Spooky Face in Mirror Special Effect

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Introduction: Spooky Face in Mirror Special Effect

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I have one of these complete (single location) effects for sale: $749.
Components
of this are available as well: frames with computer-cut 2-way plexiglass mirror available to assist your DIY efforts. Custom cut 1/4" 2-way plexiglass, or mounted in the full-size üng drill frame are also available. Inquire about the custom video tracks as well. Please contact me through instructables or drop me a line at david@davidandora.com for more information.


I created a "spooky face in-the-mirror" special effect in 2009. The effect is of three green glowing framed mirrors that have a spooky face which appears to move from frame to frame on a continuous loop throughout the event. The effect was created with 3: 23 1/4 x 33 1/2 " UNG DRILL frames from IKEA, which I painted fluorescent green. The UNG DRILL frames are now available as both frames and mirrors (though not the 2-way variety). Use the provided mirror or clear plastic as a measuring guide to have 2-way mirror custom routed/cut, which I did, or you may try to use a 2-way mirror film to apply to the included plastic. I purchased 3 of the widescreen 19" LCD's. The initial installation enabled me to place widescreen LCD panels behind faux walls, mounting the frames flush on the walls. I wanted to be able to use the frames elsewhere when I would have to have the LCD display taking up space behind the frame, so I designed an ornate black frame inspired by wrought iron filagree which was cut from black Sintra, a pvc sheet product which can be computer cut by a CNC router. I used a heat bender to raise the framework out from the wall just enough to accomodate the LCD panel. It works very well at hiding the display and visually anchors the mirror to the wall.

To make the video I recorded my friend Ryan's face with a black t-shirt pulled over his head to expose just the very front of his face. I wanted it to look like a floating face, not a whole head. I lit his face from below to enhance the ghoulish quality of the image. This was all done in front of a black backdrop. His face had white makeup on it, but I'm not certain that was entirely necessary. Because the LCD displays are mounted on their side, the camera was also on it's side to record the footage.

The video was then edited in Final Cut Pro to enhance the contrast of the face and the black background. Then, an important step was to alter the color to look as though the face was lit with ultraviolet (black) light and was U.V. reactive. U.V. reactive white looks blueish under UV light, so I gave the image a tint that matched that same hue of blue. Because the LCD display gives off an illuminated image, and the altered face footage appears to be reacting to black light, the whole display appears to be glowing exclusively from ultraviolet light. This makes the effect more mysterious and avoids simply looking like a "tv behind a mirror". Both the fluorescent frame and the face glow at the same level of brightness. In person, the effect is brighter than it appears in the attached video, but rather the way it does in the photos.

To create the effect that the face moves from frame to frame and never is in two places at the same time, I created three separate video tracks, one for each frame. Then created DVD's in DVD Studio Pro that automatically start playing when the dvd player powers on. Then I used three dvd players of the same manufacturer and model, one running to each mirror/video display. By using a remote control I am able to turn on all three dvd players at the same time so they are synced. The dvd's are programmed to automatically loop. They seem to stay in sync at least for 8+ hours.
UPDATE: For a simpler option with no moving parts, I recommend the Micca Speck Ultra Portable Digital Media Player.
http://amzn.com/B008NO9RRM

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    26 Comments

    I almost overlooked this thinking it was gonna be super complicated. I like easy, with awesome results! Very good job.

    EXACTLY!!! I think it looks that way to a lot of people, but it's not. Just a little time and attention to some details and you end up with a great effect that is definitely greater than the sum of it's parts. Happy Halloween!

    Please add what you need/ materials because I don't know what all you need. Thank you

    You can also find these small displays at thrift stores or garage sales for $25 US or less.

    I wonder if I could attach a plain rectangular frame to the front of a small LCD tv we have sitting around (free with large tv purchase last black Friday) that is slightly smaller. That way I didn't have to dedicate the tv to this project. I'm thinking of doing this for a one time situation for a haunted house we are doing. Hmmm. Great instructable!

    Of course you could! Just a couple notes:

    -The video displays I use for this effect are only held in place with vecro straps and I use them for other projects as well.

    -Also, I believe that a round frame makes this effect stronger as the mind doesn't immediately view this as a video effect. You could still use a round frame with your TV. The tv is smaller than the frame in my example. The face image never extends off the edge of the video frame, so you don't see an "edge" through the two-way mirror.

    Hope that helps. Have a fun Haunted House!

    oh sorry fiqured it out

    um i was confused where did you get the frame

    If you use a controller or a microcontroller like a picaxe (Very easy to use) you can control the power to the DVD players however you want. even have different characters in the different mirrors and have them interact with each other. There are some interesting possibilities with these.

    That sounds really intriguing! I'm going to have to research that more. It sounds like it could really open up some fun results. Thanks for the suggestion!