Pepper's ghost

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A viewer looking through the red rectangle sees a ghost floating next to the table. The illusion is created by a large piece of glass or a half-silvered mirror, situated between viewer and scene (green outline). The glass reflects a mirror-image room (left) that is hidden from the viewer.
If the mirror-image room (left) is darkened, it does not reflect well in the glass. The empty room (top) is brightly lit, making it very visible to the viewer.
When the lights in the mirror-image room are raised (with the empty room being dimmed slightly to compensate), the ghost "appears" out of nowhere.

Pepper's ghost is an illusionary technique used in theater and in some magic tricks. Using a plate glass and special lighting techniques, it can make objects seem to appear or disappear, or make one object seem to "morph" into another.


[edit] Illusion

In order for the illusion to work, the viewer must be able to see into the main room, but not into the hidden mirror room. The edge of the glass may be hidden by a cleverly designed pattern in the floor. Both rooms may be identical mirror-images; this approach is useful in making objects seem to appear or disappear. This effect can also be used to make an actor reflected in the mirror appear to turn into an actor behind the mirror (or vice versa). This is the principle behind the Girl-to-Gorilla trick found in many haunted houses and in the James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever. The mirror room may instead be painted black, with only light-coloured objects in it. When light is cast on the objects, they reflect strongly in the glass, making them appear as ghostly images superimposed in the visible room.

The world's largest implementation of this illusion can be found at the Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor attractions at several Walt Disney Parks and Resorts theme parks. Here, a 90-foot (27 m)-long scene features a single Pepper's Ghost effect. Guests travel along an elevated mezzanine, looking through a 30-foot (9.1 m)-tall pane of glass into an empty ballroom. Animatronic "ghosts" move in hidden black rooms beneath and above the mezzanine. The reflections in the glass, which is vertical rather than angled, create the appearance of three-dimensional, translucent ghosts. These swarm through the ballroom, seeming to interact with props in the physical ballroom, disappearing when the lights on the animatronics are turned off.

An example which combines the Pepper's Ghost effect with a live actor and film projection can be seen in the Mystery Lodge exhibit at the Knott's Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California and the Ghosts of the Library exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, as well as the depiction of Maori legends called A Millennium Ago at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea.[1][2] Pepper's ghost exhibits also known as SpectraVision are beginning to be more widely used in museums, as they attempt to create livelier attractions that will appeal to contemporary visitors accustomed to multimedia experiences.

In the mid-70s James Gardener designed the Changing Office installation in the London Science Museum, consisting of a 1970s-style office that transforms into an 1870s-style office as the audience watches. It was designed and built by Will Wilson and Simon Beer of Integrated Circles. Another particularly intricate Pepper's Ghost display is the Eight Stage Ghost built for the British Telecom Showcase Exhibition in London in 1978. This display follows the history of electronics in a number of discrete transitions.

More modern examples of Pepper's Ghost effects can be found in various museums in the United Kingdom and Europe and use a video variation on the illusion known as the Musion Eyeliner. Examples of these in the United Kingdom are a "ghost" of John McEnroe at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, which reopened in new premises in 2006, and one of Sir Alex Ferguson, which opened at the Manchester United Museum in 2007.[3] Other examples include the ghost of Sarah (who picks up a candle and walks through the wall) and also the ghost of the Eighth Duke at Blenheim Palace. In October 2008 a life-sized Pepper's Ghost of Shane Warne was opened at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne, Australia. [4] produced by The Shirley Spectra. [5]

[edit] John Pepper & Henry Dircks

The Royal Polytechnic was a permanent science-related fair, first opened in 1838. With a degree in chemistry, John Henry Pepper joined the institution as a lecturer in 1848. The Polytechnic awarded him the title "Professor." In 1854, he became the director and sole lessee of the Royal Polytechnic.

In 1862, inventor Henry Dircks developed the Dircksian Phantasmagoria, a technique used to make a ghost appear onstage. He tried unsuccessfully to sell his idea to theaters. His method would require theaters to be completely rebuilt just to support the effect. Later in the year, Dircks set up a booth at the Royal Polytechnic, where it was seen by John Pepper.

Pepper realized that the method could be modified to make it easy to incorporate into existing theaters. Pepper first showed the effect during a scene of Charles Dickens's The Haunted Man, to great success. Pepper's implementation of the effect tied his name to it permanently. Though he tried many times to give credit to Dircks, the title "Pepper's Ghost" stuck.

[edit] See also

  • Head-up display
  • Schüfftan process
  • Teleprompter a modern variation on pepper's ghost used primarily in the television industry typically to allow a newsreader to read text and maintain eye contact with the camera simultaneously

[edit] References

  • History of the University, University of Westminster. February 18, 2006
  • Steinmeyer, Jim. Discovering Invisibility. 1999.
  • Steinmeyer, Jim. Hiding the Elephant. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003.
  • Steinmeyer, Jim. The Science Behind the Ghost. 1999.
  • Surrell, Jason. The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies. New York: Disney Editions, 2003.
  1. ^ Museum of Wellington City & Sea
  2. ^ SpectraVision and Soundscapes
  3. ^ Meet Sir Alex - the hologram
  4. ^ Shane Warne - Cricket Found Me
  5. ^ The Shirley Spectra

[edit] External links

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