Intro: Madame Leota's Séance
Madame Leota's Séance
Inspired by Madame Leota in Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction, I thought I would try to create a séance scene. My version included Madame Leota in her crystal ball floating in the air above the séance table. I had fun putting this display together and you probably will too.
The Madame Leota visual effect is simple; take a acrylic globe add a video display under it and then place a sheet of clear plastic in the globe at a 45 degree angle to reflect the image forward. That’s it! I hid my video source in a cardboard box suspended by black fine steel wires.
Madame Leota is the medium in Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction that appears in the séance room’s crystal ball casting spells. I used video of her face for the image in the crystal ball. Many versions of Madame Leota can be found on YouTube. However the one I am using, and like the best, is found on our own Instructable’s website from a previous Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/file/FPIQ07SFN82O50H... You can also record your own video and personalize the content.
The video is run in a looping program so that it continuously repeats so there is no need to access the video device to start or stop the content. I used ‘Vloop’ App, but there are several out there. I used an iPad2 as my video device, but any video display that fills the opening in the bottom of the globe will do. The display does have its limitations. Because the image is being reflected from below it is best viewed directly from the front, as deviation from head-on will tend to cut off the image. Keeping the image intact can be accomplished by locating the crystal ball in such a way that your guests are most likely to stay directly in front of the globe.
Step 1: Materials
Acrylic Globe for Light Fixture (10” diameter with 5-1/4 opening), Amazon $25
Rigid yet flexible clear plastic sheet; iPad Screen Protector (Dollar Tree)
iPad or other Display Device and Video Looping App
Cardboard box that Display Device will fit inside
Foam blocks (packing materials)
Black Spray Paint
24 gauge black galvanized steel wire
Select Tarot Cards printed off of the internet - optional
Step 2: Conceal Your Display Device
I hid my video in a cardboard box. Select a box that your video device will fit inside and spray paint it flat black (Without the video device in it!).
Load your video looping App and the video content you want - Madame Leota! (or something/one else).
Cut an opening about the size of Madame Leota's face. Take blocks of foam and use them to hold the video device in place up against the opening. That's it.
Step 3: Set Up the Crystal Ball
Take the semi-rigid screen protector plastic sheet and cut it so that it is about the same length as the globe is in diameter. The idea is to have the sheet sit nicely inside the globe in a 45 degree angle. I got better results when I folded a small crease (~3/16" wide) along each side to make the sheet more rigid. With the sheet in the light fixture acrylic globe it is ready to be placed on the cardboard box.
Step 4: Set Up Your Séance Room
My séance room was set up as a decoration at work, so I hung black cloth around the area to give me a confined space. I hung the cardboard box with the hidden display device in it from the grid ceiling track using the black thin steel wires, which almost became invisible. Set the acrylic globe on top of the opening in the box so that Leota's face is reflected in the thin sheet inside.
I borrowed a nice sized table from home and dressed it up with lace tablecloth and spiderweb doily. I added a small electric flicker candle. To finish it off I found a set of Tarot Card images that I liked on the internet and printed up select cards to place on my séance table.
That's it. Pretty simple and a great effect. I kept having people looking for the video projector that was not there!