Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Lights Part 1

I finally came to my senses.  Well, actually I needed a break.  After only 2 years of the animated Christmas Light Show, I have successfully burned my self out.  Don't get me wrong, it was fun to see it running and everyone who saw it raved about how cool it was, but man, it was a lot of work.

If any are not familiar with animated Christmas Lights, just google 'animated Christmas lights to music' and you'll see what I'm talking about.  Some are spectacles in themselves.  Behind the scenes, it takes quite a bit of planning and time to put a good show together.

My first year, I started thinking about it in January.  I bought a lot of the equipment on sale in July and at that point had already decided what I was going to do and had begun practicing with a free limited version of the software that runs the show.  Over the summer I built a lot of the pieces and spent countless hours soldering together the controller boxes that would send the signals from the computer to the actual lights.  I bought controller kits and they took about 5 hours each to build.

The rest of the summer and fall was spent programming the music so the lights would turn on and off to the beat of the song.  With each controller (8 of them) having 16 channels, that gave me 128 different things to turn on and off and I had to program each one for each song.  It usually took about an hour to program about 15 seconds of a song.  You get the idea.

I still remember having my littlest one operate the drill as we spun lights onto PVC pipe to make the leaping arches.  She said she had fun, but I could tell she was sick of it after only two.

Set-up started the day after Halloween and the next three weeks I spent every waking hour that I wasn't at work, putting it all together.  I did not exist in my family that year during that time period.  No one saw me the whole buildup to Thanksgiving which was my target date for the show to start.  You can probably figure how that went over with the family.  Obsessed was a term I heard a lot.

Tomorrow part 2.

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