and feed that into Windows Movie Maker. That's essentially what I did to create my Ghostly Footsteps video. Just created a series of JPG images with IrfanView (another free image software for Windows), then used Windows Movie Maker to sequence them together and use fade effects between images. Pretty easy to do.

I left a comment on Austro's video (the one God of thunder posted here) asking if he'd share his source video. But may create my own--no promises though.
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Icemanfred, there seems to be free open source software called MusicBeam available for Windows, Mac, and Linux that will create Moonflower patterns, etc.
Haven't used it yet, but here's a video from the developer:

And here is the MusicBeam software web site:

this is a great idea. using a movie projector
but I think that software seems too advanced to just do the vortex tunnel.
dont really need a light show or to be synced to music.

just need that green circle to be steady. and let the fog do the rest.
not to mention I would prefer not to tie up a computer. dvd players are a dime a dozen .
I'm with you. Don't need sync to music, etc. Although it seems like a great feature for home parties, clubs, etc. No promises, but prior to Halloween I'm really hoping to give this a try. I would burn to DVD for convenience, reliability, ease of set-up/break down, etc. Will share source videos to YouTube if I make any.

One thing the MusicBeam folks say is that in addition to high lumens, it also helps to have a projector with a high contrast ratio. The Wonderwall probably fails on that count. Dunno.
so here you can see what the scanner (using the program) looks like against a wall.
next is just a green circle againt a black background done in windows movie maker.
the white bars above and below give off alot of light but without it the green circle is pretty bright. maybe even bright enough for the tunnel effect.
may try this with fog and see if it works.
Thanks for posting your results so far Fred. If you make a video of the green circle and burn to DVD, hopefully it has a function where you can zoom in and out to play around with the area of the projected cone. If not, you could just create different sized circle JPGs and add them to your Windows Movie Maker movie. Would love to see it blown with fog when you get to it. For the projector you intend to use, how many lumens does it have? If you have suggestions for, or questions about, the MusicBeam software, it sounds like the creators want feedback here: [email protected].

This projector method opens up so many different possibilities like a vortex within a vortex and all other sorts of cool kinds of geometries and colors. Really liked seeing the blue vortex in the video God of Thunder posted (blue lasers are still expensive) as well as the undulating color-changing liquid sky, etc. Really have no idea what software was used by the guy in that video. It's neat that such simple geometries look so spectacular when projected and blown with fog--or possibly even just haze.

@AMK, thanks. I've been unhappy with the potential safety of the green laser vortex pointed at an audience for years (again, real and merely perceived). So this is a very cool find.

Wonder if there is other software out there. Or if VexFX could whip something up in a Flash application like with his Ghost Steps. Still would be an issue of capturing video. But I know at least SnagIt for Windows has a 30 day free trial that will capture video as .AVI files. Then other software could convert to formats playable by certain DVD players.
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Yup, thanks Saruman. That would be one option to consider. Spookie also dug that up on another thread.

@Fred, thanks for posting the specs of your projector, for discovering that the guy used Adobe Flash CS3, and wishing you well with your experiment when you project with fog blowing.

@Chewbacca and @GodOfThunder, I simply didn't want to think about laser safety any more. Would rather use projection now that it looks viable. Good luck with your projects.
Attached are some test images to project with fog

Don't think I'll get around to testing with a projector and fog tonight. But I spent some time creating test JPG images to project, attached here as four zip files. My DVD player has a slideshow playback mode and will also play a single image--testing that on a TV to see how long it holds to make sure a screensaver doesn't appear; or that the unit doesn't turn off. Easier than making a movie and burning to DVD as such.

The images are primitive--used a combination of MS Paint and IrfanView. But it's a start.


I was setting up the dvd player, fog machine and projector.
even though the sun was still up ( you can see how much the sun is shinning against the back wall at the end of the video).
I couldnt resist running it.

may still do another test in the dark.
Looks good so far, thanks for uploading the video.
Good job. This proves the concept. Sorry, not sure what to say about fog dissipating too quickly. Maybe try two foggers at once?
do you mean , like a slide projector?
I've read about people doing this with a "Holiday Projector"--which evidently is a kind of slide projector. And making your own "ring" glass slide. There are examples of it out there on HalloweenForum.com somewhere. Probably on one of the threads where I am asking about laser safety.

I'm interested in video projection because it would be a great use of the Wonderwall if it works, and for the variety of patterns abd colors I could cycle through.
wondering if leaving an image playing for hours will "burn" the image into the projector.
Never heard of LCD-screen burn-in. But then I really have no idea. Found out I don't like the JPG slide show function on my DVD player--has only one, slow transition type and I can't set the time between slides. So I may look for free open source slide show to DVD software. Or use Windows Movie Maker.

If you're concerned about burn in, consider changing the size, color, and position of the ring/cone from time to time.
thanks. I will look into it.
you might want to use the high power projector for the tunnel. and use the lower power for the spiders/snakes. dont need high resolution for them
The thing is, it's not so much about resolution as brightness and throw distance. I can project stuff with the DG-747 Digital Galaxy from a second story window onto a concrete pathway at ground level. Did this with my Ghostly Footsteps last Halloween. Also tested out projecting some snakes and spiders from the second story window and it looked great. I know for a fact that my Wonderwall can't do the same thing from the same distance. So I'm thinking it would be best to try the Wonderwall in my garage. Where it should be reasonably dark and wouldn't need much "throw" distance.

Have not conducted any garage experiments yet. But I've pulled out the fogger and Wonderwall and have a DVD ready to try projecting a slideshow of the various JPG images I posted. Hopefully this weekend but no promises. If I don't get to it, then I really need to get both cars out of the garage and onto the driveway. I get up at a ridiculously early time each weekday morning to go to work. So that may be a good time to do a test of the simulated laser vortex via projection.
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Disappointing results with Wonderwall projector for simulated laser vortex effect

I had very disappointing results attempting this effect with the Discovery Wonderwall early AM this morning, when conditions in my garage would be as dark as they'd ever be during trick or treating, e.g. there's a street light across from my house, etc. It was so disappointing that I don't feel it's worthwhile to post any videos. The digital point-and-shoot camera I use for video is fine for lights-on video but terrible in low light.

The concept is absolutely sound--it will work with a sufficiently bright projector. And possibly with the Wonderwall in very near or total darkness.

Thinking my ~2200 to ~2500 lumens Digital Galaxy DG-747 might work. But I'm reluctant to try. Because given the "confined space" of a garage, even with the garage door wide open, I don't know what the fog might do to my projector over an entire evening of use. Was really looking forward to the sheer variety of vortex effects a video projector would allow.

The key really seems to be brightness. And that's where a green laser, so to say, shines. But I'm done thinking about laser safety issues and so still won't deploy with a laser. Since I have two Wonderwalls, I'm potentially willing to sacrifice one by subbing in a different bulb. But so far, I don't know of a single person who has been successful at significantly boosting the lumens output of a Wonderwall.

Wondering how many lumens the Holiday Projectors (using glass slides) have. Anyone know? Or how many lumens an old-school slide projector puts out. May have to start looking through thrift stores again. Or search eBay.

I'd still encourage others with the Wonderwall, or equivalent "toy" projectors like the Shift3, to test. Maybe there's a way to tweak the brightness of the projected image, e.g. creating a thicker ring, using different RGB values for the ring, coming up with some other geometry that when projected is more noticeable (if anyone wants to move away from the classic single "green laser vortex" tunnel), etc. Or even mess with the Wonderwall settings. I think I turned the contrast way down and the color up. You know, when you're doing projected effects of images, you typically try to set the projector so that the border of the rectangle--the area that should be black--isn't noticeable. With this effect, maybe it's ok to pump things up so that the "rectangle" appears. Because the light source is so weak that it will disappear on its own when aimed from the garage to "infinity" (toward the outside). I also forgot to mess with focusing the Wonderwall. Not sure if that would have made a difference. Or playing with color settings on the DVD player itself.

Finally, it was tough getting constant fog--Fred, I experienced the same problem as you with fog dissipating too fast. So I brought in a second fog machine to help with that. I was also fumbling in the darkness with my DVD player in Slideshow mode. One thing I'd do next time is make individual videos of each image that run for several minutes each for easier testing. Although there's a way to get a JPG to play by itself and not cycle to the next one, in practice, fumbling in the dark--and the wee hours of the morning--I never got that to work.
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Here's a link to some photos of the vortex using a holiday projector. The idea is to black out the center of a slide, using only the rim to project:
I remember seeing that pic. It was a project on the monster list.

I just don't feel that it gets the same effect.
The vortex needs a bright light to cut through, so you can see the cross sectionof fog. And a contained ssource of fog to keep it from disipating. It , the fog, needs to be constantly rolling. So when a narrow, bright light cuts through. You see a cross sectionthat is swirling alot.
Almost certain your fog need to be running constanly
I believe you're right that brightness is key for the best impact. Not that it won't work at all with less bright sources. Like you mentioned, it's also important to have sufficient fog for the best impact.

With two foggers in my garage, things may work well enough with my DG-747 projector. Definitely given up on the Discovery Wonderwall. Still haven't tested the DG-747. Lots of weekends left to try. Still need to make a new source video, with a few minutes of each pattern playing. Trying to test with my DVD's built-in slideshow function for JPGs was incredibly frustrating--couldn't set the display time per slide and tough to try to get it to pause with the remote in the dark.
Would an overhead school projector work?

Might an old-school, quite literally, overhead projector work for this effect? A transparency having all black and just a green ring? Wondering how many lumens an overhead projector puts out. Wouldn't get the variety of simulated laser vortex effects I'm after, but might be a cheap way to project a perfectly safe simulated green laser vortex on the cheap.

I recall other threads where people have converted overhead projectors into make-shift video projectors too. So who knows.

I'm still reluctant to use my higher end, higher lumens (compared to a Discovery Wonderwall) Digital Galaxy DG-747 projector (non-LED version) for this effect with lots of fog in my garage--don't know if the fog might harm the projector.
its worth a try.
post your results
I never was able to find a used overhead projector in local thrift stores. And I'm not a fan of Craig's List--too many scams. Guess I could try eBay, but the shipping would expensive. Also wondering what type of replacement bulbs/lamps overhead projectors take--and if they're expensive like lamps for so many projectors, e.g. $100 to $300+ bucks a pop. That's what I love about my DG-747 projector (non-LED version). Decent number of lumens and the replacement lamps are only around $20. And when I bought one new on eBay it came with a replacement lamp.

If I do go ahead and test with my DG-747 projector, I'll post results. May also deploy this *really* crappy "fogger" I bought from Target a few seasons ago when they had two models for sale. I didn't look closely, and it's really more of a hazer. Don't know much about foggers vs. hazers. But I do know stadiums often use hazers during concerts to help illuminate lasers and lighting beams. Wonder if "haze" stays around longer than fog. Anyone know?
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OK, so i found this thread and thought it was awesome, so I decided to try a little something in Photoshop. I made a short video for you guys to try. My projector isn't bright enough. Please let me know if it works and improvements.

I made this to be setup inside an open garage pointing outwards.

Hey, thanks for creating this! Don't know if I'll get a chance to test but this would be a great way to try. What I really need: more high-lumens projectors.
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