Each year more people find new and exciting ways to take their Halloween décor the next level.
Gone are the days when costumes and apple bobbing were enough to entertain a crowd at Halloween. Now electronic animated props show up at parties big and small, lighting is widely used to create atmosphere and generally the quality of the food, decorations and outfits are astounding.
So what’s next? How can you make sure that your house is the spookiest in the neighbourhood? The answer may lie in the recent phenomenon of using projections to create amazing visual effects in your home. And here we give you the information you need to try it for yourself.
Most of us only experience the use of projectors in a work or school setting. But in recent years projectors even became an alternative to widescreen TV’s as consumers sought bigger displays for their home cinema set-ups without having to pay out for huge flat panel screens.
But projectors can be very versatile, showing images on all manner of materials of different shapes and even fog (for all you smoke machine owners out there) indoors and outdoors.
With a bit of planning, you can use them to transform a room or make your house look like a bonfire haunted house from the outside.
Key to any projector set-up is planning. You need to think about where the projection will go, how to make sure it is effective and how to make sure it’ll be safe.
For instance, will the area be dark enough to create an impact? Can you also set up sound (some speakers) for more effect? And if you use it outdoors you’ll have to account for the possibility of wet weather.
Once you’re sure you’ve got cabling, power and safety considered you’ll need:
- A projector
- A device to play content from (DVD player, laptop or tablet)
- A sound system or speakers
- An area to project onto
- Content to play
The most important consideration when choosing a projector is brightness. If you’re buying a projector specifically for Halloween décor, aim for one that is able to project at 2000 lumens or more. This should mean that even if your chosen location has some light intrusion (from street lights or household lighting) you’ll still be able to see your haunting images clearly.
Resolution isn’t that important, so don’t feel you have to go out and spend a mint on a cinema grade projector for this. In fact we managed to track down a bunch of affordable projectors that would be capable of doing the job.
Better still, if you can borrow one from a friend or workplace, it’ll make this little Halloween project even more affordable.
There are two routes to take when it comes to content. Paid or free. Well, I guess you could make your own, but a project like that probably deserves to a post all to itself.
As far as paid options go, there are a few products out there, most notably AtmosFX. They offer some superb visuals, ranging from simple and fun Loops to full on terrifying, realistic scenes. You can take your pick based on your audience.
Their content is available as a digital download or DVD and is a little pricey if you’re after a good amount of footage to play. That said, you won’t be disappointed with the product, their vids are arguably the best on the market.
Other similar products come from companies such as Hi Rez Designs and Digital FX.
You may also be able to pick up some cheaper DVD’s. For instance, we have an old disc given to us years ago which is a selection of Halloween scenes that can be looped. This kind of thing would probably work pretty well depending on what your intentions are.
Free content is out there. There are lots of clips on video sites across the web such as YouTube and so it’s definitely worth doing some digging if you’re on a tight budget. To start you off, here are a few clips that we found.
Once you have the clips, sort your device (DVD player, laptop or tablet) hook it up and make sure that you are able to loop the video. That will prevent you from having to return to your device to restart it ever 30 minutes.
Choosing which surface you project onto comes down to the effect that you’re after. A flat white piece of board will give you nice, clean results but might not be ideal if you’d like to make your venue look gritty and atmospheric.
A good option is to project onto fabric, either from the front or behind. For a window scene you can make it look as if projected figures are actually present in a room this way (see example below).
However, if you use some loose fabric and there’s a little breeze, you could make the image of, say, a spooky spectre look all the more chilling.
If you’re working with fabric it’s best to find a dark mesh material. Some level of transparency will let a hint of the room that you’re projecting in come through and give a more convincing result.
Another option is to project your image onto something a little less conventional. For instance, if you have a dummy with a blank head, you could project a face onto it and make it look like a live, talking person or monster. It takes a bit of work to line things up correctly, but the results are amazing. This is made even more effective if your dummy has animated body parts.
You could also project onto objects like jars, boxes or pumpkins to give the illusion that they too are alive. If you have more than one projector and a few different scenarios set up, you can create a truly immersive experience.
You can see an example of that here:
Finally, another technique that theme parks use is to project onto fog or water. This is a little trickier as you need a steady stream of either substance to make it work.
Here are a few ideas to inspire your projection projects. From daunting doorways to… There are lot of things to try.