ELAN g! Takes Fright To A New Level In Chicago-Area Haunted House


Haunted houses rely on precision placement, convincing special effects and unexpected surprises. At the Carnevil haunted house at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a sophisticated ELAN® g! control system ties in professional-grade speakers, subwoofers, surveillance cameras and LED lights to create a frightening tour where the scares run like clockwork!
From the first step into the haunted house to the final terrifying moments before the tour is finished, every shriek, moan, flickering light and earth-rumbling anomaly is choreographed to maximize the fright factor. The entire 15,000-square-foot event is controlled by the ELAN g! mobile app on several iPads. The system makes it possible to quickly monitor and adjust 16 MP3 players, more than 40 speakers, a half-dozen subwoofers, more than 1,000 LED lights (some colored), and 16 surveillance cameras.
According to Dan Cochenour, the custom electronics pro who designed and installed the complex system, it took a lot of trial runs to get all the volumes and lighting levels to the optimal setting, but it was easy to adjust on-the-fly thanks to the iPad with the g! app. He also helped position the lights to make the shadows and lighting effects fall just right. His knowledge and experience with sound and lighting systems helped him choose all the best components, including the Sunfire subwoofers that can be heard and felt inside the Sears Center more than 100 feet away.
“I walked through the haunted house over and over making tiny adjustments to the brightness of each light, the volume of each speaker, the direction of light flashes and sound effects, and the amount of earth-rattling bass coming from the massive subwoofers in several rooms,” he said. “For example, in the elevator I used a 1500 Watt Sunfire subwoofer to play a sweeping resonating frequency that gets into your bones. So while the shaking elevator messes with guests’ sense of equilibrium, the flashing lights affect their perception and coherence, and the intense bass adds another layer of uneasy gut feeling to the mix. It’s pretty terrifying.”
In addition to increasing the scariness, the system also helps manage the overall operation and increase efficiency. For instance, the 16 IP video cameras allow the managers to monitor the flow of the tour and adjust when the next group starts. And for time savings, every component can be turned on or shut off at once with a single button on an iPad with the ELAN g! app.
“With everything integrated,” Cochenour continued, “we start up and shut down the whole show with the push of a button, saving us about an hour at open and close that we’d have to spend walking around to manually switch everything.”
The haunted house has a total of 16 zones of audio and 24 zones of lighting. This is the first large temporary installation of an ELAN g! system. When the haunted house closes for the year, the system will be disassembled and all of the gear will be stored in a warehouse for re-installation next year.
The haunted house’s new owner knew the ELAN g! system would help manage the operation because he has the system in his home, so he saw the direct benefits for time savings, energy efficiency and simplicity of operation.