View Full Version : Warning system for actors (question)

10-16-2012, 11:05 AM
More and more I hear and see actors waiting to pounce on someone who may or may not be coming down the dark hallway. On those slow periods where the actor is face planted against plywood peeking through the tiny peep-holes I ask this question:
Would it be a good idea to have a warning system for actors?
Some actors have sounds from props for letting them know people are coming. But other actors just wait and wait especially just before closing time.
Here is an interesting fact. Depends on who you ask this question to you get different answers.
The owners of haunts (the ones I know) would say there is little need to make them as there is such a little need for them.
The actors (the ones I asked) would say, hell yes it would be nice to have a warning system.

There is a need for an actor warning system but I don’t see it being useful during the busy times until closing time. The warning system could be something as simple as a dim LED that goes on where the actor needs to be. When a person comes near the actor can be ready and waiting, without that waiting and waiting feeling that takes down the testosterone actors have.

Very interested in your thoughts on this.

Allen H
10-16-2012, 12:18 PM
I use peepholes, not just where the scare is but also at an advanced position so they can see them coming. As long as the expense is low I think a warning system is a good idea- have you seen these? I stab the speaker so it stops working, then the red LEDs are the warning for the actors.

they also have this one but you need to rewire the LED so it can be on the other side of the wall.
I have done both as actor alarm and they both work well.
Allen H

10-16-2012, 02:07 PM
Thanks Allen this is a great link. And its good to know you are pro warning system too.

I like this as a warning unit but someone out there reading this should remake these and sell them to haunters. Maybe remove the LEDs and use a single green light. Or even better, use a yellow for a 'get ready' setting and then a green LED for 'go'.


10-16-2012, 04:36 PM
or how about have an animatronic jump out at the actor to let him know it's time to jump out at the customers!


11-13-2012, 09:18 AM
This is actually a good idea I think. Too many times I have actors left standing in ready positions when no one is coming right then. Really kills their excitement level. Currently we use a few sounds and each actor along a chain listens for them. But that's easy to miss over the sound of props and distance. I was thinking of just hooking several small lights together on a strand and go through each room. Our outside actor just pushes a button to make them blink once or twice giving a " here they come " signal that is quiet and won't be noticed.

Jim Warfield
11-13-2012, 09:54 AM
The Scare-Actor has more than one hiding place to keep them using that "Testy-Stuff". I know,"I'm bored" gets quickly replaced by ,"I can't do THAT!"
I have never been able to understand boredum when you are waiting to scare someone? Just ME, I guess? As a small kid I had patience to out-wait others when that meant that you would "Win" and they would be Losing.
Maybe my other personality quirks and short-comings need to be off-set by this, or..... something?

11-13-2012, 06:23 PM
I can wait myself with little problem and so can a few other actors I have. We basically are our characters..we patrol our areas and keep in the mindset even when we aren't scaring someone.. ;) Others just can't. When they get bored they wander off to find others to talk with or do something. Not a problem when we're slammed but when we aren't it's gets annoying.

11-13-2012, 09:45 PM
I've also seen this done with a basic motion sensor security light from Home Depot. Using the sensor, The light it triggers could be in the next scene with your actor(s) and made a practical light in the scene, such as a desk lamp, or LED candle. They know when this light in their room comes on it's go time.

12-20-2012, 02:29 PM
I use effects and noises, and even specific commands actors shout out at unsuspecting visitors. For example, in one room I have an antique telephone on a stand (next to our coffin). The actor in the coffin has a plunger switch in the coffin with them that rings the phone. This lets the person in the next room know someone is coming in. And it adds a little to the room with the coffin.

In another room, I have an actor that yells to passing patrons to "Look at me" as they begin to enter the next room, alerting the actor in the next room to drop a panel. Works every time!

01-07-2013, 09:10 PM
Years ago I put a lot of thought into building a system that would track patrons as they moved through the house with the use of motion sensors, door switches and switch mats. I started drawing up plans for units that had multiple LEDs, ones that could be numbered to represent each room in the house and would light up as customers went through the house. I wanted each room to be linked to a central unit that could relay triggers and signals out to all the other room units so that they would all be displaying the same information. This really wouldn’t be that hard to configure. So I started thinking of what else I could use these units for. A panic or trouble button came to mind. Another set of LEDs that could light up red for trouble, and indicate where the problem was in the house. Then I figured I could add a siren to the central unit that would go off whenever someone pushed a panic or trouble button in the house. I kept adding additional functionality like additional LEDs to each unit to indicate when the house was in run or stop mode, break times, etc… I really thought that I could build this system that would keep everyone up to speed on what was going on in the house. I even had an idea to incorporate a telephone system into the units so rooms could talk to one another if they wanted.

Then I started adding up the cost of the components; LEDs, relays, switches, connectors, wire, project boxes, etc… It added up to well over $1000.00. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to decide that this wasn’t a cost effective solution. I still think something like this would be great to have in a haunt and possibly someone that has connections in the home security industry might be able to put something similar together at a much more cost effective price.

01-08-2013, 05:38 AM
To: rfsystems

Love these ideas of yours. Particularly the warning system. Imagine if you made a button/trigger that lets actors press in an emergency, letting security know so to arrive there in no time. There could be poster sized haunt maps with different colored led's in every location. These posters should be displayed everywhere a security official is and at every common area where employees can see it.
The different colors could be; yellow for missing actors or actor needs (more fog, bathroom, water). Red for security. Green for House open. Blue for clogging. White for customer needs to be walked out. And so on. In a perfect world the posters would be hung in every actor station.

Granted, there is one big draw back with leds, and that is they are too bright to use in a haunt. There are ways to dim the lights but you don't want to dim the red ones.
Also, the poster maps should show passages and hidden doors for security.

I, for one, love this idea and if I had the ability to build it I would. Last season one actor from the darkness was taken away in an ambulance. If this warning system was in place haunters can very easily take care of customers and each other.

01-08-2013, 08:05 AM
I have tv monitors all around the haunt in key areas for actors even in my waiting area because I also am one of the main actors and these tv's are a mirror image off the camera system through the haunt that we watch and run props from, I also help with running props from my area to help on the busy nights with a few tied in push button triggers. The actors love this because they can also enjoy watching all the scares though out the haunt. I even have one in the ticket booth for them to watch. We also have peep holes for some and several mention they listen for animated props to let them know someone is coming.

01-09-2013, 07:55 PM
Glad to know someone liked the idea. It came about due to the way we communicate through out the haunt, 2-way radios with too much radio chatter. And the signal to let the next group in the door is a siren that’s manually triggered once a group passes a specific point. I really wanted to make something that would benefit the entire house and not just one room. I still think it’s a do-able idea.

Ok, here is were I guess a disclaimer is order… I don’t claim to be an electronic engineer nor do I mean for anyone to take this and attempt to wire up a circuit based on these thoughts. they are not meant to be instructions. Doing anything like what is described here should be done at your own risk.

In case you’re interested the thoughts or functionality it was based on isn’t that difficult to understand. Here is the way I imagined this thing working, if you’re ever interested in attempting some thing like this.

The Central unit had relays in it that connected to individual circuits that represented specific rooms. A mat switch or motion sensor triggers the relay which would light up an LED on each of the room units, indicating activity. This basic circuit would be duplicated for the number of rooms you wanted to track.

The emergency button for each room would require a bit more planning but it works off some of the same basic circuitry. The central relay and LED that represents each room is done the same, but the panic button in each room would need to be split in the central unit. One side to the relay and the other with a diode inline wired to a siren, the diode is so all the panic buttons don’t get shorting out when one of them is pushed.
This could be setup in a very raw state where you would have to go back a turn off the panic button triggered or with a little more ingenuity and an electronics degree it could be configured to function with push buttons that wouldn’t require resetting.