Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dia de los Muertos, Part One

"If you're an adult and you're planning to wear a costume at Halloween... Don't. I will find you. I will hurt you."
--Lewis Black

With all due respect to Mr. Black, Halloween is one of my Top Two holidays. I'm not above wearing a costume, though it's a fine line: you don't want to be that guy who works just a little too hard getting into character. For example, I think it's fine to have an emergency Starfleet tunic hanging in the closet, but you've gotta wear it with a pair of ordinary black pants and shoes. If you're over the age of 20 and you've also got zippered calf boots and specially tailored pants with flared cuffs and no pockets (everyone knows Starfleet pants don't have pockets), that's too much.

Over the years I've built up a nice assortment of props we scatter around the front yard every Halloween. I try to build something new each year, though they don't all work and some get retired in favor of better ones. Since I have finite space in my yard to display them and in my garage to store them, I've gotten better at making props that are light and break down easily.

I already revealed this year's addition, though I've made a few changes since posting that video, such as swapping the belt drive for a more steady and reliable chain drive using junked bicycle parts. Works great, and looks great in the dark.

The ghosts below are incredibly unimpressive in daylight but look very nice at night, gently wafting in the corner. I light them dimly so you might not even notice them at first, but you catch them out of the corner of your eye. Simple and effective.

Below is my pride and joy, the Ghost Catcher, displayed in my garage window. Unfortunately, it's too dark to see the details. The video opens with a wide shot of a mad (or at least mildly peeved) scientist's lab on the left and the Ghost Catcher on the right. It then zooms into the window of the high-voltage (1.21 gigawatts) machine I use to trap trespassing ghosts. Looks like I got three already.

Half the people who try to guess how this works think it's holograms. Nope. The technique is much lower tech--in fact, magicians have used it for more than a century--and (spoiler alert!) it's the same one used in the ballroom of Disney's various Haunted Mansions.

These are the only two props I set up early. I've got a couple of other good ones I'll try to photograph tonight, but it's difficult--both because of the darkness and the visitors. You may've noticed they're all ghosts, without a vampire, mummy, or werewolf in sight. That's deliberate. In the small space available, I'm trying to tell one story. This is the house where the mischievous green ghosts arise, some of whom are temporarily detained by the ghostbusting scientist who lives there. No need to throw in the kitchen sink.

And yeah, I've got a Ghostbusters jumpsuit. No nuclear-powered plasma-shooting proton pack, though; that would be too much.


R said...

Yay! I'm actually surprised that you could catch so much of the ghost catching machine on video...
You should really publish a short story about our house and it's "ghost infestation" so that more people come.

Kid Sis said...

We watched Ghostbusters on Sunday for Movie night :) Still holds up.

The Drive-by Blogger said...

"swapping the belt drive for a more steady and reliable chain drive using junked bicycle parts"

You sir, are the Macgyver of the macabre. Happy Halloween!

Lynda said...

I wear black clothing and a witch hat for Halloween. And I fill a cauldron with candy. Is the cauldron too much?

Or maybe it was the spooky noises tape....

Brian Fies said...

Ghostbusters is a classic. The girls and their friends (all born after it was made) watched it on Halloween and enjoyed it completely.

"If someone asks you if you're a god, you say 'Yes!'"

Drive-By, if I had the courage to buy an air compressor and get into pneumatic props, I would be unstoppable. Also probably divorced. I am proud of my chain drive, though, and it worked like a dream.

Lynda, if a candy cauldron is wrong, then I don't wanna be right.

ronnie said...

the drive-by blogger wrote:

You sir, are the Macgyver of the macabre.

You should see what he can do with a protractor.


Brian Fies said...

Gosh, Ronnie, I thought you were my friend....

Plasma Cutting Machines said...

Wow! That's quite a sight. And the Back to the Future reference wasn't lost on me, either :)

Brian Fies said...

Thanks, Plasma! Love the name. Outside my family, I think you're the only one who caught the 1.21 gigawatts. The ghost catcher also has a flux capacitor on board.

Anonymous said...

cool videos!


My Photocommunity