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Homemade Madame Leota from The Haunted Mansion

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Uploaded on Oct 18, 2007

Here's my homemade animatronic Madame Leota. I used a Gypsy Spirit Ball purchased from Michael's as the base for this project.

To make her more like the famous character from Disney's The Haunted Mansion attraction I did the following:

1. Remove the ball
2. Peel off the skin (carefully.. it was glued)
3. Rewire the jaw to a circuit board obtained from a talking skull called "Talking Through Boris" purchased from K-Mart. This skull came with a microphone that made the skull's jaw move when you spoke into it.
4. Rewire the microphone input to a 3.5mm standard headphone plug.
5. Replace the skin
6. Add a little makeup to the skin
7. Remove the bandana and hair that came with the Spirit Ball and replace it with a white wig
8. Tease up the wig's hair to add volume
9. Add blue and green LED lighting into the hair
10. Create a special audio track that would make the mouth move in sync with the actual Leota audio. It's a stereo track where one channel is the Leota audio and the other just makes noise when the jaw should move.
11. Put it all together
12. Load the audio onto an MP3 player
13. Hook one channel up to the Spirit Ball using the 3.5mm jack and the other channel to a powered speaker
14. Turn it all on and enjoy!

There were many smaller steps in between and a few additional things that I rewired and added, but that's the basic idea. I think it turned out great.

Obviously the real Madame Leota in The Haunted Mansion is a projection of a real woman's face, but an animatronic is a lot more fun to have and much more portable than dealing with a projector.

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