Monday, April 28, 2008

HAuNTcon (the trip home)

Got a 4:45am wake up call (that was 2:45 Portland time) to get a taxi to the Houston Airport at 5am to catch our 7am flight. We flew to Chicago and then changed planes and flew to Portland. After over 6 hours of flying even with the sleeping we did we were ready to get of the plane. We got our bags and picked up our car in long term parking, then grabbed some lunch and headed home to some lonely cats and a stack of mail and a bunch of emails.

We are both exhausted but had a great trip. I'm sure my blog entries each day didn't do the trip justice and I likely forgot a bunch of things. Hope it helps explain what we were up to this week.

Thanks to Leonard Pickel (and family) for putting on a great show!! We are looking forward to 2009! We will get to finally see The Terror on the Fox - the haunt of the famous (and ultimately cool) Bad Boys Scenic Design crew.

HAuNTcon Day 6

Got woke up by housekeeping so I made my way down to the first class which started at 10am and grabbed some more complementary breakfast (very helpful that they have that arranged!) I left Chris (who did not get up early - as we suspected) to catch some much needed rest. The first class was Scene Painting by Nick Collins of NC. He was a very talented scene painter and great speaker. I learned a lot just watching him.

Chris joined me for the next seminar. We attended All about Servos from EFX-TEK John Barrowman. As usual there were some delays with technical issues getting started. (not sure why these couldn't be addressed during the 30 min breaks?). I left the seminar a little disappointed I was expecting something with a bit more meat (funny comment from a vegetarian.)

He covered a lot of ground quickly and concisely. I could tell he pushed the skill level about as far as he could with the audience he had. Chris won a RC-4 by answering the question about which John/Jon was a opera singer (these two are always full of surprises!) correctly (John). (Drinking with fellow haunters/vendors pays off!! :)

Our last seminar was Greg Chrise, an experienced concrete technique contractor. He talked about the alternative to monster mud called Monster Crete. It was and odd format for a demonstration/seminar but he was informative, he talked about a lot of his experiences and explained the materials and how they are used.

We went back to the show floor for the last time and purchased another Midnight Syndicate CD (as a haunter you can never have too many of their CDs.)

We also talked to the Wolfe Brothers a bit at the Graftobian airbrush makeup booth to get some hints on what to buy.

John of EFX-TEK tracked us down and gave us a gift as a thank you for all our support of their products. Thanks guys, we cannot say enough good things about your products and your support of home haunters. See you in Provo!

Throughout the weekend we were constantly surprised when a local home haunter comes up to us and says "Wow, your stuff is amazing/cool!" Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy :) We love answering their questions and send them to the a vendor we trust and know will treat the yard haunter right.

We had a light dinner and then went on a tour bus to National Museum of Funeral History. Turned out to be a FANTASTIC time. The museum had the largest collection of horse draw hearses I had ever seen. There were tons of unique caskets and other funeral history exhibits. We grabbed a bite to eat there and then headed back.

As usual we met another Oregonian. A couple who run a haunt in La Grand out of a 1920's hotel on its 3rd floor. They were a lot of fun to talk with and we look forward to getting together with them soon.

We went up to the Pickel Suite and said "hi" to some great new people. And then thanked Leonard and Jeanne for a wonderful time as always and headed to bead to get get up in 4hrs.

HAuNTcon Day 5

Got up early and grabbed the complementary breakfast. Sat down in the Bad Boys Scenic Design Foam Masonry IV seminar. As usual, it was packed. Went over the same stuff that seminar II & III did. (They were selling the same DVD as last year, but they say that a new one is on its way?) It is always a treat to listen to a crew that is so passionate about their work. Bert is one of the most creative guys we have met in the industry. They also were planning a full day seminar on Monday (cost $450 per person) so they said it would cover much more detail. Too bad we were leaving and didn't pay the extra bucks. I hear they are filming it and selling it for $75 - we will be looking for that!

The next seminar was the intermediate Prop-2 Programming seminar from EFX. As many of the other seminars before this one there were some technical difficulties getting started and then a mix up on what the class was about. It ended up being about basic programming than the advanced Prop-2 specific stuff. Which was good for the majority of the attendees but left Jeff a little disappointed. (Sometimes he is so high maintenance :)

Grabbed some lunch and ate with Dick Turhune a voice talent and PR service provider that we have met from CT and who might be able to help us with our talking skull.

I went to the silicone for makeup by Smooth-on (missed their molding and casting class since it was back to back with ours). Pretty cool stuff watching them making wounds and stuff with silicone right on the spot. Great speaker and great products.

We both sat in on the Airbrush makeup for haunts by Nick Wolfe. Which was fun and informative (including the impromptu philosophy lesson.) We watched him paint an already applied latex prostetic and then a full body paint job on a lovely (and brave) woman. All the men thanked him later for the frontal nudity experience. Nick is a great speaker and is fun to watch work and listen to.

I sat in on the Advanced Animatronics Keynote by Garner Holt who founded Garner Holt Productions It was a fascinating look into the most popular animatronic company in the world and its founder.

We stopped in on Mini Spotlight and placed our order for our lights this year. They have a few new products including a water-proof (important for the NW) strip of white LEDs. They are great people to work with and anyone looking to improve the lighting in their haunt or yard display should look into replacing their floods with low voltage LED lights.

We had dinner and went up to our room to get ready for the costume ball (Chris got to wear her white trainers with the black dress, because one of the boots zipper when flying across the room!)

The costumes were fantastic this year and we had a great time. We tracked down Leonard for a picture (above). His vampire costume was quite appropriate since he went to Transylvania last year.

Chris won a picture from Ghoulish Gallery - they make amazing changing photos! I won the Napoleon's Last Ride portriat. They have a couple graveyard photos that I need to get. We left at about 12:30 when they shut down the bar. We changed out of our costume and went to the hotel bar and had drinks until they kicked us out with some other haunters. We made our way up to the Pickel suite which was FULL of people. We said hi to a few friends and then went to bed around 3am.

The question is.....will Chris make it to the show floor tomorrow am? :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

HAuNTcon Day 4 (the seminar)

Had a little trouble sleeping having gone to bed so late and thinking about the seminar. We didn't plan on attending any of the morning seminars so we slept in and ordered room service breakfast.

I posted some blog entries. We headed down to the show at about 11am. We took a brief look at the creative class room we were speaking in and it was bigger than we thought. We sat in a class in it for a while but then left. The show floor opened up at noon so we took a look around to scope out our purchases.

I talked to Leonard Pickel about getting something we could use as a stand for holding up our background and he kindly lent us a sign stand he had that worked great (thanks Leonard!) We walked around the show for a while and then headed to our room to order some room service lunch (bar wasn't open and the restaurant was called the "Cattleman's Club" - yep, just full of vegetarian food - like the rest of Texas).

We reviewed our presentation which was good because the movie wasn't working (tension rising) and we had to download the backup copy I uploaded to our website (thankfully) but I couldn't remember what I called the file! Finally figured it out (in the nick of time) and got it downloaded and the PPT working perfectly. Now if Chris can just operate it correctly during the presentation :)

Packed up all our stuff and headed to our seminar at 2:30 (30 min to go). We unpacked and put the backdrop on the stand. Got our stuff setup while the other group was taking down.

We had some trouble with the laptop showing on the projector (funny a video effects talk with the projector not working, not!) We winged it for 15 min while they fixed the projector but the attendees had tons of questions (mostly about the yard) and we were happy to answer. Finally got the projector working and the talk went smoothly. We were able to get a volunteer (the lovely Marianne (sp?) - if you read this email us, we would like to send you your "ghost") to do the video and created a short video right in the class.

The time went fast and before we knew it we were done. Everyone enjoyed the class and we talked to people afterwards who said it was great, and asked a lot more questions. If you were in the class and did not get a handout, check out our website to download it, or email me and I will send you a color print out in the mail.

We went to the show floor and ordered some skeletons from The Skeleton Store (we are going to use them for the charity auction items this year, so if you want a realistic skeleton, buy a raffle ticket!) Stopped by our Froggy's Fog friends (I still owe them some wine) and bought some Swamp Juice. (We were using the regular Fog Juice, we will see if this one is better.) One of my favorite vendors, their name is Froggy, as the Frog Queen (I have hundreds of minions at my desk), what is not to like, and they love good Cabernet's! Now that is almost heaven :) Crap, I now have a John Denver song stuck in my too? Sorry about that.

Picked up prop controllers from EFX-TEK and met (the delightful) Amber (blessed be to you too honey!) They were as helpful as ever and we look forward to seeing them again at the RMG. We talked with Kim and Bert (and met their son Adam) at Mini Spotlight about their new products. I even had a long chat with the Smooth-On folks about their products and they gave me a sample of a brushable rubber I didn't have.

We went to the dinner at 6pm with 4 tables of haunters and had a nice dinner and chatted with some great people from Ohio and Chicago (and a home haunter.) This was a new experiment for Leonard, we have a good time and with a few suggestions would recommend it to anyone next year.

We boarded the bus at 7:15 and went to Phobia to tour their haunt. They had 4 of their 5 haunts open and we waited in line for each one and went through. The 3-D clown haunt was wild and the other 2 demented haunts were intense. They put on a good show. We got back on a bus and were back by 10pm so we went back to the bar and got some food and drinks and hung with a fellow haunter Don from Seattle who does fantastic makeup for EMT training. (realistic severe injuries). Got to bed at a decent time so we could go to classes all day on Saturday.

Friday, April 25, 2008

HAuNTcon Day 3

We boarded our bus after we checked out of the French Market Inn. We drove to the Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 the oldest above ground cemetery in New Orleans. We walked around for a bit and took some amazing pictures.

We then hopped on the bus and drove to the Haunted Mortuary and had lunch. This was one of the more impressive buildings for a haunted house. Very high tech with lots of potential. They showed a video effect on a CO2 fog wall that was amazing. Their control room for their cameras and audio was like something out of a movie studio. (No surprise to learn that their day jobs were AV professionals.)

We drove to the airport and flew to Houston. We checked into our hotel and then got ready to go to the Nightmare on the Bayou a 3-D haunt. (Not a haunt for those with Coulrophobia!) We ate dinner in their party room and toured the very large Party Boy store (they had a great costume rental company upstairs.) We headed back to the hotel and had some drinks with fellow haunters (including our friends from Texas) until late into the night. Heard a lot of good advice given about running haunts, that we will probably (don't want to jinx myself) never use - but we love hearing the stories!

Looking forward to our first official Hauntcon day and our seminar in the afternoon.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

HAuNTcon Day 2

Got up at 7am and checked out of the Hotel and left our bags at the desk along with everyone else. Had a great buffet breakfast and then headed over to the 13th gate for a lights on walk through. They didn't allow us to take photographs because of all the new things they added this year. The walk through was just as fun as the lights off tour. Kathy Sanburn was our guide who is one of the owners. The amount of hours they spent doing the detail of this place was unbelievable.

After the lights off tour we boarded our bus and drove to the haunted Myrtles Plantation. We had lunch at the Carriage house restaurant and then took the tour of the main house of the plantation. We had a charming (and very southern), humorous tour guide named Robbie. It is a tour we will never forget.

We then drove to New Orleans across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest in the world - it is quite extraordinary to be out in the middle of the lake - you are on the road and cannot see land in any direction.

We got checked into the French Market Inn on Decatur st in the french quarter. The hotel had a lot of characters which helped make up for the lack of hotel standards (like air conditioning, which in the south we have learned is crucial, even in April.) We had some time after check in until the bus left so we did a bit of shopping and bought some daiquiris (drinking on the street in a much cooler location than Vegas!) Chris picked up some voodoo stuff at the Voodoo Blues store. (Of course, and she has named them all already, so if you feel a sudden headache.....:)

Our first haunt was Chamber of Horrors just outside of New Orleans. It was a small building with a very dedicated group of actors.

We then boarded the bus and drove to the The House of Shock. The name totally fits the haunt, no false advertising here. They had a preshow that consisted of people with hooks in their backs being dragged around with chains - that is the PG stuff - the R stuff is....well, not going on this blog (ask us in person, it is worth the story.)

They have a pyrotechnic show before we went into the haunt (one of the owners is a pyrotech for concerts and there was a score of fire and police men at the event.) The haunt itself was satanic themed and not for the easily offended. They are careful to put VERY LARGE signs up that warn you that this is all in fun, if you think you might be offended - leave now! And they mean it. (If any of you are familiar with one of our favorite drinking bands the Poxy Boggards - it is similar to that - bring your sense of humor, but not your kids.)

It was a great show, creepy scenes with actors that touched you. (I believe Michelle had "blood" on her purse for the rest of the tour.) I was impressed by the consistant story line and their attention to detail. They had the creepiest actors. (including some children.)

We ate dinner there before the show started and hung around with the owners afterwards and talked to the people that worked there. They had a very large crew of dedicated a close knit people (you would have to be to pull this off!) We ran into a local fireman whose wife and son both volunteer - and he is going volunteer this year instead of working that shift. Quite impressive.

We boarded our bus and went back to Decatur street where we walked to Bourbon street and bought a drink and walked the street looking at all the clubs and listening to the music and watching all the drunk people (or was that just me looking in the mirror :)

It was quite a day. We can hardly wait to go back!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

HAuNTcon Day 1

We spent most of the day on a plane. We got up at 6:30am and left at 8am. Stopped in Dallas and hung around for a couple of hours.
We flew to Baton Rouge at 4pm and got in at 5:30pm. We check in to the Sheraton Hotel. We met Ed from New Hampsire a new haunt owner for this year. We met up with Sam & Michelle from Alaska (hanging in our usual place :)
At 8pm we went through the 13 Gate Haunt. It was a VERY detailed haunt and we had a blast going through it and seeing all the detail with the lights off and the actors.
Can hardly wait to see it in the light tomorrow!

Monday, April 21, 2008

HAuNTcon Day -1

We are packing and getting ready for our HAuNTcon pre-show trip. We are flying to Baton Rouge tomorrow to tour 13th Gate at 8pm. We leave at 6:30am and fly to Dallas and then to Baton Rouge. We are staying at a hotel casino. We can't wait. I am going to try to post an entry after each day. Hope it works?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Haunt X Awards

After the Haunt DVD's were released we inquired into whether the Haunt X Awards were going to be held this year since the Haunt X convention in LAX was not. The creator of these awards said he was too busy with personal stuff to get them done but would love us to handle them for him and keep them going this year. So we worked with a few people to get a website setup and let people who bought the DVD's vote on who should win.

The voting took place for the entire month of March. We contacted the Ghost Ride Productions maker of the trophies and ordered the 8 trophies for the Best and Finalists in the 4 catagories (Yard, Indoor, Party, and Novice). We are still waiting to get the plaques made for them.

We have tallied the votes (which were less than expected). We have the winners but are waiting to announce them pending a few details. If you are wondering we were not one of the winners and even if we were we would have declined since we are running the awards this year.