Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween Train

I am not really one for the inflatable Halloween decorations. They always look like someone threw up all over your lawn when they are deflated during the day. Some of them are cute but usually, eh, I don't care for them. Most are very expensive and if you get the tiniest of holes in them, you are done.

But...saying all that, I could not resist the Halloween Train when I saw it a year ago! It's huge! 17 feet long and it moves and has lights too. It was just too neat and I got it for the back of my yard as that is where I put the kiddie kinda of decorations as I have been moving more and more to the creepy and eerie and scary out front.

I did get it somewhat on sale and of course you can probably get it much cheaper now. I got it from Seventh Avenue who I believe are owned by Swiss Colony, the people who bring you all the luscious goodies and snacks around Christmas time!

When we first got the train, there was a hole in it and the one fan that inflates it with air, was not attached correctly. It was twisted so much that part of the train was tipping forward. So we returned it and got another one. This one was perfect!  This is my favorite part of it where the ghost rises up out of the tombstone and then goes back down!

The skeleton engineer waves his hand and then Dracula rises up out of the coffin in the caboose. It's all very cute!

It all fits into one storage bin neatly and came with ties to help hold it down. :)
So far it's lasted two seasons!

How-to for Hallowindow

When I first saw Hallowindow on the net, I was just amazed at how awesome these Halloween animations are! I really wanted to set it up in my window for Halloween and I could not wait to do so! These are really great and a new one comes out almost every year!

This is how I set it up for my house:

For the screen, I took a king sized flat white sheet and ironed it, (and thinking of starching it but so far haven't had to) and I then tapped in some grommets up at the doubled over top area and I put a few in on the sides.

Then I got some teacup hooks and tapped them into the wall up at the top of a window where I wanted the sheet to hang. The teacup hooks on the side help to hold it taut and if needed I just used some tape. I was careful however not to draw this too tight as you will get ripples.

For the projector. I made sure I had at least 2500 lumens and I was able to get a refurbished Epson projector from Fry's Electronics.

For outside sound, I use an outdoor wireless speaker.

Now from here, you can either hook up your dvd player or if you are like me and want all of the animations to loop and play together and like to have an order to it or add in the small clips as well, you could either burn a disc or what is even better is to put it all together on iTunes for your iPod!

How to do this? Well I downloaded the files from Hallowindow once I purchased them and then moved them to my iPod. You have to take those files and send them thru a program called: Aimersoft Video Convertor (I use Ultimate version) and you can then go get those videos from the folder where you put them at on your computer, and load them into this software. Then there is a selection on the right that you choose which sort of device you want to convert them to. 

There is also a place to edit the video. So for this set up, I knew there was writing on the video and I am doing a reverse projection, so all the lettering has to be in reverse in the video so that when you project onto the screen, it will look readable to the person on the other side. It's wild I know, but it works.

So once you choose the device and do any adjusting and editing of the vid that you want to do, then you choose where you want these new files to be saved to, this is located at the bottom in really tiny font and address bar. After you pick or make a folder for them, you click on Convert and wha~la! Video file has been altered and ready to go for your iPod.

So go to iTunes and go get the converted file from where you saved them at on your hard drive and load them into your iTunes. Make a playlist and then Sync your iPod to it.

So to hook-up everything, I had to use a Belkin cord/adapter and one of those usb to electrical outlet adapters. This is an iPod AV cable that I am using. A word of warning, be sure and pick up the right cable for your device. I recently picked up two more of these cables and got the wrong ones as they won't support my iPod Classic, only the iPod Touch and iPad. So be sure you have the right one before you buy it. (As of 09/28/14--they run about $45) Also another word of warning, if you are using the iPod Classic, I believe Apple is going to be doing away with this device as they are pushing the iPod Touch more so as Staples told me that Apple is not going to replenish the Classic with them at all and these are still hard to get and are out of stock in a lot of places. Best Buy just told me that Apple is discontinuing them too.  So, with that, I believe these specific cables will also eventually be hard to come by. So get them now while you can.

 So the set up is from the iPod to the projector with the yellow visual cable and then to the outdoor speaker with the red and plain audio cables and of course the other cable coming from the iPod is for a USB charger to keep the iPod charged while it is running so I used an adapter plug, this one from Kodak but any one will do that works with an iPod to plug into the electrical outlet.

The speaker then will go outside and we plug it in although you can use batteries. It's an amazing speaker!

I placed the projector on a small laptop table on wheels so I can move it around if need be and make your adjustments. We have it sit across the room to be sure the image is large enough for the double windows.

I keep the room's door shut so the cats don't mess with the screen. They love to get in there and fool around and or get in front of the projector  and cast their shadow onto the screen! They like to watch the animations almost as much as we do!

(Update: I took a twin sized flat sheet and stapled it to a wooden frame out of 2x3s cut to fit the new window I am using. We'll see how it works this year!--09/28/14)

Last year, this worked like a charm! I have about 30-50 people outside on my front drive watching the animations every Halloween and many of the neighbors like to take walks in the evening and some will come to watch the window animations! :) The past years, we had about 100 people in the street and driveway at one time! One of my favorite parts of Hallowindow is having zombies strutting by!

Hallowindow also sells small clips for Christmas so I have a special window display for then as well! :)

Be sure and check them out here:

My only issues are that I have two windows side by side with a bricked area between them and not a single large window. So when I move, I am going to be sure I have a nice front window just for this!

Thank you again to Hallowindow for a creative and most imaginative set of animations! I love them!