By Jeff Davis
We have made many monster mud creatures over the years. Using wood frames, chicken wire, burlap and of course the drywall mud and latex paint mixture commonly referred to as “Monster Mud”. In 2006 we needed a new creature that we could add to our display but also solve a problem we have had over the years. You see, we greet our visitors at our gate at the end of the driveway whether it is trick-or-treaters on Halloween night or just people stopping by to have a look at the display. Standing at the gate can get boring and also if the weather is not cooperating a little uncomfortable. At the other end of our 75 foot driveway near our 2 story garage/shop/studio is a covered patio with a large fireplace that is very comfortable to stand near during the fall weather. The problem is that the patio is also enclosed by a small fence for privacy. We needed a way to tell if people were at the gate so we could walk down the driveway to greet them.
That’s how Mud-o-Vision was conceived. We would take a small black and white TV and use it as the head of a Mud Creature. We would hide a pinhole CCD camera in the prop. Using a Color TV and a microphone we would be able to see, hear and talk to any visitors at the gate. The basic design of the creature was based on the Ghost of Christmas future from the move Scrooged who had a TV for a head.
I found a working clear plastic 12” black and white TV at Goodwill for $20. I mounted it on a standard creature frame made out of wood and covered in chicken wire.
Next I attached a wireless video receiver that I had for sending a TV signal to another location. You can pick these up on eBay for under $20. I covered the bezel of the TV with flat black gaffers tape including the buttons and knobs at the bottom.
Because there were vent holes in the TV I covered it in black plastic before we applied the burlap soaked in mud. An extension cord was threaded up inside the body to attach the electronics to and to be able to plug him into an outlet near the gates.
After Mud-o-Vision was coated in burlap we let him dry and then air spray painted him black. We dry brushed some light grey onto him and he was complete.
All that was left to do was hook up the electronics. I made a small hole in one of the folds of burlap just below the TV and inserted the CCTV pinhole camera making sure the antenna was outside the hole for better reception. I hooked the cameras 9V power supply, the receivers power supply and the power cord to the TV to the extension cord. I attached the receiver to the TV with a coax cable. The TV is set to channel 3 to receive the signal from the receiver.
At the patio I hooked the receiver of the CCTV camera to a 13” Color TV. I made a DVD of a dozen old black and white horror movie trailers. I hooked a DVD player up to the Video Transmitter. I hooked the audio output of a Karaoke amplifier to the audio input of the transmitter. Now when you spoke into the microphone of the Karaoke machine the audio would come out the TV in the Mud-o-Vision prop. The old horror movie trailers would play on the screen. The video from the CCTV camera transmitted back to a TV on the Patio.
Now when someone came to the gates we could see and hear who it was and were able to speak back to them. We could have easily had a video camera back at the patio and transmitted that signal to the Mud-o-Vision prop and he could have had a talking head but we liked the old horror movie trailers running to entertain people.