Ready to make those lights dance to the music. Think about sequencing.

Ready to make those lights dance to the music.  Think about sequencing.

So… you just bought all that fancy hardware to flash the lights to the music?

or…

You have a talent for sequencing lights to music and want to help others?

PlanetChristmas gets swamped in November and December with people that know they don’t have the time or desire to write their own sequences.  They’re looking for others with the  talent and in most cases willing to pay for it.

The bad news is creating sequences to flash the lights to the music is very labor intensive and there’s not enough time in a day for the people that do it well to share their talents with others.  There really needs to be a better way.

The hardware vendors (Light-O-Rama) do have some off-the-shelf sequences available for purchase.  That’s the best place to start.

PlanetChristmas also sponsors a “Sequencing Store” called UltraShows where people can share their sequences.  Many are free while others charge a small fee to cover their basic expenses.  This might be an option for you if you’re good at writing sequences or looking to change your show without grinding through creating your own sequences.

Light Sequences and Sound Tracks are Independent

Sequences are nothing more than a series of precisely timed commands.  The Christmas light shows you see have sequences precisely timed to specific pieces of music or sound tracks.  It’s important to remember the sequences are independent of the music.

PlanetChristmas makes light sequences available but we have nothing to do with the sound tracks or music.  We leave it to the music industry to create and support the very talented artists making the tunes we all tap our feet to. You must buy the sound tracks/music on your own so you have an official license to hear the music.  The person writing the light sequence will recommend exactly where to buy the sound track/music.  The good news is the music is typically less than $2 at most sources on the Internet and can be easily downloaded.

Sequencing and Channel Mapping Standards

The biggest challenge is creating sequences so they work at your venue as well as others.  For years it’s been the wild west with the pioneers of over-the-top decorators and computer based shows but times are changing.

Light-O-Rama has taken the lead on trying to bring some order to the sequencing chaos.  PlanetChristmas suggest you follow what they are doing.  See their recommendation on the Light-O-Rama website.

Really big displays will require custom sequencing.  There’s no way of getting around this challenge but the majority of us don’t have really big displays.

Most displays use 64 channels or less of light controllers. Below is an excerpt of the Light-O-Rama standards we use at PlanetChristmas.

 

    Controller Address Channel Group Descriptions General
Decimal Hex Channels 1-4 5-8 9-12 13-16 Description
1 01 1-16 Group A Group B Group C Group D Generic 4 channel groups
(windows, bushes, columns, etc.)
2 02 17-32 Group E Group F Group G Group H Generic 4 channel groups
(windows, bushes, columns, etc.)
3 03 33-48 Group I Group J Group K Group L Generic 4 channel groups
(windows, bushes, columns, etc.)
4 04 49-64 Group M Group N Generic 8 channel groups
(yard/roof chasers, etc.)
5 05 65-80 Group O Group P Generic 8 channel groups
(yard/roof chasers, etc.)
6 06 81-96 ABCD EFGH IJKL MNOP Generic 16 channel groups
(single channel mini-trees, etc)
7 07 96-112 ABCD EFGH IJKL MNOP Generic 16 channel groups
(single channel mini-trees, etc)
8 08 113-128 ABCD EFGH IJKL MNOP Generic 16 channel groups
(single channel mini-trees, etc)

 

Don’t panic as you try and decipher the above chart.  Light effects tend to happen in groups of four and it doesn’t matter if it’s four bushes in a line or four different windows on your house.  Look carefully and you’ll figure out the off-the-shelf sequences from the vendors follow the chart above.  Just give things a little time to settle in and you’ll have that “aha” moment!

Now what?

If you’re looking for sequences

As you layout your display, stick to the standards above and you’ll be ready.

If you’re looking to create sequences

Simply follow the chart above.  We recommend you have several version of your sequences available, make them free or charge what the market will bear (you keep all the proceeds minus 10% PlanetChristmas keeps for processing credit cards, etc.)  Get creative and remember Christmas isn’t the only time of year for sequences.

Still confused?

Got a question?  We thought you might.  Give us a shout!

 

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