Monday, August 17, 2015

2015 Season is Here!

Hey everyone!

It's August and although this is my first post we've been working on the Hollow for a couple of weeks now!

So, what have we been doing?

We're building a new mausoleum.  Why you ask?  Cause the old one is old, and falling apart and basically weights a ton and it's getting harder and harder to move and set up as I get older and older.

I built that first mausoleum out of 2x2's, 1/2 inch plywood with a 2x6 base.  Even though it broke down into separate components each component still weighs quite a bit.  The advantage is that we never had to worry about it blowing over, but that was the only advantage.

The new mausoleum is built out of 1x2's, glued and screwed, with a foam exterior.  To give credit where it is due, we used TK421's Haunted Hollow Mausoleum Build's design, with a few modifications.  I used 2 rails across the top peak and added extra rails to the roof sections.  I glue and screw all of my builds for better adhesion to include when attaching the foam.  I've found that screwing the foam after gluing helps ensure all of the surface area of the foam glues properly to the rails.

Really? Why didn't I move the mausoleum a foot to the right before taking this picture? That post totally blocks the view! 

See? I can move it to the right to avoid the post!

Fancy! This mausoleum will have a chandelier. 

Now, this is where we stop following TK421's design.  We're gonna decorate the exterior our own way.  Not because we don't like TK421's design.  We love it!  It's absolutely brilliant but we don't' want to blatantly rip him off.  That would be rude!  Not completely sure what we're gonna do to finish it off, but we'll think of something and, of course, will post pictures.

So, what else do we have planned for this year?

We're gonna upgrade our pneumatic props to include sound in their design as apposed to trying to sync the sound using MP3 players.  We're also going to amplify the sound so you can hear it better.

Of course, we're adding a new pneumatic prop this year and it will be added to the new mausoleum.  What are we doing?  More on that later.  :)

We also will be continuing our tombstone build with the idea being to replace all store bought tombstones with homemade tombstones that bear family names.

We will be building decayed sarcophagi to hide our fog machines.  In the past, we've hidden the fog machines around the perimeter and although this was fine it always took a while for the fog to proliferate throughout the cemetery.  Hopefully, putting the fog machines in the middle of the cemetery and hiding them will speed this process along.  Also, the fog bleeding through the sarcophagi should look pretty cool!

This is all just off the top of my head.  We still have to sit down and write up a list of everything we want to do.  I'll show you that later as we still have yet to do it.

That said, I hope it's obvious we have huge plans for this year.

I'm so glad the haunting season has officially started.  More to come so check back every now and then.

This year should be a lot of fun.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Last Post for 2014!

Hey guys,

Alright. So, as the title suggests, this will probably be my last posting for the year and I thought I'd go over a couple of things.

First, I thought I'd talk about what our goals for the year were and discuss if they were accomplished.

  1. Completely automate the pneumatic props. Yes! We did it! All four of our pneumatic props, Coffin Guy, Andersan the Tombstone Breaker, Vampire in a box and the newly constructed Ground Popper were completely automated. I programmed them using PicoBoo Prop Controllers and they worked flawlessly.
  2. Build a new pneumatic prop. Yes! The Ground Breaker was awesome, but he did have his challenges. He didn't move as violently as I wanted him to. The reason was faulty building on my part. I failed to realize how all that violent motion would impact the prop and less than an hour into the evening he broke! He broke his wrist and threw out the alignment in his back. I was able to fix this but I had to slow him down considerably to manage operation throughout the rest of the night. This made him look less scary in my mind but people seemed genuinely freaked out by him.
  3. Build new column toppers to replace the destroyed ones from last year. Yes! We built them and they looked brilliant.
  4. Build a New, Old Gate. Kinda! We did build most of the new gate, but in the end, didn't have time to build the "gate" part of the gate. So, what we ended up with was a new Hollinger Hollow Cemetery sign. As it turned out, the sign looked so good we may not bother to make it a gate next year so I'm gonna say this was accomplished.  :)
  5. All original tombstones. No, we didn't replace all the store bought tombstones. This goal was, in truth, not achievable. We have a lot of store bought tombstones and the Hollow is pretty big. Add that to the level of detail Lynn is putting into her tombstones and there was no way we were going to be able to replace all the store bought ones. I figure in about two or three more Halloweens all the tombstones will have family names on them.
  6. Fix the tree. Well, no, but it really didn't need fixing. Yes, it still is leaning more than I would like, but the tree actually looked pretty good. So, we just put it in the yard and you can see it in the video walkthroughs. So, nothing really to fix here.

Second, I'd like to share some thoughts on the year.  Mostly, because this blog is my way of taking notes for next year!

As you can see above, we really did finish everything I thought was important at the beginning of the year. So, as far as getting everything done that we thought was important to having a great year then this year was one of our best.

I'll even go further by adding to the list of things done. For the first time ever, our props had sound! The Twins Tombstone had the sound of ghost babies crying. Ground Popper sounded like a struggling zombie. Vampire in a Box (aka Sarcophagus Guy) sounded like a demon trying to escape. Coffin Guy screamed like a crazy man when he opened his casket lid. We even got the Projector Tombstone working, sound and all.

But, there were some flaws. 

The sounds weren't nearly loud enough. We'll have to figure out a way to amplify the sounds if they are ever going to add to the scare. 

Of course, I already talked about how the Ground Popper broke an hour into operation and we had to slow him down to keep him from breaking again. We had a similar problem with Vampire in a Box. His lid was opening and closing so fast that the sound of the wooden lid slamming on the wooded frame made conversation on the bridge impossible. To counter that, I had to slow down how often the lid opened and closed. Again, something that should have been scary was a little less scary due to a lack of planning. To counter that, Coffin Guy and Andersan the Tombstone Breaker weren't fast enough and I would have sped them up but that would have thrown off the sync in the sound so I left them alone. Another case of scary not being scary enough.

Then there is the matter of the turnout. Hollinger Hollow has in past years had anywhere between 600 to 1000 visitors. Sadly, this year, we came in around 200 to 300 people. Last year, we were so excited because Halloween was on a Friday this year. We never for one minute stopped to think about how Friday night in Texas is reserved for High School Varsity Football. 

That's right. I'm afraid that Friday Night Lights caused us to have a terrible turnout at the Hollow this year. The worst part is that despite the things I listed above, this truly had the makings to be our best year to date. And that is leaving something of a hole in my happy feeling for all the great things we did this year.

But, no worries. These things happen. Everything I've mentioned as needing work are easily fixed and we already have so many ideas for what to do next year.

So, see you in August, when the blog will once again become active and we will lay out what we plan on doing for Hollinger Hollow 2015!

See you then!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Couple More Videos!

Hey everyone!

I though as long as I was at it I would add a couple more videos we did last week.

The first is a daytime walkthrough of the Hollow on Halloween. Everything is in place, the power and air lines are connected, we're ready to go.

The reason I want to show you this is just to emphasize how different things look in the daytime.

But I'll let you be the judge...

And that's what everything looks like in the daylight.

The second video is of the Coffin Guy.  I recorded this right after programming him and I thought I'd show you this because I'm not sure you've ever really gotten a good look at him.

So, here he is...

And there you go.

Tomorrow, I will share my thoughts on the year.  I think it was one of our most successful when considering everything we set out to do. Too bad we had so few trick-or-treaters this year.

More on that later.

2014 Walk Through Video!

Hey guys,

Here it is, the 2014 Hollinger Hallow Walk Through Video!

Before I show it, I want to let you know about the sounds I added.

Of course, I always do some sort of ambient sound on these videos. One thing that is different this year is that several of our props had sounds! I didn't want to lose that on the walk through video but I also didn't want to put you through all the talking that was going on during the video shoot. So, I added the actual sounds used for the props to the video. The props that have sound are the Twins Tombstone, The Grave Popper, Vampire in a Box, Coffin Guy and Andersan the Tombstone Breaker. The Projection Tombstone also has sound but I somehow left that off this video and in an attempt to get this video posted today I decided not to go back and add it.

So, here's the video...

And there you go.

I will also be adding a daytime walk through as well as making some comments on how this year went later on.

So, please keep checking in on the blog for a couple more days.

Talk to you later!

Pics From Last Week!

Hey everyone,

Wow! What a week! We still haven't finished cleaning everything up!

I will share my thoughts on this year in a later post. What I want to do here is hit you with some of the pics we took.

So, here we go...

The Grave Popper Completed! (We still don't have a name for him yet)

Grave Poppers tombstone.

Our new sign installed!

One of our new, silly tombstones.

Lynn's costume in the light!

Lynn's costume in the dark!

The new column topper.

A look at the toppers placed at the exit.

The Skulls Tombstone!

A last second addition, made from things we had lying around.

The Twins Tombstone. Wait until you see it in the walk through video!

And everything in the backyard November 1st.  Well, most things.

And there you have it. Just some pics we took the week of (and the day after) Halloween.

Next up, the walk through!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Were'd That Cemetery Come From?

Hey guys,

As promised, I started setting up the Hollow over the weekend.

Here are some pics...

The entrance.

Further down the sidewalk.

Coming up on the exit.

For some reason, I'm walking through the Hollow backwards.

The Bridge

The Hell Hole. It really does look better at night, all lit up with a charred skeleton climbing out.

The Mausoleum.

Entering the Hollow.

Yeah, for some reason, when I took the pics, I walked through the Hollow backwards. That's to say, I entered through the exit. Not really sure why I did that. I guess I was tired and not thinking. And, because of the way I'm facing, I can't flip the order of the pics because that looks odd.

But, I guess the point of this post is to show you that we've finally started setting up the display and I guess this does that.

You may have noticed that the new tombstones aren't in place yet. That's simply because they were getting a second coating of polyurethane and couldn't be put out front yet. Not to worry, they will be out front shortly.

So, later this week I will be setting up the lighting. Then we will finish the new Hollinger Hollow sign. I've been calling that the New Old Gate but the truth is that we won't have time to build the "gate" part of the gate so when we're done it will simply look like a sign, which is fine. It will still look good and next year we will complete the gate.

Halloween day we will put out the pneumatic props, run the hoses, put down the hay in the yard and spread the mulch along the walk way and that will finish up the display.

Until then, we still have some things to add/build and I will be sure to keep you up to date.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

There Be Tombstones Here!

Hey everyone,

So, as promised, here are some pics of this years new tombstones....

The Cross Tombstone will definitely be for the Grave Popper.

Here's a nice, funny tombstone!

I watched this come together and I still can't believe how great it looks!

The Twins are demoned out!

And as great as they look in the daylight, they are even better at night.

These will definitely be where people can see them!

Fingers crossed, I set up the Hollow "foundation" tomorrow!

I'll let you know.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Been Working Hard.... Despite All the Rain!

Hey guys,

Well, the first two weeks of October have passed and we still don't have the Hollow set up.  This is extremely disappointing but that is not a sign that we haven't been hard at work.  I can sum up our lack of progress in one word.  RAIN!

That's right, just like last year, October has been our rainiest (if that's even a word) month and has rained the last two weekends.  Saturday was dry, but the yard was such a mud filled mess we couldn't set anything up. Incredibly frustrating.

But we've been working as much as we can.

Lynn is making tremendous progress on the new tombstones and she's even started the new, Old Gate. I've automated 3 of our 4 pneumatic props and have started Lynn's new costume.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures yet. Not to worry, we have been taking pics, I just don't have them with me to post today.

But, I will have updates later this week and rain and mud aside, I will setup the Hollow this week!

So, keep checking in.  Updates are coming!