Wednesday, October 29, 2008 Body Slinger Update

OK, so the Body Slinger never made it to full automation and I didn't even get photos of the completed "jack in the box" effect.

Here is the head of Jack the Evil Clown.

The mask was $7 from Big Lots. Add plastic eyeballs, some Sharpie touch-up, and a good coat of high gloss sealant to the mouth and you have a fairly creepy clown.

General: The prop setup was the body slinger in a 4' X 4' plywood box upholstered with some old drapes. Jack was finished off with store-bought rubber hands and dressed in a shiny white fabric with irregular red polka dots.

In the box with Jack was a fog machine (looked cool and hid Jack since the box had no lid) and two pairs of speakers.

Audio: One pair of speakers provided a continuous soundtrack and one pair delivered Jack's scream/laugh. The continuous track was a free download from Sinistersonics mixed down to a mono track. Jack's scream/laugh was a free sound effect slightly manipulated with Audacity.

Both pairs of speakers were driven from a two channel 40 watt car amp powered from a PC power supply. The two speakers for the soundtrack were wired in series (lower output) and his scream/laugh pair in parallel (higher output). His scream/laugh had to be manually triggered since automation of the prop was discarded.

The soundtrack source was a portable CD player connected to one channel of the amp. Jack's scream/laugh was recorded on a RadioShack 20-second voice recorder connected to the other channel of the amp. I ditched the 9 volt battery power source for the voice recorder and powered it from the 5 volt output of the power supply used for the amp.

Lighting: We lit the prop with a ground level green flood and added a blue flood mounted higher from the opposite side to light Jack when extended. The blue flood was connected through a 'Thunder' machine from Target (last year's after Halloween sale) triggered by his scream/laugh track.

Control: It was a two-person operation, with one watching the guests to time the scare, trigger Jack's scream/laugh and keep the fog at a good level. The second person released the rope to let Jack fly and retracted him for the next group. It probably didn't need to be two people but it was more fun that way.

Review: I was bummed out with three straight days of rain and disappointed that I didn't complete the motorized return for the prop. That eliminated any chance to use a motion sensor for activation. It did remind me, though, that there is nothing more effective than having a person watch and pick exactly the right moment for trigger. It had been a number of years since I had been tethered to a prop, and it was actually kind of a kick.

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