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View Full Version : Your set is WORTHLESS unless people can see it!



thrilltainment
04-02-2010, 12:52 PM
Lesson if you don't read the rest of the post: INSTALL YOUR LIGHTS FIRST, THEN DETAIL YOUR SET! :eek:

Last year while creating Shanghai Nightmare (http://www.shanghainightmare.com), I found myself spending lots of time on set detail, animatronics, and props. But then after I installed my lights --- the effect was completely different! (in a bad way)

Many things that I spent a lot of time and effort on, weren't even visible after I did my lighting. So why not put more lights in there? Because it made the rooms TOO BRIGHT and not so scary anymore.

Don't even get me STARTED on color... painting your set under normal light vs. what it looks like under your spotlight is COMPLETELY different.

I understand a lot of people in this industry take pride in the detail of their set, they even get competitive about it, especially when other haunters come visit --- of course, they want to put on a good show. However, remember that your haunt is mostly for the GENERAL PUBLIC, NOT other haunters.

The general public doesn't care about how detailed your set is, UNLESS THEY CAN SEE IT.

So here's my suggestion for those looking to redesign or set up a new haunt this season: START WITH YOUR LIGHTING FIRST! It will save you a LOT of time.

1. Get your floor plan drafted up
2. Set up all the walls in your haunt
3. Go in and test out your lighting effects: walk around with the lights you're about to install to find the best angle, best color, and best position for them. Imagine where your props, animatronics, and details will be BEFORE you place them. It may use a bit more imagination to see where everything is, but TRUST ME, it'll save you from wasting time on details that your customers won't even see!
4. Install all of your lighting fixtures
5. Detail your set with your set lights ON. DON'T detail in plain white light. This will save you a lot of time when choosing colors ---- for example: if you have a red flood light hitting a wall... everything you paint on that wall will end up being a shade of red to black. So why not just use ONLY those 2 colors? Who's gonna see your haunt with the lights on anyway?

I feel that lighting is SO important, and underrated that I developed my own lighting system. Your haunt is only as good as what your customers can see (and hear, and feel).

just my $0.02. feel free to offer some differing opinions.

freak 'n' stein
04-02-2010, 11:36 PM
ooooooh, I have to disagree 100%!!! You were correct in saying the show is for the general public.

Sure, while the general public won't see most of the MINUTE details in your set with the lights down, you still have to detail your sets for OTHER reasons.

I tell our people all the time, I want to be impressed with the lights on or the lights off! Larry said it best; you don't do it for the customers as much as the media. When you invite the news crews and other haunters into your event with the lights on, it should be detailed enough to peak interest and look GREAT in photos and vids!! If I had gone to the Darkness last week and seen nothing but black walls with little areas of decorated sets, I would've been PISSED!! We start working on our event, like most, at the end of the previous season. That gives us 365 days to do whatever we need to take care of. I guess I don't have the super-ability to IMAGINE where my prop pieces are going, therefore, I need to do lighting last. I figure you set it up the way you WANT it then light the scene accordingly. That method has apparently worked with AMAZING results for many haunters in the industry.

I feel like you have to know when to go into extreme detail and when you can cut a corner or two. If you truly planned out all the elements in your head prior, you'd know, "hey this hallway is gonna be dark, let's not put this extremely detailed prop in this hallway cause I really want the customers to see it."

I could go on forever, but I digress.

...and with that, there are my .02 cents!!

thrilltainment
04-03-2010, 02:56 AM
I agree that the set should look great for the press, so in that case we have a few scenes that ARE extremely detailed and we limit access of media to those sets. We don't let the press see everything for two reasons: 1. you don't want to reveal everything 2. not every type of effect looks good through pictures or video.

I toured the Darkness as well last week --- I loved it. Do you see how many lights are in there? A low estimate would be 1000. Once again, what good is the scenery if you can't see it? You can SEE a lot of detail in there.

My last point: not everyone in this industry has the luxury of a permanent haunt to work on it for the full year. Many haunters, including myself, can only get seasonal locations --- you get 1 month at most to build everything. Of course, this also applies to home haunters. I'm sure most wives won't let their husbands keep the garage as a haunted house year round either =)

So when you're time constrained, I believe cutting the unseen corners is a viable option.

wipp
04-03-2010, 08:22 AM
i have tried it both ways,detailing in haunt lights and detailing in real lighting. for me the best is to detail in real lighting and then add overall lighting to set. if lights are to bright dim them.if its to dark add pin spots to highlight what you want them to see. someone here years ago said "no1 notices your detail,they notice when there is no detail" i have to agree with that. the badboys are like my mentors and they paint in haunt lighting so i guess its whatever works for you

thrilltainment
04-03-2010, 11:08 AM
"no1 notices your detail,they notice when there is no detail"
I definitely agree to that statement. However, those details need to be somewhat visible for it to serve its purpose. If there's a section that's pitch black, the customer's won't notice the lack of detail in that section. This year I may have some part of my haunt pitch black and have the guests feel their way through, there will be textures on the walls (bones and skulls) --- however, I probably won't be spending my time painting it.

I've seen what the Bad Boys do, and it's amazing work --- so don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the profession of set designers/builders, I just wanted to emphasize the importance of lighting in this thread.

Lighting is what ultimately shows off all the hard work you've put into your haunt. Without proper lighting, no one will see the details.

Last year while touring with HauntCon, I've seen some haunts that were really dark, quite effective by the way, but when we went through with the lights-on tour, we were all saying to ourselves --- "wow! i didn't know that was there, i wish i could have seen that in the dark!" so a lot of the hard work put into those haunts without proper lighting goes unnoticed, unfortunately.


--- of course there's also the other extreme: pitch black haunted houses. in terms of scares, these will often get a lot of people to bail out early. in terms of costs, it's probably much cheaper than a fully detailed haunt, and in terms of lighting ---- what lighting? =)
i've been through a very effective one last year at Wisconsin Feargrounds, the only lights they had was an occasional strobe or two --- it worked well. However, those haunts are usually there to supplement a main haunt with all the lights and details.

freak 'n' stein
04-04-2010, 10:13 AM
I guess you are talking about two completely different things, because if your haunt is pitch black then yes, it's complete absurd to detail that set. The only part of our attraction that is COMPLETELY black is the maze in the middle. There are black walls with textures on the walls and things hanging in your path. We use light effectively in our attraction, so if we WANT you to see something, you're gonna see it.

Jim Warfield
04-04-2010, 01:10 PM
Detail a dark spot, right where customers always pull out their own light source, cell phone, flashlight, the hated and dangerous forbidden "Bic" lighter!
Then that darkness becomes so scary and they did it to themselves! I know..in a perfect haunted world.
My warnings used to include "No Bics".
"Very hazardous when you go passed the napalm exhibit!"
("Napalm exhibit?") This gottem wondering????

Nightmare_Trance
04-05-2010, 11:59 AM
I know it one of Tattoo and Bad Boys seminar they said they highly recommend detailing with the show lights on due to the fact that it will look so different once the lights go down and the show lights are on.

thrilltainment
04-21-2010, 07:47 PM
I know it one of Tattoo and Bad Boys seminar they said they highly recommend detailing with the show lights on due to the fact that it will look so different once the lights go down and the show lights are on.

Yes, even if you guys may disagree with the order in which I create my haunt (lights before set), I think we can all agree that working under set lighting is vital to your final effect.

Of course, sometimes it's pain because you may trip over your tools or paint bucket. we've all been there =)

FutureHauntings83
04-21-2010, 10:01 PM
adding more lights to show off your specific detail does not mean the set has to be too bright! dim those sob's...if i'm correct, i believe the darkness is using a lot of led mini spots to light the sets (as i'm told by others, i have not seen for myself)...dim your fixtures, it sounds like work...but if each fixture in a scene is individualy dimmable you can contol whats highlighted more than everything else in the room.

something tells me lately, that the next hauntworld dvd could have huge how to's on lighting your haunt "the right way" haha.

thrilltainment
04-21-2010, 10:44 PM
adding more lights to show off your specific detail does not mean the set has to be too bright! dim those sob's...if i'm correct, i believe the darkness is using a lot of led mini spots to light the sets (as i'm told by others, i have not seen for myself)...dim your fixtures, it sounds like work...but if each fixture in a scene is individualy dimmable you can contol whats highlighted more than everything else in the room.

something tells me lately, that the next hauntworld dvd could have huge how to's on lighting your haunt "the right way" haha.

dimming is definitely one solution, but it adds time and money to the equation.

on a future model of our lights, we may consider building in a dimmer... we'll have to see if the costs added are what customers are willing to pay for the extra feature.