I’ve been asked quite a few times on how this was done. The singing pumpkins themselves (pumpkin faces only) are actually pretty easy and I detail how to do this below in PHASE 1. You should really stop there as that is all the wow factor you need. If you are looking to do something totally unnecessary and add a synchronized movie behind the singing pumpkins, then you can read on to PHASE 2 (Multi-Screen).
Here’s a highlight video from our 2015 show (both Phase 1 & Phase 2):
PHASE 1 – The Singing Pumpkins
Short Version: grab a projector, a few uncarved pumpkins and purchase whatever singing pumpkin animation/song you want at TheSingingPumpkin.com. They have good tutorials there too. That’s it! Oh, and if you do decide to buy, please tell them that member “EH130” sent you!
Long Version: Here’s how I pulled it off…
Pumpkin Face Animations
I purchased most of the animations from TheSingingPumpkin.com as I really liked how friendly and fluid the faces appeared. We have hundreds of kids traffic our driveway on Halloween night each year and I like having everything be family friendly and not super-scary.
I use a 2700 lumen projector (4:3 ratio) to display the faces. It didn’t need to be HD or wide screen, so I was able to save money there. It just needed to be bright. I found mine (NEC NP410W) on Craigslist for only $125, with only 17 hours on the original lamp. That means the lamp is still super bright (they dim over time, and affordable replacement lamps are never quite as bright).
The first two years (’13 & ’14), I used real pumpkins. I decided on the third year (’15) to move on to Funkins (reusable fake pumpkins). One large one in the middle and two smaller ones on the side. The animator designs the animation to accommodate this format. He also uses Funkins, and, after talking with him, I decided to use the following:
Funkin Model Number
BUD FUN-KIN W-11.75″ H-11.75″ (#097)
GRANATA FUN-KIN W-15″ H-15″ (#026)
I made a few modifications to the pumpkin show based on year’s past. I found kids AND parents LOVED seeing the pumpkins sing, but this, however, led to a problem: parents needed to pull their kids away so they could continue trick-or-treating. After all, it’s halloween! So I put a 13-second intermission between each song to allow time for the parents to whisk their kids away.
Other adjustments include:
- During intermission, I used a special video of the pumpkins staying still but with random movements. TheSingingPumpkin has this for sale as well.
- I added a loop to the video so that it would repeat (obviously)
- I added chapter markers to each song, so I could skip to a song if someone wanted to watch the song again, see a different song, or wanted to skip the intermission.
- I put string lights to prevent kids from walking between the projector and the pumpkins (lesson learned from ’13)
- I added a colorful disco party ball since kids liked dancing with the songs
- I added a huge timer during intermission so parents could know how much time they had to leave or to wait.
- In 2015, I added a second screen (more on that below)
If you this post helped you in any way and you do end up purchasing animations from TheSingingPumpkin.com, please tell them that member “EH130” sent you! Thanks!! I also enjoy comments and questions, so if you have any, please feel free to comment below or send me an email (email address at the end of this post).
PHASE 2 – Multi-Screen
OK, STOP! You do not need to do phase 2! Seriously, adults & kids are amazed enough at the pumpkins singing (phase 1) and if you’re looking for a WOW, that’s all you need to do. We did Phase 1 for years and we could have just stopped there! This PHASE 2 part is only for those interested on how I synchronized a movie screen behind the singing pumpkins. This is complicated (at least to me anyway).
Multi-Screen (complicated part)
I started the multi-screen setup in 2015 and that involved the original pumpkin show projector (as described above) PLUS another projector in full sync with the pumpkins, displaying a movie on the screen hanging on the garage. It’s fully synced because it’s one file. More on that below…
Multi-Screen Research & Development
I knew I wanted to have a second screen (as seen in the video) that would be in complete sync with the pumpkins singing. I initially planned on having two different video files that were in sync together. The problem I ran into was that I liked having chapter markers (for skipping). This ruled a lot of options out.
If I kept it one file, I could keep the chapter markers. That’s what led to the idea of doing a double wide video. I just needed something to split the movie right down the middle into two different projectors. I soon found this little gem that could do it: Matrox Dual Head 2 Go ROHS Compliant USB Powered D2G-A2A-IF
It took a little work, but I was able to create a movie that was 2731 x 768 that could handle both videos side by side. Here is an actual screenshot from the main video file:
That translates to this:
I added a little black space in the middle to prevent the second screen from bleeding over to the pumpkin projector. Oh, and you’ll notice that the pumpkins are not in the middle of the screen (as what comes from the animator). This is an adjustment I made so that the projector could be a little lower.
I borrowed lots of cute video clips from the internet and put them into my own custom music videos to accompany the pumpkins as they sing. Took maybe a few hours per song, but I only did it for every other song to not make it too distracting and steal the show from the pumpkins. I cut out everything that was scary for young kids.
I originally used Final Cut Pro 7 to create the initial singing pumpkin show with chapter markers. FCP7 turned out to be super handy with Multi-Screen too since that allowed for the double wide video resolution. The big trick was to keep it easy was to create 2 movies for each song: pumpkins singing and the background movie. When I created the 2731 x 768 file, I simply arranged the final pumpkin movie to the left and the final background movie to the right. I had to sync the audio from the two movies, but once it was synced, I muted the audio from one of the videos, so there was just one audio source. To keep the videos in the same position for each song, I made sure the coordinates for the left video and right video were consistent. I also put a vertical black bar between the videos to prevent the bleed over.
After I exported the double-wide video to a movie file, I added chapter markers using a third party tool. I set the desktop to have the double-wide resolution and then played the video full-screen. The Matrox then magically split the scene to the two projectors. It worked like a charm!
We’ve been running the show since ’13 and I can say for certain that children never grow tired of it. Kids all race to the house with candy on their mind, and then ZAP, the singing pumpkins stops them in their tracks. They just stare and can’t believe what they’re looking at. Parents literally have to pull their children away because they stare for too long. As parents are pulling, the kid’s eyes stay glued to the show! It’s definitely flattering.
A lot of folks setup & run the show during the entire Halloween season. They find a way to secure the projector somehow since it’s left alone. Others run the show as part of their elaborate Halloween setup. I have the show as the main centerpiece on Halloween night with both our families sitting and watching children react to the pumpkins.
If you decide to do the show, please let the folks at TheSingingPumpkin.com know that EH130 sent you. 🙂
I imagine you may have questions. If you do, please feel free to email me at “truewalk” (at) “gmail” (dot) “com” (remove the parenthesis) or leave a comment in the fancy Facebook comment section below. Feel free to let me know if any of this helped!