Scott Shier, with his namesake organization, Shier Terror, presented a pneumatics seminar in May, 2015, at the West Coast Haunters Convention in Portland, Oregon. His intent was to expose a group of fifteen “Home Haunter” students to the capabilities of pneumatic systems as they are often used in haunted houses.
‘Haunting’ with Pneumatics
West Coast Haunters Convention is presented each year as a charity event that gathers home haunters and Halloween enthusiasts for three days of classes on everything in the haunted attraction industry from makeup and actor training to prop making and special effects. The charity raises money year-round and all of the proceeds from the convention and other events go to support teachers and other professionals that work with deaf, hard-of-hearing and autistic students throughout the Northwest.
“Home Haunters” are those twisted Halloween fanatics that put up elaborate displays in their homes for Halloween. Many of them do full walk-through attractions inside their garages (or other parts of their homes). Scott has several pneumatic props that pop out at trick-or-treaters just like the bigger, professional haunted houses. Scott builds all of his own props and this year he decided to teach a class about using pneumatics at the convention.
The prop that Scott chose for his seminar is known as a “barrel pop-up”; a simple mechanism that pushes a scary mask up from inside a trash can or barrel. A remotely mounted valve is typically triggered by a motion sensor of some sort. The air passing through the valve extends the pneumatic cylinder, and in the case of the barrel pop-up, a lever is used to increase the reach, and to also give the appearance that the creature is lunging forward – out of the barrel toward the unsuspecting trick-or-treater.
As part of their course fee, the students were provided with all the AutomationDirect Nitra® pneumatic parts required for the mechanical apparatus, and they enjoyed following along as Scott showed them how to assemble their own barrel pop-up. When the class was over, each attendee had a completed mechanism which needs only an appropriate housing (barrel) and mask with which to start terrorizing their respective neighborhoods.
If you would like to see a walk-through video of Scott’s 2014 Home Haunt, click on the video player below. The “Barrel Pop-up” occurs at about 2:30 in this video. See if you can spot the other pneumatic mechanisms in the video.
By Chip McDaniel, AutomationDirect
Visit Scott’s site: Shier Terror
Learn more about the West Coast Haunter’s Convention
To read more articles about pneumatics, click here.
Originally Published: Sept. 3, 2015