Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grave Popper With Sound!

Hey guys,

Just finished looking for what sound I'm going to use with the Grave Popper prop.  Now that I've got that figured out, I though I'd add it to the construction video I posted a couple of days ago to see if it works.

It was so much fun I thought I'd post it.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Grave Popper!

Hey guys,

Okay. I thought it was time I introduce you to our new pneumatic prop for this year. 

The Grave Popper!

The idea is simple enough. A zombie has dug his way out of his grave and is stuck. It's design is simple enough so let's take a look at what we have so far. Of course, click each pic and you'll get a bigger image.

I made his frame from scrap 2x4 I had lying around. Gate hinges make the shoulders, elbows and wrists. The PVC pipe is for the neck and the part that extends below the shoulders is for stability. All of this is mounted on a scrap piece of 3/4" plywood. The pneumatic cylinders were purchased from frightprops.com as was the mounting hardware. I used wood screws and bolts with stop nuts on the hinges. Here, you will also see wood screws holding the cylinder hardware in place. 

Here you see the pneumatic lines attached to the cylinders as well as the solenoids that controls the direction of the airflow to the cylinders. You can also see where the air supply attaches to a regulator that limits the airflow into the prop. I've also added a jug to the neck for the eventual mask that will be added. He also has a tie around his neck. He was buried after all. You will also notice I have removed the wood screws from the cylinder hardware and upgraded to bolts. Running this prop for 5 minutes proved the screws would not hold (something I was warned about but didn't pay any attention to).

A closer look.

And a look from behind. The big, black box is the prop controller I ordered from frightprops.com. With this little box I record the movements of the prop and then loop it. Very cool! So professional! :)

I also added some foam at the bottom of the prop support (something not shown in the above pics nor in the video below). This helps to muffle the "thump" heard when the support rod slams into the base.

And of course, here's a video...

So, this is not what he will look like. although I love it when his hat falls off and the mask spins to look directly at the camera. That mask is the mask I wear Halloween night so the Grave Popper clearly can't have that!  I'm going to find a zombie mask and some zombie hands as well as an old, second hand shirt and possibly jacket, provided I can find a cheap one.

I will of course show you what he looks like when he's complete.


Monday, September 8, 2014

New Column Toppers!


Yesterday I told you guys what our plans for this year are. Now, I'd like to share with you something Lynn is working on, the new Column Toppers.

As I may have mentioned, it rained all October last year and the rain completely ruined the new pumpkin toppers we built. I say "we", but really it's all her.  Anyway, to replace those, we thought we'd do something like in the image above. Creepy, zombie like hands holding a lantern. We got the idea from a prop in the Fright Props 2014 catalog, where I get all my pneumatic supplies, but instead of buying it we decided to build our own.

So, how are we going to do that?

To start, Lynn is making the arms and hands.

Their construction is pretty easy. You get some 3/4" PVC pipe and a 45° elbow. Attache the elbow using PVC primer and glue. Then, shape some Bic pens to look like fingers and attach to the wrist using wire. Tie it all together using duct tape. Once the glue dries, add cotton for joints and cover with liquid latex. I make it sound easy, but they do require a large amount of artistic flare.

And for a closer look...

Next, I'll construct the base pedestal which will support the arm and the lantern. To be honest, I have no idea how I'm gonna do that.

Guess I'll make that another post!

More to come...


Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's That Time Again!

Hey everyone!

It's September and that means it's time to start thinking about the Hollow!

Okay, in truth, we've been thinking about it for a month now. That's what we do. We start planning in August, flush out the ideas and start in September.

So, what will we be doing?

It's funny, because when I list it out it seems a little, well, meh. Why? Because in the end, it will look as though we only added a couple new things. But, in truth, we are going to be very busy this year.

  1. Completely automate our existing pneumatic props (Coffin Guy, Vampire in a Box and Andersan the Tombstone Breaker). What do I mean by "completely automate"? Last year, I ran all the air lines to solenoids mounted on the bridge that were manually triggered by our support staff. The problem with this plan was that as the night went on, and our support staff became more and more intoxicated, the triggering of the props became less and less. What can I say? You can't get good, sober support staffers anymore. So, this year, I am buying PicoBoo prop controllers and each prop will be automated! Now all staffers can feel free to drink as much as they please, which they were pretty much doing already anyway so carry on staffers! Carry on!
  2. Build a new pneumatic prop! Were calling him a Ground Breaker. Not sure if that completely qualifies, but that's the name we're going with. He will be a corpse who has dug his way out of the ground and is pulling himself up, but with difficulty. I wish I was using an original design but after a lot of research I couldn't think of a better way to do it then this gentleman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46RycwjIvs8. It's just so violent in its movement and I love it! Of course, this new prop will be automated as well.
  3. New Column Toppers. Yes, we had a problem with our newly constructed pumpkin column toppers last year. The rain (it rained the entire month of October last year) completely destroyed them. So, Lynn is making new, water proof toppers. They will be a creepy, decaying arms holding a lantern. I have pictures I will show you later. They're going to be brilliant!
  4. We're going to build a new, old gate. This may take some explaining. Have you ever been to a really old cemetery? If you have, then you probably noticed a really old, run down road with a very cool looking gate that is chained up and out of order. When you ask about it, they tell you that used to be the entrance a hundred years ago, before the expansion of the cemetery back in the early 1900's. Well, back in the early 2000's, the Hollow was much smaller and only covered a few square feet of space. People walked up the main walk to get their candy and exited using the same path. So, we're going to honor our past by building a grand ole gate and placing it on the old cemetery path. We haven't started it yet, but I will of course have pictures later.
  5. All original tombstones. That's right, no more store bought tombstones. And, since Hollinger Hollow is a family cemetery, the tombstones are going to have family names. Of course, we won't use actual full names (or at least we will do our best to avoid that) because that may be a little too creepy, but they will have genuine surnames. There will also be a couple joke tombstones, with people from works of fiction. You know, just to be silly.
  6. Fix the tree! Yes, the tree we worked so hard on last year succumbed to it's own weight and is falling over on itself. Having never done a tree like that before, we used a skeleton of PVC pipe and chicken wire. In the end, the weight of all the foam was too much for the skeleton to support. Looking back on it, I would have done so many things different, but we spent so much time and money on the tree that scrapping it would be a terrible waste. So, I have no idea how, but I'm going to fix the tree.
And there you go. We have a lot of work ahead of us and in the end its only gonna look like we added a couple new things. Still, as long as the weather permits, we will get everything lit properly, something that was not done last year due to all the rain, and added to the fact Halloween is on a Friday this year, we should have a fantastic Hollow!

Stay tuned...

More to follow!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hollinger Hollow 2013 Walkthrough!

Hey guys!

Normally, I would show you the video first and then do a quick description but this year, I feel I have to do it a little differently.

Due to the 11th hour nature of this years Hollow, I wasn't able to light the graveyard as well as I have in the past.

That caused the movie image to be incredibly dark.  So dark, I had to do a lot of lightening of the image in post.  That, unfortunately, messes with the color of the film as well as makes it rather grainy.

To add to that, by the time I get to the bridge, the fog in the Hollow is very thick and that makes it even more difficult to watch.

So, please keep the above in mind when viewing the video...

And there you go.

I also want to point out that to the left of the bridge is the Sarcophagus (Monster in a Box) and if you squint really hard, you may see the lid moving up and down really fast.  This, unfortunately, is the only image of this prop this year.

Not to worry though.  I plan on doing a review of the Sarcophagus as well as Andersan the Tombstone Breaker within the next couple of weeks.  I never showed how they were built because I honestly wasn't sure if I'd get them done in time.

I also need to go over some of the problems we had setting up this year so keep an eye on the blog for the next month or so.

See you then!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween 2013!

Hey guys!

First off, let me apologize for the lack of updates last week.  I suspect if you look at previous years you will see I do very little updates the week of Halloween, but I don't think I've ever gone without any posts leading up to the big day.

There are many reasons for my lack of updates and since this is a blog I will tell you about it... later.

Right now, let me share some pictures of the night with you!

The Gargoyle Entrance!

Sebastian Hollinger's resting place.

The Coffin Breaker!

It wouldn't be Halloween without Hollis Weeb!

The Mausoleum!

Lynn in the Mausoleum!

Added just this year...

Say "Hello" to Andersan!

Coming up on...

The Haunted Tree!

The Hell Hole, with burning coals!  The coals are new!

Lynn and the Spider Guy!

The Coffin Guy!

The Hollow Exit!
And there you go!

Sorry for the quality of some of the pics.  I apparently didn't have the night filter set for all the pictures and had to doctor some of them up in Gimp just to be able to make them out.  I wish I had noticed the poor quality of some of the pictures Halloween night but I'm sure you understand that I'm a little busy that night and a lot of my attention is other places.

One of the things I wish I had photographed was an upgrade to one of our props, the Sarcophagus Guy.  In short, we animated it with an effect known as the "monster in the box".  Basically, a small cylinder opens and closes the lid really fast, as though something inside is trying to get out.  I added a chain across the top of the lid and that is the reason it appears whatever is inside can't get out.  It is a very easy effect to create and when all was said and done, I think it was the biggest new addition this year.  I really thought it was going to be the Haunted Tree and Andersan Tombstone Breaker (although both were a big hit).

It just goes to show, you never really know what people will walk away loving.

There is also a video, but like some of the pictures, it didn't really come out.  I'm going to see what I can do with it and post it in the next couple of days.

Also, later on, I will tell you about all of the difficulties we had bringing you Hollinger Hollow this year. 

I'll give you a hint, most of it involves 2 weeks of nothing but rain!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unobstructed View of the Haunted Tree!

Hey everyone,

Below I posted some new pics of the Hollow but it occurred to me that you don't really get a very good look at the Haunted Tree.

That's not right, so I thought I'd show you a couple pics of the tree without a bridge sitting in front of it.

The backside/street side of the tree (obviously, before we moved it to the Hollow).

The Haunted Tree in a tombstone free graveyard.
And there you go.  Hopefully, all our hard work shows!


Haunted Tree and Tombstones Finally in the Hollow!

Hey guys,

What a busy weekend.

First, we finished the Haunted Tree and moved it into the Hollow!

This also meant that we were able to get into the attic and pull the rest of the decorations down.  So, we now have the Haunted Tree and the tombstones displayed in the Hollow...

Left of the bridge, looking into the Hollow.

The Haunted Tree sits proudly in the middle of the Hollow.
And, somehow, I managed to not take a picture to the right of the bridge.  I really have no idea how I did that.  I'm certain I took the picture but I just don't have it.

Truthfully, that's alright.  I only took those quick pictures as it was starting to rain.  I plan on getting better pics in the next couple of days.

Plus, now that the tree is done, we move on to the other projects we have in store for this year.

I will keep you posted.