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All About Digital Decorations

September 21, 2012 | Posted in How-to


Decking out your house for Halloween is tons of fun, but what if you just don’t have the time, energy or space to go out and buy a bunch of decorations? Or what if you want to add something special to what you’ve already got? If either of these situations sounds familiar, digital decorations are a great way to create a spectacularly spooky experience for your holiday visitors.

In this article, we'll tell you what digitally decorating is all about and show you how you can use our effects to transform your home into the coolest trick-or-treat destination on your block.

Why Digital?

Even if your garage is filled with huge plastic tubs of Halloween goodies and you’re one of those people that squeal when pumpkins and skeletons start hitting the shelves, there are still lots of reasons to check out digital decorations.

Professional Effects Made Easy

You can show off professional-quality effects by using your DVD player and a TV, computer monitor, or projector – equipment that many of you may already own. 

Mess-Free Decorating

Digital decorations let you create environments that are pretty tough to pull off with physical props. For example, one year I had a slaughterhouse-themed party, so I decided to hang plastic sheets all over my walls and spray them with fake blood. It looked cool, but boy was it messy – I was cleaning up red stuff for weeks. Now I use Blood Walls, which lets me splatter gore all over the place…without the actual splatter, of course.

Use That TV

It’s fun to play effects on a television during Halloween parties – your guests get something cool to look at and your TV screen will add extra ambient light to your room.

Projection Effects are Awesome

Projection effects are AWESOME looking and work great anywhere – in windows and on walls, doors, ceilings, and more. They’re also really easy to set up. All you need is a projector and a light colored surface and you’ve got an incredibly eye-catching motion display. Many of our effects, like “Zombie Shadows” from Zombie Invasion! look so real that many people think that there are actually actors standing behind the curtains.

Ready to give digital decorating a try? To help you get started, we'll go over the three most common ways to use our effects and provide some tips that will help you determine the setup that's perfect for your home.

Front Projecting

Front projecting is using a projector to project a decoration directly onto a surface. If you use a projector instead of a TV, it’s pretty likely that this is how you’re already set up. For those of you projecting for the first time, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

Watch the Beam!

If someone walks in front of your projected light beam, their shadow will be cast on the wall, covering up your effect. One solution would be to try to position your projector as high up as possible. If it’s not possible to mount your projector to your ceiling, consider putting it on top of a bookshelf or other tall piece of furniture.

The Right Size

The further your projector is from your wall, the larger the effect images will be. If you’re looking to display really big portraits, cover an entire wall with blood, or freak people out with super-sized bugs, place your projector as far away from the wall as possible. If you prefer to have your zombies or silhouettes look life-sized, you’ll want to place your projector a bit closer to your surface. Be sure to experiment with distance to achieve an effect that’s perfect for the size of your space.

Back Projecting

Back projecting is done by setting up your projector behind a curtain, sheet or other semi-transparent material and projecting through it. (To see a great example of back projection in action, check out our Zombie Containment Unit van from this year’s Comic-con.)

Back projecting is the best way to display effects on windows. It’s also a great way to protect and/or hide your equipment at a party or event where lots of people are walking around. Because everything is behind a façade, you don’t have to worry about folks walking in front of the projection beam, tripping on cords or stomping on your projector in the dark. If back projecting is the way you’d like to go, here are a few tips:

Make Room

Make sure you have the space to do it! Projectors need to be a certain distance away from their surface to display properly, so depending on the projector and how big you’d like the effect to be, this distance can vary from a few feet to many feet. If you have a small room and don’t want to spare the space between your projection surface and wall, consider front projecting.

Choose the Right Surface

For back projecting, we recommend using a light colored, semi-transparent material. While it’s best to experiment to see what you like best, we’ve found that shower curtains and white bed sheets work great. Or, in the case of our van, we had excellent results with opaque plastic film. As a rule, if you go too clear you’ll be able to see the beam of light from the projector and the effect will be faint. If you go too dark, the effect may be hard to make out. It’s all about finding that middle sweet spot.

Televisions and Monitors

While we recommend using a projector for effects like Shades of Evil and Blood Walls, every one of our decorations can also be displayed on a TV or monitor. Here are a few creative ways that we’ve seen folks use their screens:

Add a Frame

UnLiving Portraits looks especially cool on horizontally-flipped widescreen TVs! For some added pizzazz, find a picture frame that fits your set (or make one out of craft store foam and paint) and attach it to the front to simulate an elegant portrait.

Haunt your TV

Playing "Terrorvision", a decoration that’s part of our Triple Thrill Pack, on an older TV is REALLY creepy and will turn your room into a scene straight from Poltergeist.

A Fire-less Fireplace

For some added ambiance, place a TV inside of your fireplace and use it to display "Flames from Hell", another effect from the Triple Thrill Pack. Or, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can take a page from professional haunts and create your very own Pepper’s Ghost effect.

It's Your Turn!

Will you be decorating digitally this year? If so, we’d love to see how you use our effects! Send your pictures or links to your videos to community@atmosfearfx.com.

Happy haunting!

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