Happy Holidays from ELEDLIGHTS

Happy Holidays from ELEDLIGHTS

Picture This: It’s the holiday season and you’re driving to your parent’s house for a holiday dinner. Along the drive, you see lots of holiday lights and decorations. However, as you pull into a neighborhood, you see one house in particular that stands out. This house not only has holiday lights, but a light show equipped with music and synced light sequences.

Our IT Director, Loren McDonald, came across an ABC television series, “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” all about these crazy holiday displays. It sparked his interest in creating a holiday light show at his own home. Hear what he had to say about his experience in first creating a light show 5 years ago:

If you’re interested in starting a light show at your own home, here are Loren’s recommended items for how to get started:

LED Lights

If you want to put on a light show, it’s highly recommended to use LED Lights. Using LED Christmas Lights over the old standard incandescent lights allows you to have the brightest light show possible while having incredible energy savings. LEDs have an extremely long life span, so you don’t have to worry about any of them burning out during the holiday season. Because of their innovative RGB design, they can also produce up to thousands of light color combinations, while again using only a fraction of the energy.

Light Show Software

A light show computer software helps you program the songs to match an effect your light show is producing. For example, as the music has a dramatic drum beat, all of your lights may flash at that point. While there are different software options out there, Loren uses and recommends using Vixen. Vixen is a FREE (Merry Christmas) program with a user-friendly interface that allows you to control your light show. Loren’s favorite feature of this program is that it allows a user to upload a photo of his/ her house and overlay a virtual light display overtop. That way, a user can actually see exactly how his/her light show will be displayed while building the sequences out in the program.

The Computer

You will need a computer to run the light show software. Loren, being an IT guy, ran into the issue of his computer being tied up for 4-5 hours a night while his show ran.

IT guy – computer = unhappy IT guy

So, Loren figured out another solution. Instead of running the program off of your personal computer, Loren recommends using a Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi is a mini computer with no screen and no keyboard, just a little mini motherboard. You can plug a USB right into it with the light show on it, and it plays right from there.

Music

Picking the music is the fun part! Your music will set the tone for your light show. Whether it’s a slow, powerful song, or an upbeat, crazy song, the possibilities are endless!

Speaker or FM Transmitter

Once everything is set up, the last thing to decide is how people can fully experience your light show. While Loren sometimes puts out a loud speaker that plays the music along with his show, he also chose an FM Station that passing cars and local houses can tune into to hear the show.

Loren Tip:

Time vs. Details: When first starting out, be cautious about how detailed you’re getting. When working in Vixen, users are able to use pre-made effects or create customizable light effects. If someone new gets too hyperfused on creating an intense new effect, they can often waste hours on one small effect and run out of time to create the overall show. Loren suggests that in your first year, keep things simple and use the time to figure out any flaws you may run into.

Starting a light show can be a fun/ exciting project to take on! As Loren said in the video, there’s a great joy that comes from seeing neighbors and cars stopping to watch your show.

Happy Holidays from the ELEDLIGHTS Team!