Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dueling Snowmen

Snowmen duelSantapaws has posted some video of his animated "dueling snowmen" display. Custom home-built animated light displays are so much cooler than store-bought ones.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Papercraft Crypt and Tangram Handouts from Carnival of Souls 2005

Those of us who put on the Carnival of Souls decided that for Halloween this year, we wouldn't only give out candy. Instead, we decided that some of the giveaways should be things that have a more lasting value. As a result, we designed two single-sheet activity pages which we had printed up on card stock and handed out on Halloween.
I've put the handouts up on the web for you to download and enjoy yourself. There is a papercraft crypt that you can cut out and assemble to create your own replica of our Crypt of the Phantasm attraction, and a Twisted Tangrams activity to cut out and solve.

If you construct the papercraft crypt, please send me a photo - I'd love to see how yours turns out!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

How fast they grow up

I was playing Apples to Apples tonight with some family members. The green card was "easy" and the only card I had in my hand that was even remotely applicable was "Choir Boys." Thus the dilemma: the person judging was my eleven-year-old nephew. Cringing, I played it anyway, thinking that, well, at least it would get a good "ewwww" out of the rest of the players.

He collected the cards, turned to me, and said, "You know, I was a choir boy last year." And then judged it as the best of the entries.

He got it. He got it. Excuse me, but I have to go burn my deck of Apples to Apples cards now.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Low-poly modeling

I'm having a hard time finding good resources online for low-polygon modeling techniques. Back when I first looked into this topic ages ago, I remember a few web sites that went into some tricks that I wish I could find now.

In particular, I'm looking for resources that have a good discussion of how to architect your models so that when bones deform them, you don't get nasty creases. I seem to recall that a major factor in having a good model that deforms gracefully is to have the geometry model the anatomical musculature of the entity being modeled. But I want examples.

I also need some good pointers on setting up a bones structure. How many bones do I need, and what are the guidelines for placing them in the figure? And why do some sites mention adding a tiny little bone at the end of every skeletal structure?

I'm plugging along on these issues, and I'm making progress, but I'm getting somewhat frustrated by the lack of good materials to help me online - there are plenty of modeling tutorials aimed at the modeling neophyte, but precious few on rigging. Maybe I'm just not finding them. If I ever master this stuff, or even get good enough at it to achieve decent results, I may have to write some tutorials of my own.

More Jedi Outcast footage

Today, my nephew showed off some more of the footage for the Star Wars fan film he's working on called The Jedi Outcast. Now that I've seen some of the raw footage he's working with, I'm even more impressed. There are scenes where he obviously has to rotoscope things in on a frame-by-frame basis, and where he has to splice together the, shall we say, rather uneven acting job done by his little brother and friends (they tend to crack up a lot while doing the shoots - heh). He's doing this movie on a shoestring. And not a "indie film shoestring" like $15,000. We're talking, like $200-$300 I think. He's having to be very creative with his shots and sequences to get this to work.

I'd love to get my nephew into a place where he has access to good tools, good resources, and good actors. I think he'd own the Creative Media Institute path at NMSU, but I don't get the impression he's interested in that, but maybe. Mostly, I wish After Effects wasn't so expensive, because with a license for that, he could do some even more amazing work.

His affinity for making movies seems to be rubbing off, too, as his sisters are already talking about making another movie with him, a dark superhero fable which sounds pretty fun. One sister is busy knocking out the first draft of the script, and the other is in the process of writing a novel.

I hope they keep up with this creative work - one thing that the Carnival of Souls experience has taught me is how fulfilling a creative outlet that entertains people can be. Even if you don't make a dime on it, it's a valuable thing to have in your life, and I'd love for them to have that. It's too easy to just shuffle through life as a consumer of corporate entertainment offerings - even if you can't match their production values, being a producer of content yourself is so much better, because you bring personal passion to it, and other people pick up on and respond to that. In the end, personal work can be better as a result. I have no doubt I will enjoy Jedi Outcast more than the last Star Wars movie, and it will be because my nephew is pouring himself into it. It shows in every frame of animation and every rotoscoped shot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Informational Graphic Design using Flash

I've always been a fan of clever informational graphic design,
and it has always seemed to me that the prevalence of Flash on the web would provide a means to bring animation and interactivity to bear on helping people understand complex political issues, but unfortunately, examples are few and far between.

However, I found a good one today - an animated, somewhat interactive work of political journalism that focuses on the issue of presidential approval ratings in a manner that makes the intricacies understandable even to political neophytes. Well worth a look.

More Haley Translation

More Haley translation. First, Issue 248:
It means my speech is all funny-sounding.
Come again?
Can somebody please get weepy transsexual off me?
...and then Issue 249:
Maybe you're right.
Apparently, Haley uses a different cipher each strip, which, as Belkar points out, is good for people who enjoy cryptograms...

Monkey Heads

The UV mapping system in Lightwave was something I was dreading getting into, but it turns out that it is really intuitive and easy to use. I was able to very quickly create a texture map for the monkey head:
Monkey Head Textured
The UV mapping functionality of LightWave is really powerful, enabling you to quickly unwrap your model onto a map and then export it for detailing in Photoshop. My texture map is really rudimentary - I just wanted to get the basic look down - but with all the texture channels you could apply, you could really make a model look great with comparatively little trouble.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Monkey boned

Wow, things are moving quickly. I'm learning a lot, and I'm surprised the results I am able to get already. I now have the monkey head pretty much modeled, and I've started experimenting with skelegons and bones. Below you can see the final model and two sample expressions for the monkey:
Monkey head poses
The next step is texturing so that the monkey doesn't look like it's made out of plastic.

More work on the monkey head

I think I'm really starting to get the hang of this:
Second version of model
I rather quickly added the ear, detailed it, tweaked the nose, added the eyes, and filled in the mouth.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Haley's Translation

Just in case you don't feel like translating Haley's unintelligible ranting in today's Order of the Stick episode, here it is:
Gone! All of it, gone! I can't believe it's all gone!
I got eaten by a dragon for that freakin' treasure!
i got vomited up! By a disgusting acid-breathing dragon!
And now it's gone!
Not the loot, my loot, mine!
Wait, why do i sound funny? Hello? Hello?
What? No! Don't you dare!
Sneak attack boot to the face!
Darn straight.

First decent attempt at modeling

Render 1Well, tonight I did some of my first character modeling after having watched the video I referred to earlier, and the results were pretty good, considering my near-zero amount of experience with this. I'm still nowhere near done with the model, but what I have so far is a lot better than what I thought I'd have at the end of the evening.

Best of all, I managed to start building my geometry-creation skills - now I understand better what the workflow for generating geometry looks like (although I'm pretty sure I'm still missing some things), and I was able to modify the geometry to get it to look pretty close to the way I wanted, which is something that has entirely eluded me in the past. In fact, it seemed pretty simple compared to what I had been attempting before, which I guess means it's finally "snapping" for me.

Hopefully, my skills will continue to improve so that I can start putting them to use building character models for use in Shockwave3D...

Speed Modeling Tutorial by Kaos_3d

Demon HeadI spent some time digging around on the 'net looking for information on 3D Character modeling and stumbled across this enthralling gem that shows Kaos_3d modeling a fairly detailed demon head from start to finish in less than an hour. I learned a lot by watching this QuickTime movie.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Ginormous Tree lives!

Ginormous treeAfter yesterday, it looked like the Ginormous Tree was going to be down for a while, but even I underestimated the bounce-backness of Daniel's drive to have the biggest damn Xmas tree on the block. Check it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ginormous difficulties for the Ginormous Tree

Attaching the Ginormous StarWe had some Ginormous Problems with adding a Ginormous Star to the top of the Ginormous Tree at Daniel's place this morning.

Apparently, the Ginormous Star was a little too Ginormous. After we attached it to the pole, we engaged in a series of wacky antics trying to get the pole back upright and secured. I'm sure we looked like the Three Stooges or the Keystone Cops to my wife, who was no doubt smirking to herself from her vantage point a safe distance away.

In the end, we got the Ginormous Tree up and relatively secured, but the pole was bent in multiple places, and we realized the thing would not stay up until January, and it had to come down. Despite our best efforts to put it down gently, it came crashing down about 180 degrees away from where we intended, and the Ginormous Star broke.

I'm sure Daniel is feeling a little discouraged at this point, but the thing is, this is just a temporary setback. It's not even Thanksgiving yet - he has plenty of time to get this thing figured out. He's an eminently capable guy, and he has the drive and vision to not just give up. He'll refactor it and it will be even better than it would have been.

And when you think about it, all this setback really means is that he's really thinking big. He's got ideas that tickle the edge of what the physical universe will support. That's the kind of creative drive and vision that I really appreciate about Daniel. He was the only one who was certain that we could do the Blackwood Mausoleum for Halloween this year, and it was his drive and skill, even moreso than mine, that made it a reality. You think a pole with some lights on it is going to stop Daniel? Think again!

See the saga of this morning's Ginormous Tree raising and falling starting with this photo in my flickr photostream.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Gi-normous tree

Daniel's 2004 DisplayI'm heading over to my buddy Daniel's place tomorrow to help him with his Christmas decorations. He's chronocling on his blog his efforts to build what he has dubbed the "GT", the "Gi-normous Tree", for his Christmas yard display. He's trying to top last year's effort (shown at right) by erecting an eighteen foot tall tree made out of Xmas lights in his front yard.

A worthy cause! As you probably know from my Halloween efforts, I am a strong believer that if you're going to try to entertain people, you might as well think big. Scale impresses people. Vision impresses people. Detail impresses people. If you bring these things to the table, even your critics will take notice and be entertained.

Daniel is a kindred spirit who thinks big, has a fertile imagination, has an insatiable creative drive, and wants to reach out to the community with projects he hopes they enjoy. I can't wait to stand at the base of the Gi-normous Tree tomorrow and see it. I know it's going to be really cool.

The 11th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition

The results from the 2005 Interactive Fiction Competition are in.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Islands Generator

Islands Screenshot
Since we're going to start working on a 3D-based educational game, I started brushing up my Shockwave 3D chops again, after having let them lapse for a while. After hearing a bit about a technique called "texture splatting," I decided to try it out on an Islands Generator I wrote this evening. It randomly generates an island's topography and then "splats" textures down onto the island based on the altitude of the island at that point. Although there's obviously a lot of room for improvement, considering that it's only a few hours of work, it seems to work pretty well.

Dark Works 2005

Darkworks shotThe hauntmeisters over at Terror Syndicate have put up their web page with a photo tour of their Dark Works haunt for 2005. As is usual for the guys who came up with Monster Mud, their haunt has a uniquely interesting look and a crazy level of attention to detail. These guys make a haunt that looks better than most pro haunts.

If you're interested in reproducing some of their effects, they have a long line of haunt products that they make themselves and sell. They sell foam skulls and other nasty props, and also have a line of books that have detailed instructions on prop building. While the production values on the books are pretty low (photocopied pages bound with plastic rings), and the price is a little steep, the books are high on content, and better than the published books you can find at Amazon. These guys know what they're doing, and have some of the best-looking corpses in the industry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fear on the Pier

Laff in the Dark just posted a new article on the haunt attractions at Casino Pier at Seaside Heights in New Jersey called Fear on the Pier.
Photo of dark ride vehicles
Despite all the cool photos of gags, stunts, and scares, my favorite part, strangely, was the photos of the spectacular ride vehicles (one of which is shown above - visit the site for more). I've always been a fan of dark rides, and seeing these spectacular cars just made my day - they're so strange and vibrant and garishly fun that you just want to climb into them and take a spin! You could ride around in a circle in an empty room and have fun with these babies.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Shadow of the Colossus

Now that Halloween is over, I've had a chance to pick up a few games I've been wanting to try out. The first on my list was Shadow of the Colossus, which I can honestly say is the most enjoyable game I've ever played.
The game that convinced me to buy a PlayStation One was Tomb Raider. Sure, that game was fun, but the best moment was when that T-Rex emerges out of the jungle gloom, looks right at you, and bellows. The first time you see that, your heart skips a beat and you don't think "How am I going to beat that?" but instead, "How am I going to survive that?" The sheer scale of the thing, combined with the raw coolness factor, is what hooked me, and I went and bought a PlayStation soon after that.

Shadow of the Colossus brings back that sort of feeling to an admittedly jaded game player like me, and it doesn't do it only once, like Tomb Raider did, but instead brings it every time you face a new Colossus, and there are sixteen in the game. I've taken down fourteen of the sixteen, and it's been a ride.

Many things work in concert to make this game so fantastic. First off, there's the naturalistic, pensive tone of the game that rivals a Hayao Miyazaki movie - in both theme and visual design, the game feels like a playable version of Princess Mononoke. The environment design is spectacular but not overdone, so that it seems very realistic. The Colossi are modeled after real animals, birds, etc., and are covered with fur and ancient stonework, giving them a distinctly ancient and even totemic feel that really connects them with the environment.

Another great aspect of the game is its stunning level of organic detail - lots of artistic effort and polygons were budgeted for grass, trees, weeds, branches, water, etc. And it's all animated - when a Colossus stamps its foot down, the ground buckles, throwing dirt and debris into the air through a cloud of dust. When you swim through the water, bubbles stream out behind you and beams of light filter down through the surface of the water. In particular, the animation and characterization on the horse you ride throughout your adventures was impressive.

The gameplay is refreshingly innovative. At heart, it's a puzzle game, but since the puzzles are alive and trying to kill you, it also becomes a challenging action game. And the puzzles themselves are very tightly designed, requiring you to utilize the characteristics of your avatar, your horse, the colossus, and the environment in tandem to bring down your foe. And each one is brought down in a different way, so the puzzle is fresh each time.

The action gameplay, too, is spectacular. The sense of urgency and danger generated by these colossi surprised me, and the manner in which you tangle with these beasts is different for each one. Whether you're pounding across the sands on your horse with a colossus breathing down your neck, or dodging a herculean swing from a weapon as long as a city block, or hanging on for dear life as the colossus you're clinging to tries to shake you off or the flying colossus you managed to leap onto does a corkscrew in the air, there's an original rush of excitement available for each challenge you face. Just riding on top of a colossus and seeing how very high up you are is a great moment unto itself.

But the real power of the game comes through the moral ambiguity of what you are doing. These colossi are, for the most part, docile, coming to life only when their domain is threatened - some of them have obviously been lying dormant for decades. They're portrayed as being closer to animals than monsters, comfortable in their habitats and not threatening anything outside of them. When you finally kill one, the music is sad, not victorious. As you watch the slow-motion cutscene of the giant coming crashing to earth and finally lying still, you can't help but feel a pang of guilt. And that's the amazing thing - it's just a game after all, but seldom do you find a game that can elicit an emotional response like this. Not many games out there transcend their gameplay like that.

This all isn't to say that the game doesn't have its flaws. There are a few places where the controls are frustrating, and the Playstation 2 technology isn't up to snuff for the vision of the creators (you often see the terrain "popping" as it switches level of detail as you approach the models), but the game is so immersive and powerful that these minor issues just fade into the background compared to the overall experience.

Shadow of the Colossus is, in my book, one of only two games I'd classify as must-haves. If you haven't seen it, go out and get a copy - you won't be disappointed.

Plans for 2006

Some of the principals of Carnival of Souls got together tonight to discuss plans for next year's event. Over some green chile enchiladas, we started concocting the nasty surprises we'll have in store for visitors next year. We've got some good starting notions, which I think we can develop into some great attraction magic next October.

Bob Diven said that he was struck by the fact that practically all our visitors walked around with a sense of wonder on their face at our event, something you very seldom get in a few people, let alone an entire crowd. That's awesome, because that's exactly what we are shooting for: something better than just the average Halloween decorations and pop-out-at-you scares. We're looking to create an experience that is magical and original, and I really think that with this team, we are going to be able to succeed at that year over year.

The down side, of course, is that we only have one night a year to do Carnival of Souls. It's a lot of work and money to sink into three hours out of the year.

However, a few other ideas came to light, and it looks like our group is interested in participating in two other local events: the Fourth of July light parade and the Renaissance Fair. The idea is to bring the same artistic and creative flair that we bring to Carnival of Souls to these events. This will give us something fun to work on during the "off season." We're going to get together in January to make new tombstones for the graveyard and discuss plans for Fourth of July. 2006 is going to be a fun year!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Adios, Sony

Well, it turns out that the Sony rootkit malware on purchased CD's also corrupts Macs.

You know, during the big Napster days, I was one of the "good" people from the music exec's standpoint. I didn't rip or download a single track I hadn't paid for, which wasn't offered free by its owners, or which I didn't create myself. And I did not offer any of my music for others to download using Napster or other P2P applications.

In short, I've been a good consumer and customer.

Apparently, that's irrelevant, though. It's not enough that the RIAA brands me as a criminal. It's not enough that they bought legislators to criminalize me even having the capability to engage in "fair use" use of music, let alone engage in criticism, commentary, or satire with the song.

Now they're actively trying to infect my machine with malware even though I have done nothing wrong, and they have no reason to believe that I may start.

Being cast in such gross strokes as a criminal really pisses me off, so I'm no longer going to purchase any music from Sony Music. Yes, there are lists out there showing which CD's are infected with the malware, but I'm not going to accept that burden being put on me. I'm going to assume that every Sony Music CD is likely to have malware, whether it's the already-detected rootkit or something that hasn't been detected yet.

Their behavior is outrageous, it's unethical, and it needs to be unpopular so that Sony Music takes a hit on sales from this move. I've always been skeptical of the argument that file sharing hurt their profits. I think they're counting each song downloaded as a loss of revenue, when the reality is that you'll download for free a lot of songs that you would never consider paying for, so that's hardly loss of revenue.

But now they have concrete evidence of something that does hurt their profits. Infecting my machine has caused them to lose me as a paying customer. Adios, Sony.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

See the entire Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour show!

Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour
I've just uploaded the web page for 2005's Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour black light puppet show.

The page contains a description of the show, the script, and some information on how we did it (more coming later), but most importantly, you can watch the show in its entirety. If you missed it this year, be sure to check it out - it was great fun!

Therapeutic value of MMORPG's?

I happened to meet up with one of my friends from College yesterday. He's a police officer now, which suits him well because I've always admired both his facility with people and his cool head in an emergency. He's smart, empathetic, and level-headed, all things that you want in a dedicated public defender.

Anyway, he was telling me that his brother, who is also a policeman, was an early responder to a pretty grisly scene in which some of his friends had been ambushed and killed.

My friend said that he couldn't get away to visit his brother, who was understandably troubled and shaken by the experience, but that he did manage to spend some time with him virtually using World of Warcraft as an intermediary. No phone bills, instant contact, and best of all, a removal of the context of the visitation - they could focus on something else when it became too much to talk about. Stepping out of the real world, assuming a totally different persona, and laying the smack down on a couple of ogres apparently provided a much-needed escape from the immediacy and mundane morbidity of what they were talking about.

My stomach sinks thinking about what his brother must have gone through, and I'm glad to see confirmed something that I've always suspected about RPG's, especially MMORPG's - having access to an alternate world can be therapeutic as well as entertaining, because the real world can have crushing levels of boredom, drudgery, loneliness, and pain, and having a temporary but engrossing escape from that can help people deal with those realities by giving them some relief from thinking about whatever is troubling them. Yes, some people can take it too far and assume the virtual world as their real world, but that is a miniscule minority compared to the people that gain real personal value from it. Brother connecting with brother to comfort and heal is a testament to that.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Blackwood Mausoleum page ready

Blackwood Mausoleum exteriorWe've been working on getting the photos and video from 2005 up on the web for people to view. I just completed a page for the Blackwood Mausoleum, the new attraction for 2005.

It's got some great video footage of Bob Diven doing the exterior spiel, and of Daniel and his posse finally experiencing the fruits of their labor inside. It's funny to note that even though Daniel's kids were there throughout the construction and raising of the mausoleum, they're still a little afraid of it when it's nighttime and all decked out with cobwebs and corpses. Heh.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ren Faire and Robert the Ratcatcher

Went to the Las Cruces Renaissance and Craft Fair today. Wow, has it grown over the years! To investigate all the craftsmen, information booths, and food vendors would certainly take all day. Combined with the various events, it's a long day that makes it easy to come back for both days that the fair spans.

I thought my son would enjoy the processionals and other costumed pageantry, but he was largely uninterested. And when I thought about it, of course it wasn't anything special - he's not old enough to know that those clothes are anything out of the ordinary. Mostly, he liked the water fountain in the lake and the playground - both things we could come to the park on any other weekend to do for much cheaper. Heh.

But it was fun for my wife and I. I always enjoy seeing the spectrum of costumes people wear to the Renaissance Fair. Obviously, you have the visitors wearing everyday clothes on one end, and on the other, you have the people wearing extravagantly detailed, period-accurate costumes that must have cost a good couple of hundred to make.

But the costumes that I enjoy the most are the ones in between the two extremes. I like seeing the knight walking along with a sword, a shield, and sneakers on his feet. Or the goth girls that wear black renaissance gear, but with glittery black bat wings or vynil high heeled boots. Or the wizard walking along wearing mirrored sunglasses and a baseball cap. That's just fun stuff.

However, by far the best thing at the fair is Bob Diven doing his "Robert the Ratcatcher" show. Most people who dress up at the Renaissance Fair dress up as nobles or knights, which of course was a tiny fraction of the populace during the Middle Ages. Bob dresses as the lowest of the low - the guy charged with catching the disease-infested, food-stealing rodents. But it's a great show, because he uses his "ratapult," a replica trebuchet that flings fake burlap rats into a crowd of excited kids, and flings pumpkins at a dumpster 50 yards away. Fun stuff.

I've always been impressed by Bob. I first met him when my wife was doing stand-up comedy. I saw many of his performances, which consisted of clever folk songs he'd play on his guitar, and unlike all the other comics, he absolutely never bombed - he was always engaging and always entertaining. (He has a CD out called Play with Yourself, Live in Concert, by the way - pick it up if you like folk music with a smart, funny edge.) We commissioned him to write some songs for some educational software we did back in the early 90's, and we're still getting letters from kids saying how much they like the songs he wrote. Since then, he's worked on the Renaissance Faire (I believe he built the dragon in the lake as well as the trebuchet), starred in local community theater productions, and produced a lot of impressive artwork.

That's why we asked him to be the barker for our new "Blackwood Mausoleum" Halloween attraction this year. He did a fantastic job adding the mystery and backstory to the attraction, entertaining people while they waited in line, and setting their minds at unease before they went inside to face the Blackwood kin. We gave him the overall idea, and he transformed that into an almost poetic spiel that really complemented the magical, spooky nature of our haunt.

I have video of his intro spiel - I'll be posting the video on a web page soon, so you'll be able to see it for yourself soon if you missed it this Halloween.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Carnival of Souls photo booth photos up

Posing GorillasWell, we finally managed to get our photo album containing Carnival of Souls photo booth photos up on Shutterfly. We chose shutterfly because they can store the photos at a high printable resolution, and they provide printing services. They're running a special now where the first 15 photo prints are free, so our visitors should be able to get their photos for free.


Skully and BoneheadPoor Skully and Bonehead. Two pirates who ended their days with their heads impaled on spears, these ghosts now spend their days animating the skulls they inhabited in life, passing the time telling terrible pirate jokes.

These animatronic pirate skulls were the first attraction people stumbled upon for our Carnival of Souls event. If you dare, you can read the pirate script, but ye be fairly warned: there be really bad jokes ahead. (Get it? A "head?" Yo ho ho!)

The Haunted Midway

Midway photoOkay, it's not much, but I managed to get the start of a page up on the web site that shows some of the footage and photos we have of Carnival of Souls 2005. This particular page covers the Haunted Midway.

I still need to add some shots of the Magic Mirror and the Crypt of the Phantasm, but I figure those are things already available elsewhere on the site, so they can wait a while.

I'll be adding more photos and other content to this page, and creating more pages, later.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

SpookyDad's Pirate Haunt

SpookyDad's haunt frontageI just got an email from SpookyDad, who says that he used our Jolly Roger digital puppet for his absolutely awesome-looking pirate-themed yard haunt. Going above and beyond the normal call, SpookyDad built a pirate ship, complete with a firing cannon, into his yard haunt, and projected the Jolly Roger digital puppet onto the pirate ship's sail! How awesome is that?

Be sure to check out all the pictures, especially the nighttime ones - his lighting style is very evocative and professional-looking. (This ought to be of particular interest to Daniel, who keeps talking about building a pirate ship for next year...)

Video captured!

Hoo! After some techie twiddling, I managed to get some of Daniel's Hi-8 footage transferred over to DV for creating some web movies. As I type this, I'm compressing some video of our Mausoleum barker's fantastic performance for web delivery. Tomorrow, I'll try to get it into some sort of presentable format on the ImaginEERIEing site, assuming I can get some time to work on it.

Included in the video I digitized is an entire performance of Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour, our black light puppet show attraction. Now in its second year, it was a big hit, and now you'll finally be able to see it.

I should mention that the only reason you'll see video from 2005 is because of Daniel - our DV camera pooped out after we all failed to charge the battery. Yet again, it's Daniel to the rescue!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Still working on getting photos and footage up

Still working on getting everything put away from Carnival of Souls 2005, and still working on getting photos and video up for people to see.

In the mean time, here's a neat little tidbit. A coworker of mine tells me that her daughter heard some other kids telling their friends about how much fun our yard haunt was this year. That makes me feel great - it's one thing to hear a compliment on the day of, when you're standing right there. It's another thing to hear that it had enough of an impact to cause people to talk excitedly about it when you're not around. We must be doing something right.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Carnival of Souls 2005 a success!

Just a quick note to let my readers know that Carnival of Souls 2005 was a big success. Despite the fact that our visitor count doubled again, to 700-800 visitors, a good time seems to have been had by all.

The "Blackwood Mausoleum" attraction was a huge success, working even better than I thought it would. The "Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour" improved upon last year's show to rave reviews. The Magic Mirror and the midway games provided their usual staple attraction for the kids, and we had many more people getting their photos taken at the photo booth.

The only thing that went wrong was the new animatronic pirate skull show which shut down halfway through the evening. But that was a minor thing - if anything would have had to go down, that was the one we wanted to go down!

I couldn't have done it without the tireless, selfless efforts of our 25 or so volunteers. Their creativity, skill, stamina, and willingness to help me achieve this event for the kids has been amazing and gratifying to watch over the last few months. If even one of them hadn't helped, at least one of our attractions would have had to close - every single one really contributed to the fundamental success of the event, and a great time was had by all our visitors as a result.

I'll be posting more photos and more detailed descriptions of the night in follow-up posts.