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Home > Haunter's Lbrary > Haunt Scares, Designs & Effects > The Perfect Dot Room

Perfect Dot Room: A Quick Primer
By Jim Beatty

 

You have the black walls with fluorescent paint dots and the black outfit with a matching dot pattern; now all that's left is to turn on the blacklight! Wait…you can still see the actor. Maybe if you dim the blacklight a little with some black spray paint on the tubes…nope, there's the actor, still clinging to the wall in a vain attempt at camouflage. Now what?

If you have a Dot Room (or a variation of the concept) in your Haunt, chances are you've gone through some trial and error to get it right. One might think that painting fluorescent spots on black walls (draped or undraped), doing the same to a black hooded costume and then turning on the blacklights is all there is to it. While that can generate some cool effects, it isn't sufficient for creating the environment for actor invisibility. The method we developed while perfecting this illusion at Knott's "Scary" Farm over the years does require a bit more work, but the results are well worth it.

The first step is to eliminate the corners of the room. You can do this by covering your walls and ceiling (if applicable) with a loosely stapled layer of chicken wire. Leave enough play in the wire to create uneven shapes, i.e. bumps, folds, nooks, and crannies, for your characters to blend and hide in.Cover the wire with flame treated upholsterer's foam rubber to cushion any sharp or rough surfaces. Then staple fire retardant black duvetyn material over the foam to match the walls.

For the dots, I prefer using the round self-adhering Avery fluorescent color coding labels in sizes 3/4" and up. Mix colors like red, green, yellow, orange, and white (which glows blue under blacklight), or use one uniform color and different sizes. Stick these on the duvetyn in random patterns on the walls, ceiling and floor; don't use too many or too few (think of star constellations in the night sky). Apply the dots with the blacklights on and in place to see how your creation is progressing. If the dots start to come loose, use white glue sparingly on the edges.

The Dot Room costume consists of a black robe or coveralls, black gloves, a hood with a scrim over the face, and shoe covers if needed. If your attraction is going to have a short run, the Avery dot stickers can be applied to your character's black hood, costume and shoes. For a more permanent dot costume, use fluorescent iron-on fabric "patch" material cut into the same size circular shapes. This may take a bit of hunting to obtain, but you should have good luck using Internet search engines. If you still want to paint the dots, use circular templates and fluorescent spray paint.

When done correctly, the Dot Room is a great effect. It disorients the patrons and provides great startle scares. It is a very effective room design, a crowd pleaser and the perfect addition to any 3D attraction. By eliminating the corners of the rooms and using press-on stickers for the dots, you should have no problem hiding your actors in plain sight.

 

Jim Beatty in the owner of Artistic Blacklight Creations/Decor. He can be reached at entventabcd@cs.com or by phone at 310-278-2800.

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