For Halloween 2015, we went with a Harry Potter theme. One of the big items in the Harry Potter movies was the moving portraits. I used Unliving Portraits from AtmosFearFX and some craftsmanship to create a haunted wall with moving portraits for our yard.
Step 1: Build the Walls
The walls were built out of 4'x8' 1/8" floor underlayment. It was backed with 1x4's which were nailed and glued to the underlayment.
The walls were coated with "Monster Mud" which is a mixture of 4 gallons of drywall mud & 1 gallon of black exterior paint.
I projected a test video from the bedroom to ensure size and focus would work before final placement of the wall panels.
The walls were screwed together and then anchored into the flowerbed with 2x4's and stakes.
Step 2: Wallpaper and Distress
Once the walls were erected, I bought two different types of textured wallpaper from Home Depot. I wanted the wall to have an old, dingy look. I am not good at hanging wallpaper straight outside in the dark, so thankfully it was in the plan to put chair rail up the middle of the wall.
The wallpaper was painted with exterior paint, but the wallpaper glue still did not hold up well to Georgia humidity. I covered it one day when it rained, and it lasted until the day after Halloween when a torrential downpour hit.
Step 3: Making the Candles & Candelabras
I bought a 100' extension cord to cut and use for this project. I had 11 candelabra bases and flicker bulbs to create.
I used 3/4" PVC which is a little smaller than the candelabra base. Once the bases were wired, I heated the PVC with a heat gun and quickly pressed the wired fixtures into the soft PVC. Don't use your hand to press them, I used a table. The plastic is extremely hot and will burn your hand. I repeated this process until all candelabra bases were encased in PVC.
Next, I used a hot glue gun to drip down the sides of PVC to create the appearance of melted wax. Once this dried, I painted each candle white to mask the transparent glue. (Later I went back and repainted the candles a dingy gray to give them a dirtier look).
I tested the wiring of each candelabra before proceeding. If you do this project, please be careful as electricity can be very dangerous.
Candelabras - ASSEMBLE!!!
The candelabras were simply 3/4" PVC fittings. I cut a small piece of PVC to connect each bend. The central candelabra had 3 candles and used (3) 90 degree elbows and (1) cross fitting. The other candelabras had 2 candles and used (3) 90 degree fittings and (1) T fitting each. The wiring from each candle was run through the pipe and connected to power on the back side of the wall.
Step 4: Cutting for the Portraits and Candelabras
Originally, I planned on having one large moving portrait, but later decided to have two. Once the wall was erected, I turned on the projector to sketch out the holes for the video.
Using a jigsaw, I cut rough openings for the portraits. I then used door casing to frame out the portrait holes. This gave it a nice finished edge and resembled a photo frame. For the projection material, I simply cut a bed sheet and stapled it to the back of the plywood. Make sure it is tight to prevent sagging or wrinkles.
Once I had the portraits framed, I measured out where I wanted the candelabras and drilled 1" holes.I backed the holes with a small piece of 2x4 with a 1" hole as well to support the candelabra pipe as it went through the thin wall.
I connected each candelabra with sections of the cut extension cord, using wire nuts and electrical tape to seal each connection.
Step 5: Projection Test
Now it's time to test all of that hard work!
These are images from my test. Ignore the dark lines, the window was closed during testing, and those are the slats between the window panes. I left the video paused on the nights before Halloween, changing them slightly from night to night. I didn't want anyone to know they were animated until Halloween night.
Step 6: SUCCESS!
The wall was a huge success as part of our Harry Potter theme. It turned our 2 lane road into 4 lanes of traffic. Everyone stopped to watch the portraits change and loved them! The walls will definitely make a return visit for Halloweens to come.
Runner Up in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2015