Here you'll find the answers to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and a collection of tips for using our digital puppets successfully in your attraction.
Note: These tips and answers refer to the current versions of our puppets (except Frosty). We no longer support the older versions, and their features, but for tips using the older versions of our puppets, see the FAQ for old versions.
If you are having trouble with things like puppet placement, multi-monitor support, color problems, etc., it's likely because the puppet is selecting the wrong resolution to run at.
If you hold down the Option (on Mac) or Alt (on Windows) key during startup, you will be presented with a dialog box that allows you to try different resolution and quality settings. This fixes most issues.
You may be tempted to use this software to make a static performance by doing screen capture using a screen capture utility like Snapz Pro. While it might be better than nothing, this is not the intended use of our puppets.
A live performance by a puppeteer, which interacts directly with your visitors, is going to be far more memorable and engaging than a canned animation. When kids realize that the creature is talking directly to them, that's when the magic kicks in, so if you can spare someone in your haunt to act as a puppeteer, do so.
The charm of these puppets is heavily influenced by the charm of your puppeteer. Find the right person to drive your puppets and it will be a success. Get someone who is good with your target age group, particularly if you expect young kids.
It's also important to get someone with a voice that matches the puppet. Don't use one of those voice-changers that you can buy around Halloween; they typically distort your voice so much that your visitors can't tell what you are saying. Just practice and rely on good voice acting if you can; it's more believable, and it's more understandable.
We strongly recommend you don't just stick a computer monitor out on a table. That doesn't yield any magic at all.
If you have the time and capability, build something to hide the computer monitor. This can be as simple as a painted cardboard box or as complex as a frontage for your house.
One cool trick is to hide the computer monitor with a "scrim," which is a piece of black fabric which is opaque when light is pointing towards it, but is transparent when light is coming from behind it. If you place a digital puppet's screen up against a scrim, you get a field of black where the puppet "hovers" in place. (Trust us, it looks really cool.) To find the right fabric, just take a handheld device with a lit screen like an iPhone to the fabric store and just hold it behind different weights of black fabric until you find one that works well. You're looking for a fabric that lets you clearly see the lit image through the fabric, but which hides anything not lit as much as possible.
For more suggestions on facade building, see the other effects pages.
IMPORTANT: Be safe when you build a facade. Don't cover up air vents on the monitor or your computer, make sure it is supervised at all times, and use common sense when building your facade. You want your horrors to be fun, not real.
If you start up the puppet holding the "Alt" key (or the Option key on the Mac), you will be presented with a dialog that allows you to select the particular resolution to run at.
By default, our new digital puppets run at 800x600, but if you have a different aspect ratio for the monitor you intend to use, you should use this dialog to select a proper screen resolution. Smaller screen resolutions will yield better performance, but higher screen resolutions will give you a higher quality image, so you may need to experiment a bit to find the right resolution for your use.
The puppets have a camera control that allows you to zoom and rotate the camera. Using this feature, you should be able to maximize your puppet within the frame depending on the options you choose. Floating, background effects, and other options can affect the final size of your puppet, so configure your puppet the way you want and set the camera settings as a final step. Watch carefully to make sure that the effects do not get "clipped" off any of the sides of the screen, especially if you are projecting or using the monitor behind a scrim - that will kill the suspension of disbelief of your visitors quickly.
Keep in mind that for "tall" puppets like Mirror Mirror and Yorick, you might be able to get a larger screen by turning your monitor on its side. (Just be sure not to cover up the air vents!)
If you have a larger television than computer monitor, you might want to look into adapter cables which will let you display your computer's video output on the larger television screen. Similarly, an LCD projector can display your puppet very large.
Around Halloween, stores start selling "voice changer" boxes, which apply digital effects to your voice to change it.
We strongly recommend not using them.
The vast majority of these boxes distort your voice so much that your visitors will have a difficult time understanding what you are saying, or will fuzz out your vocal performance so much that it is difficult to convey emotion with anything more than the volume of your voice.
It is far, far better to just practice speaking dramatically and ominously. You can control the performance you give much more easily, your visitors will be able to understand you, and it will simplify your setup considerably.
If you really want to add some kind of effect to your voice, most karaoke machines allow you to add a slight amount of reverb to your voice, giving it an "echo" like sound. Just be careful not to make it so loud or offset that it interferes with being able to understand you.
The demo version of each puppet is fully featured, so you can test out every single feature you might want. The only difference between the demo and the registered version is the watermark displayed over the puppet. When you enter your license key into the demo version, it becomes a registered version. It will no longer prompt you for a key, and it will no longer show the watermark. That's it. There are no hidden features you have to unlock - everything the puppet can do is available to you in the demo version!
Also, please do not wait until Halloween to register. Since we run our own haunt, we simply don't have time to respond to emails on the few days leading up to "the big night". We're far more likely to be able to help with any registration issues you might have if you register a week or two before Halloween - the sooner the better. (If you're a home haunter, you understand why this is - we're up to our elbows in plastic skeletons and black paint!)
It's true that all sales are final. We're not trying to be jerks about it, though. Because these puppets are often used as "one-shot" attractions for parties and other events, and because once we give you the key, you can always use the puppet, we cannot offer refunds. Sorry.
However, we do provide a fully-featured demo version of every puppet so you can be absolutely sure it will do what you want and that it will work on your target machine before you register. We feel this is a better approach anyway, because it means you know exactly what you are buying.
Because of this, we strongly recommend you heavily test the demo in your target environment (on the same computer you intend to use in your haunt, on the same operating system, with the same monitor, etc.) before you register. That way, if there's something that would prevent you from using our puppet, you won't lose the registration cost.
For the 2012 haunting season, we re-engineered all of our puppets from the ground up. The 3D framework we had been using, Adobe Director / Shockwave3D, has not been well-supported by Adobe, and hadn't seen an update in about four years, so we rewrote our puppets in the much-better-supported Unity platform.
At this time, we took a step back and looked at the features that were causing a lot of trouble, were no longer necessary, or risked technical problems for our users at the last minute that could scuttle their plans. We deprecated several problematic features because they either caused a lot of technical issues or made it easy to have a less-effective visual experience for guests.
Microphone and prescripted performance modes were the main things we removed. The microphone performance mode was by far the feature that caused people the most technical problems, and it also yielded the poorest results, so we felt it was time to retire that feature. The prescripted performance feature is now obsolete, since computers are almost universally capable of capturing video on the fly these days, so that functionality is better covered by third-party apps like Snapz Pro.
Our puppets do not provide this feature. However, you should be able to use Snapz Pro X on Mac or a similar utility on Windows to capture the screen video for later use in a video editing application.
First, try reinstalling the puppet. This solves 90% of the issues. You can download the latest demo version from the product pages, and unlock it with your serial number after it launches. This is especially true if you are not running the current version of the puppet!
If that doesn't work, check the permissions and make sure that the application can access any data files (on Windows) in the same folder.
If you are running Mountain Lion or Lion on a Mac, you may have to go into your System Preferences, select the "Security and Privacy" panel, and set the "Allow applications downloaded from" and select the "Anywhere" option. (It is a good idea to set this back to its original value after you are done using the puppet.)
The short answer is: you don't. It only takes a few minutes to master to use keyboard control, and you'll get far better results and far better reliability.
The long answer is: if you really need to do this, you'll have to download one of the old versions of our puppets which supports this feature. See the puppet page and scroll to the bottom to see a list of releases. The 1.x series of puppets are the ones which had this feature, so download the latest 1.x version.
However, be aware that we no longer support this feature, and the 1.x versions are based on an old 3D framework which hasn't been well supported, so they are unlikely to work on modern operating systems. You will almost certainly experience problems, and may have to "downgrade" your operating system in order to use them.