The Magic Mirror: Haunting

Your facade is now done. It's time to generate the actual effect. To accomplish the final effect, you need to provide some sort of puppet or actor, and carefully control your lighting.

Photo of the Magic Mirror Facade

Lighting the Effect

In order for the scrim to work properly, there needs to be a lot more light in front of your facade than behind it. You want as little light behind the facade as possible. Set up your lighting situation to achieve this. You may need to drape a blanket or black plastic over the top and back of the facade if you have lights shining down into the back area.

Remember, also, that your visitors will need to be able to see where they are going, so this works to your advantage - light the front of the facade with some fairly bright, creepy light, such as some flame lights, or spooky blue and red light. So long as you have a lot more light in front than behind, the scrim should work.

Generating the Fog

Place a fog machine on the shelf of the shelving unit closest to the lion's mouth. Position the duct so that it will direct the fog out through the lion's mouth when it blasts, and make sure the fog machine's control are placed in a location where the puppeteer can easily active it.

You will want to leave yourself some time to figure out the best way to control the fog. Experimentation will help you get the best effect here, because fog can be finicky.

If you want that drifting-down fog look, you can also use a "fog chiller." Basically, if you chill the fog over ice before pushing it out the lion's mouth, it will fall and pool in the basin a bit, which is an eerie effect. There are plenty of plans on the web for building fog chillers - we built our own using an old ice chest and running ducting to a hole in it, then out the far side towards the lion's mouth.

The Mirror Itself

We have several digital puppets that you can use for your effect. If you're on a tight budget, our original puppet from 2003 is available as a free download, but it has all the warts and pimples of a hacked-together-moments-before-Halloween prop (it's the same one we used for five years at our own haunt). Otherwise, you can pick up one of the more user-friendly, polished puppets for $15.

Mirror Mirror Example Gordo Example Yorick Example Frosty Example Mirror Example
Mirror Mirror

If you don't like the digital puppets, a simple and cheap method is to just use a flashlight on your own face to create the effect. With some eerie makeup and black clothes, you could provide a convincing mask that would have far more expressive power than a digital puppet. (Be sure to plan in some breaks for your puppeteer because this can wear out your actor fast.)

Alternatively, you could create a puppet using styrofoam, card stock, or whatever else you have handy. The only thing the visitors will see through the scrim is whatever you have lit behind the scrim, so with a little experimentation with materials and lights, you should be able to come up with something entertaining.


Finally, for audio, we used a borrowed karaoke machine that would amplify our voice and add an echo effect. You could use anything similar to boost your voice, such as a microphone and amplifier.

You don't necessarily need to amplify your voice, but it gives presence to your effect, and if it gets noisy, it will be difficult to hear your puppeteer's voice behind the facade if you don't amplify it. We recommend that you do.

You might be tempted to use one of the voice changer boxes that go on sale around Halloween. We've found that they're more trouble than they're worth. Most of them distort your voice so much that it is often difficult to make out what you are even saying, let alone allowing you to carry out a coherent conversation with a visitor. Work on your voice acting a bit, rather than relying on a gimmick, and you'll deliver a performance much better than what the voice box could give you.

Continue to: Introduction - Design - Framing - Detailing - Haunting - Conclusion