my display, I run the show using an Acer netbook with
very little processing power.
The Creative Process
Synchronized lights is a great project for people that
like to tinker. You do both hardware and software, and it’s
a project that can be done year round. This hobby does
take considerable time, however.
1) First, plan out your display. This is usually done
after binge-buying Christmas lights in post-holiday
sales. Figure out where everything will go and what
needs to be returned to the store. Creating a light
display around a theme produces good results. This
step usually takes the form of a picture with lots of
notes (Figure 5).
2) Create a channel configuration. Here, you
configure what controllers you are going to use,
what lights will be hooked up to each channel, and
configure the visualizer. You will store the channel
configuration Sequence Editor, export it to a file,
and use it for each sequence. Each year, you will
update your channel configuration, so you want to
do a good job since you will import this
configuration into each sequence you do. Figure 6
shows my notes on mapping elements in my
display to channels in my configuration.
3) Create a library of effects. Using your channel
configuration, create a library of effects that you
can copy/paste into sequences. This is a personal
and creative process, but having a wave left-to-right
and right-to-left is a great place to start. This is an
optional step, but will make each
song much easier to sequence.
4) For each song, you need to get a
timing grid. You can use the built-in
beat wizard, tapper wizard, and VU
wizard to create timing grids. Even
with the wizards, you will need to
plan substantial time for each song
because moving timings around to
get it just right will take a while.
5) For each song, you need to program
the lights. This is the super fun part.
Here, you decide what each
channel will do, when it turns on,
when it fades, etc. Having the
effects library to pull from (step 3)
will greatly speed up this step.
Normally, when people think about a
light display, they think of the lights and sometimes the
music, but there is another fun element that can be
added: interaction. The Light-O-Rama controllers take a
daughtercard, or you can buy an Input Pup that allows
you to let people interact with your light show.
The Input Pup works off of simple circuits that —
when closed — kick off a specified sequence. This can be
used to rig a big red button that kicks off the show, let
users pick the next song, or (with some creativity) be
used to turn your light show into a video game that
people can play.
December 2014 29
■ FIGURE 6. Notes mapping display elements to
■ FIGURE 5. Planning where everything will go.