Lesson if you don't read the rest of the post: INSTALL YOUR LIGHTS FIRST, THEN DETAIL YOUR SET!
Last year while creating Shanghai Nightmare, 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.