scene. Do not skimp on the time
spent on this important aspect of
We chose to use my existing
DMX controller setup to not only
control the lighting, but also to
script the show timing in relation
to the activation of our other
major scene: Papa VooDoo. Even
though his show takes place on
the other side of our display, it
commands everyone’s attention.
Most of the other lights are shut
off during his performance, and
to say his audio track is powerful
is a huge understatement. We
wanted to insure that the two
scenes would never be playing
simultaneously, and this
arrangement allowed us to do
that (see Figure 14).
The free program, Vixen was
used to develop the lighting and prop activation sequence.
All of the components were individually added to precisely
time out each event.
Facade and Supporting Props
It was necessary to build a facade to mount the
skeleton to with additional sections added to complete the
scene. When finished, the witch’s shack will consist of three
four foot wide panels with an additional four foot panel on
each side. The illusion will be completed with the addition
of a roof section constructed from lathe panels.
I constructed traditional studio flats using 1x3s for the
framing and attaching siding. This gives the illusion of a
wood slat hut which supports our back story. The scene
would not be complete without including the necessary
witches accessories such as potion bottles, brooms, black
cats, and spell books all covered in spooky cobwebs. My
industrial DIY web shooter (Figure 15) makes quick work of
the often laborious and time-consuming task of adding the
The Rest of the Cast
At least for the time being, the remaining two witches
will perform as they have in the past. Several improvements
have been suggested and discussed, but they will have to
wait for the next revision. Updating them at a later date will
allow the show to become “new” again for those that see
the show each year. It is so important to keep things fresh
when putting on a display.
We will, however, tie the activation of the flying witch
into the script. We do not want her flying up and
interrupting the action whenever she pleases!
Recording It for Posterity
The project would not be complete without it being
recorded for posterity. The popular adage “photos or it did
not happen” certainly applies. I am very blessed to have a
professional photographer as a son and part of the team.
Bryan Koci can always be counted on to take the time from
his hectic schedule to document each of my creations. His
professionalism shines through in his ability to bring each
character to life and present them in their best light.
Closing the Book on this
The magic formula that made this a reality was the
result of plenty of hard work from an extremely talented
group of individuals. If you would like to see the
performance of the full witch’s coven, check out my
You Tube channel after Halloween. I will be sure to post a
video of them conjuring up their spells! You can also check
out the build thread on the Halloween Forum at
http://tinyurl.com/zdndaoe to see the entire process
Since this issue arrives as we prepare for Halloween, I
hope to see some examples posted on the forum of how
you apply your technical prowess to celebrate the season.
Post your projects to the DIY Animatronics section at
Keep creating, and may the passion to build be with
SERVO 10.2016 13
Figure 14. A DMX satellite box ties the
scene into the main show.
Figure 15. With a little magic, we turn
glue into spider webs.