We’ve been a fan of Zach Breaux for several years, ever since he sent us a great Halloween “how-to” video back in 2016 when he first discovered digital decorating. But we're not the only ones – the entire neighborhood around his Metairie, Louisiana, home are also big fans. It is easy to see why – Zach's ever-growing Halloween display is, at once, simple and meticulously detailed. Just like his neighbors, we love watching how it has grown over the years.
Zach was honored as an AtmosFAN of the Week back in 2016. (You can see the article here.) Now, years later, the stuff he built back then still looks great – as does the new stuff! That got us thinking that it’d be fun to check in with him and talk about the changes he’s seen in digital decorating in the past several years. First, his 2016 Halloween display.
For someone who, prior to 2016, had never decorated for Halloween, it is impressive how Zach went all-in. The chatty gourds of Jack-O’-Lantern Jamboree look great; as does the window projection of Witching Hour, including how he individually cut his Premium Window Projection Material for each pane of glass. And an FM transmitter to broadcast the soundtrack? That's an above-and-beyond first effort!
Now, here's his video from last year, Halloween 2019.
As you can see, a lot of elements he used four years prior are still on display – and looking great. Since then, Zach built a terrific archway that helps disguise the framework on which he hangs his Hollusion Projection Material. “I enjoy challenging myself to build props that allow the digital decorations to seamlessly blend with their physical counterparts,” he says. “My proudest examples are my tombstone that doubles as a weather-proof projector housing and a cemetery archway that conceals a scrim of Hollusion Projection Material.”
One of the things we love about Zach's Halloween display is the detail, while still not being overwhelming. That's clearly by design. “One of the best parts about decorating for Halloween is the evolution that happens year after year with my decorations,” he tells us. “During each off-season, I spend as much time as I can watching videos, reading tutorials, and speaking with members of the Halloween decorating community in order to make improvements for the upcoming year.
“One thing I have learned is that less can definitely be more,” Zach adds. “When it comes to putting my haunt together, I love using scenes to create a story that the viewer can immerse themselves in. If there are too many decorations happening at the same time, it can just be visually overwhelming.”
Zach tells us that he's seeing more people digitally decorate each year – something he attributes to the cost of high-quality projectors coming down. He says he expects to see a continued growth in whole house projection mapping, too. “That seems to be everyone’s digital decorating goal,” he says.
Over the years, Zach created Toil&Trouble’sDIY YouTube channel to share how he creates his Halloween magic with others. There, he has a few “how-to” videos, some Q&A sessions – even projector recommendations. Clearly, sharing the joy of Halloween decorating with others – both in his neighborhood and online – is a big reason Zach continues to do what he does so well.
“My favorite part of decorating for Halloween is seeing how it affects my entire neighborhood, as we are endearingly referred to as ‘The Halloween House,’” Zach tells us. “Starting in September, the neighborhood anticipation grows palpable as I get asked daily when I am going to begin setting up. I love seeing people parked out front of our house each night during the month of October to watch the show and their subsequent excitement when they see the new additions that we have added. The excitement culminates on Halloween night as I get to interact with all of my neighbors for trick-or-treating. By that time, some of the neighborhood children have seen the show so many times that they know it heart and can tell me what scene will be popping up next! Without fail, they always ask, ‘What are you going to add next year?’ ”
It is true – your neighbors aren't the only ones who are excited to find out what you are going to create next. So do the rest of us! Great stuff, Zach!
How are you preparing for the upcoming Halloween? What are you creating? Share it with your fellow decorators – you'll inspire all of us! It is easy to send photos and videos through this handy submission form – you might even be the next AtmosFAN of the Week!