U p until this point, I had a great Halloween display. But it wasn't yet a show. It was a lot of prerecorded stuff, and it was great, but it wasn't a "show".
Sometime, probably shortly after Halloween (which is when I think a lot about what I can do to improve the display), I decided the display needed to be that "show". So, I set out to turn a bunch of stuff into a real production.
Several things came together really quickly. It seems like all at once, but it was a several month process. This was the year I added Thriller to the show. The video from Atmos FX fit a section of the song and was a really, really cool effect as Michael Jackson sings about things "lurking in the dark". Seeing the Frankenstein in the house while Vincent Price speaks of creatures terrorizing the neighborhood is just perfect.
This was also the first year that I had a custom voiceover. Our friend Chris used to work in radio and literally can do hundreds of voices. We wrote a script that tied together the AtmosFX video segments, and he recorded the voiceover. At the end of the session, he ad-libbed a few things, I pulled up some really, really, bad, bad Halloween jokes on the Internet, and he told all the jokes in a dozen or so different voices. At that point, of course, I had to figure out how to write that into the show.
But the funniest piece of the whole thing is the ad-lib section he did while impersonating Matthew McConaughey. If you listen really closely during the show, you can hear me laughing in the background.
I had also been tinkering with Christmas lights. Thanks to Google, I found details about how to hack GE Color Effects Christmas lights. The lights were really cool but the built-in light programs were terrible. I was able to pick up quite a few strands of them on eBay after Christmas from people who were not satisfied with them. So I had some hackable LED lights to play with.
After some trial and error, mostly error, I found someone who made custom circuit boards and firmware to turn these lights into DMX capable strands.
Anyway, back to Halloween. I removed the small incandescent bulbs from those Walmart foam pumpkins and placed one GE Christmas bulb in each one. This gave me individually controllable pumpkins, each with an RGB LED light in them. So, I could have different pumpkins of different colors and brightness throughout the yard.
Combining those with Chris's voiceover jokes, I could now have the pumpkins “tell“ the jokes. With the speakers sitting behind the pumpkins and control of where the voice comes from, and a single pumpkin lighting up, it really really looks like the pumpkins were now telling jokes.
Every year I like to change the show a little bit and add a few new things. I've removed “Boo to You“ completely. I still use the Disney Halloween fireworks audio, audio clips from the original Haunted Mansion recordings, and video of Madame Leota‘s head from the original Haunted Mansion sessions. I also use recordings of Vincent Price's Thriller voiceover sessions. The Disney fireworks use their version of "This is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I recently added the movie version, it's much more suitable for a Halloween display, and the joking pumpkins now have something to sing as well.