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DIY holograms: Make ghostly images with steam and mirrors

You don't have to be Princess Leia to create a hologram-like message. YouTuber Shanks FX explains how to make ethereal illusions for your next movie or haunting.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Need to send a secret message to a rebel base? Or maybe you'd like to give the impression your house is haunted? You can make your own holograms -- or rather, the illusion of them -- with these handy tips from YouTube sensation Joey "Shanks FX" Shenkenberg.

There's the classic "Pepper's Ghost" technique that creates the illusion of someone in a room who's not really there. While it looks like a diorama, this is a great way to teach kids how to make a ghostly figure relatively easily. The technique is named after scientist John Henry Pepper, who popularized the effect.

To create the illusion of a hologram, all you need is glass, mirrors, steam and a projector. When you light the background, it makes the hologram illusion even more believable.

The Pepper's Ghost technique can make objects look transparent in a different location. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

This is the same technique, with mirrors and a projector, that was used for the Tupac hologram effect in Snoop Dogg's 2012 concert.

"It may be years away, but the groundwork is starting," Shanks, a member of the PBS Digital Studios network, says in his video. "Apple just secured a patent for a 3D system display that could create interactive 3D holograms. This shows you what direction they'll eventually try to take the iPhone 9, 10, 11, 12."