View Full Version : Dead House Designs Roaches and Maggots without the walls!

04-01-2011, 01:52 AM
After much work, a few too many redbulls, and many sleepless nights the software engineers at Dead House Designs have been able to create a user interface for use with our insect and maggot projections. This in effect decouples the effects from our wall panels. This is what many people seemed to want and we have been working very hard to make this possible as quickly as it could be done. You can find more information regarding our projections systems as well as the updated pricing on our website.


If yall have any questions you can contact me at harold@deadhousedesigns.com

Keep the feedback coming guys, it is how this industry grows.

Harold Bufford
Systems Engineer
Dead House Designs

RJ Productions
04-01-2011, 04:34 AM
WOW, that's a quick response to consumer demands!!! Many people I talked to liked the effect, but did not or could utilize the wall panel into their attraction. Offering just the effect will definately bring in a few more clients!!

Good luck!

Jim Warfield
04-01-2011, 07:33 AM
Just to totally confuse those roaches and maggots!
"Hey Buddies! Pals! Over here! How you doing? Can I join you guys?
Hello Baby! You're pretty foxy, care if I snuggle up next to you?
What did I do? You ignoring me for a reason?
Well, then be that way."

04-02-2011, 12:35 AM
Sweet stuff!!!!

Phil Miller
04-02-2011, 10:33 AM
I thought it was a great effect!
I was at the show trying to figure out how we could use it in our attraction but there was no where I could fit it in. I did ask if you sell just the video but was told no, and that I would need the computer to run the show. it seamed a little technically advanced and if you could make a basic version it would work for many of us.
I would think you can use a DVX player that had the effect on a SD card? either loop or trigger version? maybe 3 different effect to choose from?
You can have blackout areas for a picture, hole or pipe running down the wall, so it looks like the bugs run out or under. the black out area don't necessary have to be black but the bugs don't show in these areas. We could set up the projector and DVX and let it run, then we would add our own hole, pipe, picture and ect.
I know you would be loosing some of the cool effects, like the bugs scattering when you bang on the wall, but It would bring the cost down? then we would be able to afford a few units in our haunt. just an idea. Phil

RJ Productions
04-02-2011, 01:49 PM
IF you have a downable clip of the roaches or the maggots you might be able to utilize the neat projector that was on a thread on the Vendor Forum:

http://www.HalloweenProjector.com (http://www.HalloweenProjector.com)

I agree not as interactive, but how many of us would even need it to be interactive?? We spend a lot of time and effort telling people NOT to touch anything!!!

I would check out the projector link, it has many other uses in a haunt and probably didn't get as much exposure on that forum.

04-03-2011, 12:09 AM
Maybe some clarification regarding the insect effect will help.

The motivation for creating the effect came from wanting something that we could install in our haunted house that could adapt as the scenes change over the years. We were not satisfied with what we were seeing on the market because it did not conform to the level of realism we aim for in our endeavors. What we created is a computer program written in C# sitting on top of Microsoftís XNA platform that mathematically models the motion of an insect, the wall onto which they will be running, and the lighting source that is illuminating it. Because this is all being controlled on the fly it allows complete flexibility of all parameters. This allows the effect to be completely adaptable to whatever situation it is installed in. If you need them to be faster, slower, more of them, different bugs, different lighting, change the scene, all of it can be changed in a single package without having to go back and start over. At the time of the convention we werenít entirely there, but now with the standalone version, we are.

Producing a looped version either on a solid state player, or a DVD presents a number of problems to begin with. First is frame rate. A standard NTSC signal, which is your normal composite video, is at just less than 30 frames per second. For fast moving objects this creates a motion blur effect. While we are used to seeing this on TV and movies it makes the effect look like a video playback instead of something that is really on the wall. The second problem is resolution. Again a standard NTSC signal is only 640 by 480. When projecting that resolution onto a wall that is 8 feet it only gives a very small pixel count to create a realistic sized insect. So few in fact that it begins to look like a bunch of blocks moving around instead of an actual insect. While this can be overcome by using an HD signal which is broadcast at 60 frames per second and the full resolution of a modern cheap projector which is 1024 by 768. However the increased cost in video equipment essentially is the same cost as a cheap desktop computer. You can spend $300 on a HD solid state player, or $300 on a desktop. So the cost of the equipment to create the same effect whether being produced in real time, or looped playback is the same. The cost of development for us doesn't change either, if we run the program and capture the output to a video file it still doesnít change the 20,000+ lines of code that are generating the effect. So the cost of development for us really hasnít changed. That is where the real problem lies.

Would you buy a Ferrari just to record the noise of its engine? Of course not, the problem though is that we built a Ferrari because that is what we were looking for. What you are looking for is a pre-rendered loop done on some kind of modeling software like 3D Studio Max. This will take significantly less time and effort. AtmosfearFX has exactly this, that is what they specialize in. They have offered it for several years now. But again, that isnít what we wanted, nor was it what we set out to build.

Guys the idea is that this is an effect that can adapt with your haunted house. There are no moving parts, so itís never going to break, and you can change it up as many times as you want to fit whatever scene you choose to shove it in year after year. If your computer or projector ever eats it we will be more than happy to replace it at cost. What you are really paying for is the hundreds of hours it took to make the code that creates the effect. When you purchase it you own the right to use that code till the end of time.

That little projector is killer, but the problem again is resolution. If you look at the specs it only has 320 by 240, which means the insects and maggots would only be 4 pixels by 2 pixels. And to be honest it really isn't much cheaper than the projector we use to do the maggots, except that our projector is shooting and image at 800 by 600. So you would effectively need 6 of those little guys to cover almost the same space we can cover with 1.

The idea of interactivity should become significantly more apparent in our future software endeavors. This was just the first step where interactivity with the patrons is very limited, however interactivity with the scene is very high. Also remember that it can be triggered by your actors as well, they can scatter off some bang doors, or a drop wall, or swarm to an actor and with a little flip wall and some creative timing with the lights, make him nothing but a pile of bones right before your patrons eyes.

Remember the way we are packaging this is that it is an all-inclusive ready to go setup. You turn it on, run through the setup and it works, all the time, every time. You donít have to weld on it, replace valves and cylinders, and all the other annoying maintenance we go through every year. Once every 4 or 5 years you will need to replace the lamp in the projector, not the entire latex skin because it has dry rotted. We understand the price point unfortunately excludes a great deal of this industry. And to be honest with you guys that really sucks. However that is the reality of the market we are in. Trust me guys if Wal-Mart calls up tomorrow and orders 100,000 units the cost will drop, like crazy. But that isnít really going to happen.

Guys, we are trying to create bleeding edge effects, which are never cheap, or simple to create. We did a significant amount of work to find the cheapest components to run the programs in an effort to keep the cost down as much as possible. And we are going to continue that trend in everything we do. But at the end of the day an hour of labor is an hour of labor.

Harold Bufford
Systems Engineer
Dead House Designs

RJ Productions
04-03-2011, 05:39 AM
Thanks for the extended explaination. It sounds like a lot of work, hence an increased price point. But one also has to realize the end result. To compare the bug wall to an animation is not really fair... to your product. Pit your illusion against a similarly priced animation and the animation will have more impact, sorry! WE all thought your effect was way cool... but we look at it differently than an audience does. They may walk right past the effect, think it's interesting but itís not a scare. It is a cool effect that is meant to add a level of realism, which it could. But if you ask the audience what they remember at the end of the haunt, they will probably state the "big animated thing" not the bugs on the wall.

Not to be derogatory here at all, just a touch of reality. I really liked the effect, in fact I really liked the maggots, but to pay $3,000 in the hopes that someone actually looks INTO the toilet to see it would probably not be cost effective in my situation.

Haunters are a frugal lot. They want a big bang for their buck. Our customers are even worse. I understand that your bugs are probably the best we have been so far offered. But again they are still a projection and while they had a very realistic movement it was still quite obvious that they were being projected. You have a very neat effect and it appears you realize that the price point will preclude you from reaching a majority of the market. So why not also create something that can be utilized by a larger market share??? For the couple of seconds a patron may see your effect, they may not be able to recognize the difference in resolution. Perhaps also create a lower entry price point effect. Once the haunter has implemented it they may decide to move up later! Itís like why do new car dealers also offer used cars? Because the lower price point reaches a bigger market and once they are satisfied with the service they may decide next time to move up to a new car.

You have a cool product and some good ideas. I would hate to see you go by the way of a majority of the new vendors I have seen over the years and fade away quickly for lack of support. I just saying you might consider also offering ideas at a lower price point so you can afford to stick around. I am sure we have just exposed the tip of the iceberg in regards to what you could possibly offer the industry. I'd be interested in seein what you can come up with!!

Either way, I wish you the best of luck!