Exceptional Lighting and detail is your friend.

A haunter can either succeed or fail, depending solely on that haunter’s attention to lighting and scene detail. Our haunts are generally geared towards a younger demographic than professional haunted attractions.  This, in itself, places a heavier burden upon us. It has been proven that the mind of a child is more active, in the imaginative sectors,  than an adult’s mind. I believe that this is because the child isn’t preoccupied with bills, work, and other responsibilities. Therefore, the child is more susceptible to believable scenery, thereby allowing the child to be scared more easily.

Detail and effective lighting make the scene more lifelike. Small details will snag a child’s attention and cause them to focus in an area away from a scare sector. This can translate to a professional haunt to a certain degree, as well. The more elaborate and detailed a scene, the more effective it will be to the majority of patrons. I’m not talking about minute details, but more noticeable small details. These things cause  the eye to focus in an area where you decide you would like it focused. It is a form of forced misdirection. Effectively layered lighting assists with this.

Effective lighting should consist of, at minimum, three different shades layered together. For moonlight, I generally enjoy a cool blue shade. As a counterpoint, a red or green layer that just barely illuminates the outer perimeter of the scene works quite well. This layer is meant to only light the lighter shades on scenery or props. I also enjoy using warm yellows or oranges as accent lighting to make the scene “pop”, looking like it is partially illuminated with fire light. This is just one scenario, and my lighting model is based from the Skull and Bones lighting tutorial. I attempted to link to the tutorial here, but was unable to do so, for some reason.

All of this is based on a completely light sterile scenario, meaning with your lighting turned off, your entire scene is completely dark, with no outside light contaminating the scene. As home haunter’s this is difficult, almost impossible, to achieve. Neighbors with outside floodlights, street lamps, and passing vehicles all contaminate your lighting scenario. It takes ingenuity to either incorporate or nullify this lighting contamination. This is an example of using high powered floodlights to nullify lights from passing vehicles. I used 2 blue compact fluorescent floodlights and 36 red 3 mm LEDs to achieve this effect. It worked quite effectively against passing vehicles and the flashes of parent’s cameras.


What I am trying to say is that with minimal research and moderate effort, you can design a very effective scene with amazing lighting. I spent less than 3 hours researching and roughly 4-6 hours constructing the lighting for this particular scene. It took me longer to build and sculpt the front of the arch than it did to build the entire lighting of the scene.

I hope this helps anyone attempting to complete a scene for their haunt or local theater, and that if anyone has questions, you’ll feel free to contact me here or through facebook. Best of luck!



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