From the MoM Group

Storm Sewer Sounds. Brilliant — from the MoM Group —

I always wanted to put sound coming out of my storm drain, so this year I did! I used a 1X2 piece of wood and duct taped my two self powered speakers on it, then I taped the CD player in between the speakers. I put two eye hooks on the ends of the wood and used wire to hang pictures on each eye hook. then I twisted it in the middle to make a loop so I could hook it to a chain to lower it down the drain. I tested it last night and it was awesome! It freaked people out as they walked by! I was talking to a neighbor who was walking her dog and she said she was wondering were the sound was coming from. she said she heard it from the next street! I took a walk down the block and sure enough the sound was coming from all the gutters! HA I found a way to haunt the whole neighborhood! The sound was traveling thru the pipes! If you have storm drains in your neighborhood this is a must try!
oooo also forgot I used the whisper MP3 that was posted on the list! man did it sound cool! Imagine walking by the storm drain and hearing that!

Halloween Lighting

Halloween Lighting. Started to deploy lighting tonight. Step one — replace all the bulbs in exterior carriage lights with flicker bulbs. These bulbs can be hard to find at retail, I get mine at Kelsun Distributors in Bellevue. Next is to place all the lightning lights. I have a variety of lights that trigger off my thunder soundtrack — a mix of small strobes, big strobes, 120v incandescent floods, and this year i added in some 12V floods as people on the MoM group say they respond more quickly (basically, lower voltage lights have faster response times). All together I have about 20-30 lights that go off with the thunder spread around the yard. All I did tonight was place the lights. This weekend I have to distribute my DMX control cable and actually start triggering them.

Theatrical Sound Control

Theatrical Sound Control. As I’ve been putting out my sound systems for Halloween (5 sets of Bose outdoor speakers, 3 run by separate CD players, 2 run off a single amp with a thunder&lightning sound track synced with lighting effects), I’ve started to realize what I really want for my sounds at Halloween.

I want to home-run all my sound systems to a single PC with multiple sound cards. On this PC I want to run software that programmatically delivers the sounds to any combo of the speakers. And I want to be able to gang all the speakers, or any subset of them, into a surround sound array for any of the sounds I choose to deliver. Obviously the sound to any speaker set should be able to be a mix of any number of sounds from the PC. And on the PC i ought to be able to programmatically control the start/stop of sounds, as well as their locale in space.

With this system, I should be able to achieve the following kinds of effects — ambient wind noise playing thru every speaker, with a natural ebbing and flowing that is spatially coherent across all the speakers; thunder and lightning centered near the front door but mixed in at all the other speakers, attenuated by distance; ghost moans floating across the yard (hopping from speaker set to speaker set); graveyard sounds in the one corner. And this should all be programmatically controllable at the PC.

I’ve started to look for software that would let me do this. Some quick web searching turned up theatrical sound control software at Harmony Central?: Software: Abstracts, Crescit Software Inc. – SFX, WebRing: hub, and Stage Research, Inc.. Many of these seem similar to the lighting control software I use — similar paradigms, similar kinds of overlapping cueing. I don’t see much discussion of surround sound effects tho and that is important. I see products like those from Minnetonka that let you author surround sound, but I want to be able in my sound control program to take any input sound (stereo, mono, or surround) and programmatically move it thru the space of my halloween display, and have the software compute automatically on the fly the correct speaker inputs across all my speakers.

Rats

Rats. One of my Halloween displays will be a cage of rats. The cage door will rattle every once in a while and a little burst of fog will come out of the central den. There will be a sign above the den — “Ben” — referring back to the movie Willard I saw as a kid. Amazingly I find they are doing a remake of Willard. I still remember the night I saw it first — at a drive-in — a triple feature — I forget the first show — then came Willard — followed by some creepy Dr Phibes movie. My sister and I were wrapped up in blankets in the back of the station wagon watching. I am pretty sure I fell asleep part way thru Willard. But it obviously left an impression on me, I remember the night well. Drive-ins are a lost treasure.

Anyway back to the display. I’ll have a creepy squealing sound coming from the cage too. I tried various rodent squeals but they are too high pitched to be creepy and loud — all the energy gets dissipated as high frequency, not enough volume or rumble. A pig squeal comes out great tho.

Halloween

Halloween. Time for the Halloween blog color makeover. This weekend is the beginning of the big house transformation. All the external carriage lights get flicker bulbs this weekend, and the floods and uplights go to blue filters. Probably start to deploy fog and sound cabling this weekend too.

Busy Weekend.

Busy Halloween Prep Weekend. Busy busy making tombstones and other props — I love foamboard and stonelook paint from Home Depot (I can’t provide links as they don’t seem to sell them online). While a lot of people recommended electric carving knives as the way to do the largescale cutting of foamboard, I found mine to be ineffective on the 2″ thick foamboard I bought. Also been horsing around with small motors to use in props — as recommended on some of the project lists pointed to on my halloween blog, small appliance motors work great in a lot of projects — for example orange juicer motors, easily available at Value Village. You just take out the pressure switch and you have a nice cheap durable motor.

Floating Lantern

Floating Lantern. Got mine built and trialed yesterday — Floating Lantern. Very nice looking. I downsized a little and used a different lantern and lamp element but otherwise pretty much per these plans. I think i’d like a little higher rpm motor given the smaller diameter of the effect but it still looks good.