How I Do It

For the more technically savvy, my intent here is to give you a better idea of how I actually bring the display to life. The natural history of how the display came to be can be found here.

Each song set to music, which I will call a sequence, starts with day dreaming about how it will look. Once you have decided on a song, the chosen song is uploaded into a computer program, that I have purchased, that is designed to control the lights. There are several companies out there that manufacture both the software and hardware necessary to make this happen. The program I use for sequencing is very user friendly and lays the sequence out on a large grid consisting of an X and Y axis. The uploaded music is put on the X axis and the number of channels on the Y axis. I know, what are channels? This is where the hardware comes into play. The hardware consists of control boxes and the wiring (CAT-5 cable) necessary to allow them to talk to the computer software. Control boxes consist of a circuit board and plugs (channels). The animation sequence, once programmed, tells the circuit board what to do and from there the circuit board will turn on or off plugs coming from the control box. Each of my control boxes consists of 16 plugs which means that each box can control 16 different lighting effects. As more and more control boxes are added to my display each will be daisy chained, or wired in series, to the next. This is done by using CAT-5 cable.

The White Christmas

Ok, now back to the sequencing using the computer software. As I stated, the sequence is laid out on a grid. The song on the X axis is in a time format. I personally break down each second of a song into 20th’s of a second. So again, picturing this laid out in a grid with X axis being time and Y axis being the number of channels we can get the ability to control 67,200 different events for a 3 and ½ minute song for each 16 channels. So for our 2008 display we had a grid consisting of 403,200 different events. This allows for very detail sequencing to the more complex components we hear in a song.

To apply this to what you see in our videos, each 20th of a second box in the sequence tells the control box which plug to turn on and how long to do so. This will in turn, turns on or off a specific strand of lights that has been assigned to a specific channel.

And this my friend is how we make the magic happen. I hope you found this understandable and if you have any further questions or want clarification please contact me and I will get back to you as soon as possible.