View Full Version : Photo Souvineers

RJ Productions
11-09-2007, 07:18 PM
With people going to IAAPA (I can't go, the Godson's getting married!!!) maybe someone can keep their eyes open....

A couple years ago a company showed at TW with a digital photo system. Similar to the highspeed cameras that take the photo on the roller coasters.

System would be set up to photo the people at a scare in the haunt and then you could sell them. Digital advantage was no actual film wasted.

We were one of the four haunts that were featured in a live video feed on FearNet.com. We had customers in live phoning friends to watch them while they were in the haunt. Some asked as if there was a way to get a photo of them in the haunt. So I'm thinking maybe it's time to look into this type of add on.

If anyone sees a similar company, please take note. It may be time to consider it.


11-10-2007, 08:18 AM
I remember a company a few years ago, I think it was ScreamShots? As far as I know they have gone out of business. To my knowledge they were the only company that produces anything geared for haunts.

Then again it wouldn't be hard to use a "roller coaster" type system in a haunt environment. My only hangup is how exactly do guests find their photo?

In our haunt, just because you went in 20 minutes before another group doesn't mean you get out before them, it really depends on how fast you get through the maze. Some people get through our haunt in 30 minutes, some in an hour. Maybe short of putting up an LED sign or something with "Your photo number is" after the flash goes off.. I dunno.

11-11-2007, 10:56 AM
We thought about doing this a couple of years ago. The best way I could figure would be to set up a no-fail scare in the very first room (or a room close to the entrance). This way, you know that the group you are shooting has not been distorted. They haven't caught up to the group in front of them, and they haven't had a group rush into them. Also, the beginning is usually good for a scare because of the suspense build up from the wait in line.

One novelty idea I thought of was to make the captured scare something off the wall. Use something that is a great startle, but make the scene and the actor something that no one should be afraid of. A grown man in a diaper and a baby bonnet with a chainsaw or something. I think it would generate more sales. A group of people all picking on each other because they almost lost their bladder control over something so silly. And it's on film. I would buy it.

The capture at the beginning and the sale at the end leaves plenty of time for a variety of fulfillment options. The equipment was where we had trouble. We thought about using a video camera and a strobe in the room and a capture system in the gift shop capable of adjustable frame rates so that we could sync the capture with the strobe and generate 10-15 well lit shots in a matter of a couple of seconds. Syncing with the lighting is difficult and queuing the start and stop of the capture is almost impossible without another camera and monitor so the operator knows when the customers enter the room. We tried an audible queue with a mic set up in the room prior, but that presented another world of problems. Another obstacle we ran into was, with only one operator, it was hard to capture the scare, pull the best stills for each group, and present them to customers when they reached the end while still monitoring and capturing the oncoming customers in the show. We considered two operators, but then it became a pain so we gave up, but then we were trying to use stuff we already had to make this work.

The theme park setup would be ideal. Their cameras are obviously triggered by the position of the coaster, otherwise they wouldn't be consistent. This means they could likely be setup to trigger with a eye-sensor or a mat. Maybe actor triggered? That would depend on the scene i suppose.

They are capable of taking multiple shots on one trigger, with flash, because they capture every seat on every pass and usually the photos are taken in a tunnel. This would be good in a haunt application because some people scare fast and some scare slow. The actor could conceiveably trigger the camera and scare at the same time and provide 10-15 shots in sequence over the next couple of seconds. The operator in the gift shop could pick the best one and have it on screen for the customer to preview before printing.

I'm not sure how the back end of the setup works. I know the ones I have seen have been previewed on a series of monitors because they're showing the coaster at once. I think for this you would only need one monitor, ask the customer if they want a print, then go from there. I have no idea how much it would cost of how customizable it is, but I'd say it's worth looking into. At $5.00 a pop, there is serious profit potential.

11-11-2007, 07:30 PM
Yeah that sounds like a great idea, so after you buy five large TV's at $500 a pop, a server at 600, the software to do this along with the camera, flashes, printers, and client systems package at oh we'll go cheap and say $5000, it will only take 1600 pictures or so to pay it off. But then you factor in the cost of each picture at about a $1 a hit and now you're looking at $2000 pictures to pay it off.

But that's not really the cost of it. There is no system setup for the particulars of Haunted Houses, the roller coaster system weighs in around $50,000 or so. And if you are talking about an in Haunt Scare camera you pretty much need the same thing. Now maybe I am wrong and someone has something, but I have not seen it.

Here is a real suggestion.

Instead setup a scene outside of your haunt, fully detailed with some kind of hook to it. An electric chair, a huge monster, a giant cauldron, you fill in the blank. Anyways you can incorporate a scare into this very easily, an air cannon, crazy obnoxious sound, whatever. I think you'll find most people don't want to look scared. Then you can use a normal digital camera with a stand alone digital printer, HP sells a nice one, to get everything you need. Attach the picture to a customized back made for your haunt, in the style that Disney and the other parks put their pictures in jackets, and you have a great little thing going.

Yes it will work. You can expect to make about 20% of the number of people you put through in dollars. So if you put through about 10,000 people expect to make about $2000.

Startup cost is not to bad. Camera about 150, printer 250, 50 worth of memory cards. If you do it right the cost of each picture w/ the back should be about $.85

Simple easy, works great.


11-11-2007, 08:40 PM
We tried the outside "have your photo taken with our monsters" thing as well. A couple of different variations of it. Didn't sell very well. I don't think it has the same effect.

I can't remember the name of the place, but there is a company that offers a "Thrill Ride Photo" complete system (less computers) for $15,000 and they will sell just the software, capture card, and triggers for WAY less. You could use just about any strobe (or just a well lit room) and camera and you would need to find a computer or two. Don't really need a huge server unless you're producing super high res photos and you're planning on keeping ALL of them. Amusement parks set a time limit on their stuff. If you don't pick up your photo within 10 minutes or so, they're deleted so that the space is free. Even if you do buy your photo, I'm sure the photo is deleted shortly after it's printed. A single 80gb hard drive, with the OS and necessary software installed could still hold more than enough photos for a night's worth of customers. I think this can all be done on a reasonably fast pair of consumer PC's (800Mhz Proc. and 256mb RAM would do it). And I guarantee there are alternate warez and triggers that could be used to accomplish the same thing. I'm thinking surveillance software maybe? There is free software out there that uses the camera as a motion trigger to start and stop capture. You would just need to put a lot of thought and planning into the scene and how the scare is executed, group placement, and proper spacing between groups. Most haunts already have such measures in place. As far as point-of-sale, I don't see why 5 TV's would be necessary. The customers could view the images just as easily on the PC's monitor, right? I dunno. I think it could be done for under 5k$ with a minimum of 2 operators and the photos could be of a REAL scare and not a staged one.

11-12-2007, 08:03 AM
I know USS Nightmare does this. They have an area in the queue line with a green screen (actually just a wood panel painted green). They get the entire group that came together in front of the screen and snap a picture. They also have a camera in the first room that snaps a pic.

These are saved to a networked hard drive and on another pc at the exit, an operator prints them out. In Photoshop, they quickly paste the green screen photo onto a background, then print them all out and have them on shelves on a wall, you look at them and purchase them if you want. They charge $10 for a single picture, $15 for two or $40 for six. The night we visited they seemed to be selling well, but that's an awful lot of waste in the ones printed that don't sell.

Mr Nightmarez
11-13-2007, 01:27 PM

They do it. There are other smaller companies out there that do it too. We do it and its not a bad deal - its all on how you market it.

11-13-2007, 06:00 PM

They do it. There are other smaller companies out there that do it too. We do it and its not a bad deal - its all on how you market it.

Whose equipment/software do you use?

Jim Warfield
11-13-2007, 07:08 PM
Johnson & Smith used to sell an X-ray device for seeing people with clothes on naked, hook this to your customer camera and really increase those picture sales!
They would usually actually be "Blackmail" pictures they would have to buy to save face.
Then the salespeople could use that old line:"Do you have a picture of your wife naked? Would you like to buy one?"
Not autographed......

11-30-2007, 11:52 AM
RFID is what I am waiting for. Your group gets a token necklace (RFID tag embedded in it) to wear and as they go through the haunt, different pics are taken. At the exit, the pics associated with that RFID tag show up on the screen automaticly. The customer tells the sales person which pic numbers they want and a high speed printer prints it out as they pay. Or save the paper and sell them a link to a website they can go to and print the pics themselves for a cheaper price.

Even further in to the RFID idea, have each person with their own RFID tag and get their name before they go into the haunt. Lets see, free necklace just for giving me your name, and as we talk, I ask you a few quick questions that I can select answers to on my palm. The RFID tag and your answers are now associated so as you go through the event, my actors know a little about each and every one coming through. ("Hey Suzie, heard you don't like spiders, here is a couple from my collection for your hair!!") Oh and now sell pics with even better expressions on their faces!!

Brett - JamBam

Doug Kelley
11-30-2007, 09:19 PM
RFID tags would work but you have to be careful with them. The readers are more sensitive than you might think. We tried to do airline check-in with them about eight years ago (when check-in kiosks themselves were pretty new) and had problems with every check-in kiosk at the airport attempting to check in our passengers as they walked by! Never got it to work right. The resolution might not be good enough unless you only have a couple of customers walking in at a time. But, the technology is pretty cheap.

12-20-2007, 11:40 AM
We have discussed this many times for our haunt. Our idea was to have a digital video camera with someone that would moniter it and take the Golden picture when he felt like it was best. It would be wired to a DVR or computer which would automatically save 400-500 of the shots. Then it would route to a projector screen at the end of the haunt near the concession stand with a number imprinted on the bottom corner of the shot. Once the people walk out of the haunt they will all have a big screen to watch and see all the peoples reactions and can wait for their picture with the corresponding number on the bottom. If they desire to buy the photo then they go to the concession stand and request the number that was taken. That way you only have to print the shots that the customer will pay for.

We have even talked to some computer programmers and they feel that there is already software that would run the system with very little programming.

Thats what we plan to do, but it may be a year or more before we can budget the cost.


12-20-2007, 07:38 PM
Being a pretty good photographer, I can see the good and bad in this. The bad is that it is fairly difficult to take a decent photo. Generally it's kind of dark inside so you have the whole focusing/lighting issue. Then people tend to jump back, close their eyes or turn their heads when they get scared so they might not be happy about the final result.

I like Freddie's idea of a staged scare or a photo with props or actors. I would take it a step further and have everyyone make a scared or surprised look when you take the photo. The novelty of the expressions will probably bump up your sales tremendously.

The other idea is video, which seems to be what a lot of the systems described in this thread are using. Videotape a scene inside your haunt and burn it to a CD. They are cheaper than printing out a photo on paper and combine the benefits of sight and sound, along with being able to see everyone's reaction. No telling their friends they didn't jump when the video is far sale as they come out.

Many people would probably pay more for a video than a still photo as well, making it even more profitable.