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Guest csx5861

Please enlighten me as to why Synchronizing Music to a display takes so long

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Guest csx5861

Just as the title asks, why does it take folks so long to synchronize the music they are going to use in their displays? I keep reading and seeing 2 hours for 1 minute of music, now maybe it's just me, but that seems awfully EXCESSIVE just to get your lights to synch with a music file. I just can't see sitting for hundreds of hours synching music that I think should be more of a plug and play type deal.

Surely there HAS to be a quicker way to do this and still put on a decent show with your decor?

I create projects with musical backgrounds and if it took me 2 hours for every minute of music, I'd NEVER get anything done!

Surely you folks aren't serious are you? Now really, 2 hours = 1 mimute of light display action? Sorry, but that just seems too extreme and too excessive for my liking.

When I am finally able to go LOR, which I am seriosuly hoping that will happen in 2010, I don't need or want to be spending hours and hours just setting up musical files to work with my decor. My decor goes up quickly and I want to be able to have any type of light show display done just as quickly. (no more than synching up 3-6 songs in a week or less).

I'd truly destest having to spend 200+ hours on a 10+ minute song, although most are a lot shorter than that time frame, but I do have some that are close to that, especially some of my creepy, eerie Halloween music I would use with sound effects.

So if it really takes that long just to synch up the music with the lights, then maybe I need to rethink and NOT go with any computerized system like LOR, and stay with my old reliable, but limited 4 channel wireless Mr. Christmas canned music system.

Since we have HOA rules that govern when and times we can start putting out decorations, this is yet, another reason anything I do needs to be basically a plug and play system, but I do and would want to use my own music files, not buy pre-made that would not work for my display set-up!

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I would suggest that you go ahead and download the demo version of the LOR software and see what you think about it.

http://www.lightorama.com/SoftwareDownloadPage.html <-- Download

http://store.lightorama.com/software1.html <- Version information.

Most people don't do their sequencing in November/December. They come up with a design for their display, and start programming sometimes as early as Spring.

How long does it really take? As with any software package, there is going to be a learning curve associated with it. You'll find that as you sequence more music, you'll become quicker at it. While the number of channels will affect how long it will take you to sequence, also consider the complexity of the effects that you want in your show. The more effects you have going, the longer it is going to take to program them.

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Well I also use Mr. Christmas, I am looking into Light O Rama just as you are. I have no idea how long it actually takes to write sequences, but if you want to be able to vizualize what you are doing while you are sequencing, I have heard of people building scale models of their display and watching it that way. If you had a long line of bushes that you wanted to have green lights on as a single channel, you could set a strand of green lights on the floor near your computer and hook it up to your controller. I did this when I first found my Mr. Christmas controller in September a few years ago and couldn't wait to start controlling lights.

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It really does take a lot of time!

Even with new enhancements such as LOR's beat wizard and the wave form, it's still tedious. Different types of music also take different amounts of time. For example, TSO songs tend to be easier to sequence than most. The beats are very defined, as one can see from the wave form. Other softer, more flowing music is harder, in some cases, to detect beats. In some cases, I first find the beats; using a few channels to get them distinct enough for widespread usage. Then, I find elements that work well with the number of beats.

I spend time figuring out how to flow the lights together. I try to use "new" effects, for example, going backwards on my house layout. I try new things with the mega tree, mini trees, etc. It gets really boring to see the same stuff [effects] over and over, and I don't like to copy and paste for that reason. I do in some cases, as in Wizards in Winter, but I vary different elements.

Figuring out fade lengths and how you want to turn off the lights you just turned on takes some planning! Of course, you could turn every thing on and just fade off, but that gets boring! I think you personally can determine how much time you want to spend on programming -- depending on how much design and creativity you put into it.

You can sort of tell how much time people spend programming by the quality and look of the display. It's up to you how you want your lights to look, and it's not a magic button that programs it all!

Edited by lkcubsrule

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Why do people spend hundreds of hours fixing up old cars? why do people spend hundreds of hours landscaping their yards? why do people spend hundred of hours taking thousands of pictures? My wife spends hundred of hours doing cross stitching one blanket.

We do it because we like doing it, we like the end result, I love seeing all my hard work and creativity lite up the eyes of a young child. It makes all the hours of work worth it. If you really dont think spending a lot of hours sequencing, like said above, there are options for buying sequencing or there are a few people here that you can pay to sequence your display for you.

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Just as the title asks, why does it take folks so long to synchronize the music they are going to use in their displays? I keep reading and seeing 2 hours for 1 minute of music, now maybe it's just me, but that seems awfully EXCESSIVE just to get your lights to synch with a music file. I just can't see sitting for hundreds of hours synching music that I think should be more of a plug and play type deal.

Surely there HAS to be a quicker way to do this and still put on a decent show with your decor?

I create projects with musical backgrounds and if it took me 2 hours for every minute of music, I'd NEVER get anything done!

Surely you folks aren't serious are you? Now really, 2 hours = 1 mimute of light display action? Sorry, but that just seems too extreme and too excessive for my liking.

When I am finally able to go LOR, which I am seriosuly hoping that will happen in 2010, I don't need or want to be spending hours and hours just setting up musical files to work with my decor. My decor goes up quickly and I want to be able to have any type of light show display done just as quickly. (no more than synching up 3-6 songs in a week or less).

I'd truly destest having to spend 200+ hours on a 10+ minute song, although most are a lot shorter than that time frame, but I do have some that are close to that, especially some of my creepy, eerie Halloween music I would use with sound effects.

So if it really takes that long just to synch up the music with the lights, then maybe I need to rethink and NOT go with any computerized system like LOR, and stay with my old reliable, but limited 4 channel wireless Mr. Christmas canned music system.

Since we have HOA rules that govern when and times we can start putting out decorations, this is yet, another reason anything I do needs to be basically a plug and play system, but I do and would want to use my own music files, not buy pre-made that would not work for my display set-up!

I have spent up to 6 or 7 hours on a single minute of music. If it is a very upbeat song with a lot of very well defined beats. And its not all the actual computer work. coffee breaks, deciding what you are going to do, and seeing what other people did with it is figured in with it as well. If I sat down and really cranked it out I could do it in an hour or 2 for a minute. It is time consuming but I have a lot of fun with it and it is stress relieving for me so it is well worth it.

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There are sections of Barenaked Ladies "Jingle Bells" which are 3-4 seconds long, and I spent an hour or so on each of them, simply because they're very fast runs of notes and I wanted the tree line to be as synched as possible.

(You can see them in the video here: http://www.wiltonlights.com/videos/ "Jingle Bells – Barenaked Ladies", watch the tree line on the left at 1:23 and 1:52)

Then there are other songs with steady beats which I can hammer out 2 minute sequences for in about 45 minutes.

How long it takes depends on:

1. How picky you are about precise synchronization

2. How many items you have in your display

3. If you're using a fixed grid canvas vs a "find the beat and subdivide for 1/4, 1/8 1/16 (etc) notes" (which I find to be a LOT faster and easier to get more precise)

I've seen sequences I know were thrown together in less than an hour.

I've seen sequences I know were done with a fixed grid by someone who didn't notice (or perhaps didn't care) that it was out of sync after they copy and pasted the same bit of repeated commands a few times.

I've also seen sequences where it's clear someone took the time to make sure everything was spot on.

Sometimes a good case of OCD produces some GREAT animations. ;)

Yes it takes hours. Yes, it's worth it (to me at least)

Edited by RiscIt

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Guest csx5861

Thanks for all the comments folks. I do have the latest LOR demo software, I actually downloaded it several years ago orginally, but never really did much with it. I downloaded the latest version this year, just after Halloween and have been playing with it off and on.

I was just asking the questions to know *exactly* what I may be getting myself into with LOR when I can finally buy at least a starter system to ween myself on.

I fully understand the complexity of the piece (music) does determine the length of time required to get this just right. My wife will tell you I try to be a perfectionist on anything I put together, so it looks like I may be doing time when it comes to synch'ing up music. I'm actually hoping to purchase at the minimum a 16 channel system (I'd prefer 32, but may not be able to go that this time around) by mid-January so I can at least start playing around with it and possibly do something for Halloween in 2010.

Now I have noticed when playing with the demo, that when I thought the whole song was sequenced, come to find out I only had 1/4 of it done, so I just thought I'd ask if their may have been an easier way, like plug and play to do it. Looks like that isn't the way to go or not the way to go if I want the display to run the way I want it too.

Thanks again for all the comments, it helps me to really know and see what I am getting myself into before making that plunge.

Too often folks buy something thinking it may be easier than they thought because they didn't ask questions or research the item, like my teachers when I was back in high school always said, "There are NO dumb or stupid questions" and now that I know, guess I'll be learning a new skill come about mid-January 2010 if all goes well.

Thanks again,

Clay

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It takes me way longer than that but I do have 112 channels and I used to do .05 timings but this summer I started using the beat wizard and sub dividing by 8 to make it easier to do my 8 channel arches and megatree spins and still only got to 4 new Halloween songs and 3 Christmas songs. A lot of my time gets wasted on trying something new and then looking at it in the visualizer and not liking it and having to redo it or experiment with different things to see what I like best. I always try to do something different so it isn't "Same Effects Different Song".

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I would be nice if there was a "Make Kick Butt Sequence" button but in reality programming is an art and there are so many ways to interpret a song and how different elements are set up in the display that it takes some serious thought.

Also the more channels the longer it takes. I am sure I could bang out a 16 channel sequence pretty fast but when you start having 200+ channels it consumes a lot of time.

I can only handle sitting down for 4 hours or so at time programming so it is something you have to spread out and the earlier you start, the more sane it will be.

I usually spend 6-10 hours working on a song.

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Yes, it is true. It takes a long time to do each song/sequence, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Of course the more channels you add, the longer it takes. If you really like hanging lights and decorating your yard, this is how to take it to the next level. No doubt LOR is an awesome product, and it is for the Holiday Extremist!! It leaves any "out of the box, plug and play" stuff in the dust!! Just remember that there are plenty of forums right here on Planet Christmas of good people ready to help!!

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I would be nice if there was a "Make Kick Butt Sequence"

That would be awesome! It would definately save us all a lot of time :giggle:

I echo what the others have said here. My first sequence took about 15 hours to put together. As time has gone on I've gotten better at it (I've been sequencing for just over a year). You'll find some short cuts as you become more familiar with the software and you find your "Style" of lighting. It now takes me about 8 -10 hours to put a new sequence together.

You really need to sit down with the software and program one song to get the full picture of what you're getting yourself into. Choose a short song to start out with, I definately don't recommend starting with your 10 minute sequences you mentioned, you may become discouraged and give up entirely.

If you are really interested in saving time, you can go to lorsequences.com and download a sequence that someone else has made and then customize if for your display. This could save you a few hours if the sequencer is advanced, however, still be prepared to spend several hours making the adjustments.

Something else to consider is your diplay set up time. I spent hours figuring out how to balance the electricity load across my controllers. My first display was for the 4th of July and it had 64 channels. Setting up the lights and plugging them all in took me about 8 hours. Then of course there was the pre-set up time. If you want to create display elements such as arches you need to factor in the amount of time it will take you to wrap the lights. For my 4th display, I had poles that had 1600 mini lights on each, and they took me about 3 hours each to put together.

And finally, don't forget that your work is never done. As you add more channels to your displays or new elements, there will be re-working of your sequences and each year you'll be replacing lights and etc.

Bottom line is....this hobby will takes hours and hours of your time...it's not for the faint of heart.

Good luck!

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LOL :giggle:

Richard wrote:"I would be nice if there was a "Make Kick Butt Sequence" button "

I have one!!!:P

kick button.jpg

I pushed it and nothing happened!

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Sequences can be done in a couple of hours. But with this, you will not get "the look" many are coming to expect from a sequence.

If you want a plug-n-play look, then you can program a sequence in a couple of hours.

I did two this year in under two hours (it was more or less, lights toggling on/off opposite each other for vocals, rhythm, instruments) because I did not want to spend tons of time programming. But on a few others, I did spend the hundred hours.

So to answer your question - it can be done. But the more time you spend with a sequence, the more detail you can insert to add that special "wow" that will dazzle your viewers.

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some say more channels are tougher to work with.. I beg to differ.. the more channels the easier it is to sequence.. yes more channels makes a mess of the screen.. however when you only have 16 or 32 channels its all to easy to just have a bunch of lights blinking to a beat rather than a real show...

with gobs of channels you can better create a show.. an art piece.. plus its also not as noticeable if you miss a beat or a chase is just a tad bit off when you have lots of channels....

the other thing is the music makes a big difference.. I pretty much have the song visualized in my mind before I start to sequence it... so then I run the sequence, watch the visualizer and then tweak it out.. and then add effects to it if the song looks to dark.. or pull them out if it looks to bright, etc....

one of the main things I think with animation is getting set down what type of display you want... do you want to create flowing color changes, or lots of movement, or many items that spin or bounce or go back N forth.. ie wireframes, mini trees, mega trees, poles, wheels, fans, and anything else that creates movement...

a lot of sequencing is a huge learning curve.. im still well into that learning curve. but once you start getting techniques down and what looks good on your display then you can even copy and paste from one sequence to another for say a mega tree spin or an arch jump etc....

like another user does I get the beat track down, either by tapping ,beat wizard, both then I divide the beats up into 1/2, then 2x,4x,8x,16x(sometimes).. and then I go to town and get a skeleton layed down and watch it through.. most all the time I have to adjust a timing here or there because either me or the wizard missed a beat timing..

then I keep adding to it and modifying.. until i get something that looks good on the visualizer.. and once the display is installed I make a few adjustments too.. in fact almost always I adjust songs during the season....

-Christopher

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We have almost 500 channels and the only easy thing I have found is to barrow ideas from Richard.

I watched the video and I learned a few things. Thanks for the button. :giggle:

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Guest Lightzilla

I use shared sequences as well as make my own, but sometimes the songs I use are more words than beat and so I sequence to words, beats, etc.

That can be time consuming. My display is simple, 2 mini mega trees with 2 colours 16 channels per colour, 16 mini trees 2 colours and 16 channels per colour, 1-16 channel arch, and 4-8 channel arches, and 16 channels 3 colours to run a mount.Ash tree, bushes, perimeter fence etc.

That is 160 channels (176 when you add the neighbours house) that never happened so that frees up a controller for next year.

I can cut and past one mini mega tree into the other but I get the trees to spin differently so as to have a dueling contest between trees.

So for me 176 channels can be easier that less channels. My display is symmetric and that helps.

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I find its a lot of back and forth for me...program a short section and then look at it...tweek the programming, look at it..it does get easier with time and the speed of the song makes a difference..sometimes I have to listen to a segment several times before I start to program it..then I try something- its sucks so I have to clean up what Ive done and start over..Im faster than my hubby at programming- but he's much more anal than I am..I like more channels, more variety and the best part of all???

Is when all, the neighbors park out front like a drive-in theatre and tell you how amazing your light show is..then all the hours you've programmed doesnt really seem to be a big deal!

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I really think there is a definate learning curve (esp. at first) to learning the software ... and then its up to how much of a perfectionist you are, how much artistry you bring to the table and how much OCD you apply to perfecting it all.

Its kind of like creating music parts for a band. If you want, sure, you could come up with just say 4 parts and have every item follow just one of those 4 parts. Buts thats not very artistic and wouldn't work well if you gave every member of a full orchestra just one of 4 parts.

I did just do a sequence on dualing banjos and most of the sequences I found (already created) had like 8 parts for each "banjo" ... and it was easy to paste that around and get a decent seqeunce out of it. I was atonished that parts of the song just basically put everything on "twinkle" ... and was effective for those portions of the song, but I've never seen this much in other sequences ... but when trying to imitate two banjos going nuts at high speed ... the twinkle worked, even though it was simple.

So then it comes down to ... do you want a unique part per display item? Some do ... and then if you want to nail down the timings and apply fades and effects to things or have some color changing and/or pattern to your madness (like left to right fading) ... its all complicated somewhat in coming up with these individual parts ... and how accurate you want them all to be?

So I think the answer is -- sure, there may be programs to auto-generate some sequences for you ... but they will never compare to the ones people spends hours on ... because its too artistic of a process to automate very good, unless you could somehow inject a lot of AI about your display and how you want to it operate ... into that engine, beforehand.

I looked at the detailed parts in RiskIt' sequence ... and I can totally see why it took as long as it did ... because he was nailing down those parts and being very creative with it at the same time ... and these is not shortcut to doing that, just shortcuts to make the process easier by using keyboard shortcuts in the software and knowing how to navigate quickly and efficiently in LOR.

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Guest csx5861

Well I try to be as creative as I can and I do know that creativity takes not only time, but some imagination as well and I've always been told I have a very creative and "over-active" imagination,:giggle:

It looks like I'll be pursuing for my first purchase a 16 channel LOR, mainly because I want to also get the USB booster upgrade, 100' cat5 cable and the MP3 LOR Director upgrade, as well as the Full House Transmitter to start out with. I know it'll grow over time, if I could have afforded the 32 channel, I'd have preferred to start with that.

But I think I can still come up with a fairly decent display with the above starter kit. Just got to wait a couple weeks to have all the funds to pay for it, then it's off to the LOR site to order. I was going to try and wait for their sale, but I know my (or my wife) will have the money spent if I don't do it when I have it available to buy.

Be glad when I can do the actual order and then play around with it when it gets here to learn what I can and can't do with a LOR system.

So looks like my wife is going to complain even more about me spending even MORE time on the computer to get sequences done for my display and I'm already planning 2010's Halloween display for my first real display run. I won't be sequencing 10 minutes songs, what I will be using will be some of Midnight Syndicates music from all their CD's I own and most of their music is instrumental and between 1 to 3 minutes long. I'm hoping that these creepy music renditions will help me to get a feel for how this all will piece together and hopefully flow smoothly along.

I'm sure I'm going to have a few hic-cups along the way, that is usually always inevitable when learning something new and this will be all very new to me, but I'm actually looking forward to it!

All the wonderful folks here have definitely inspired me to persavere and press on with going forward with it!

So yes, you may expect to see a few questions from me once I get the system into my hot little hands to start sequencing for my halloween display and then Christmas of course.

Thanks again, I'm convinced that LOR is definitely the way I want to go!

Clay

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Not to throw a wet blanket on LOR, but there are other options when it comes to the software you use to sequence. LOR makes great HW, and many folks like the LOR software as well.

Note that there are two other fairly well recommended programs. Vixen, which is free for the download, and has plug-ins for lots of different hardware options is one. LightShow Pro (LSP) costs about as much as LOR S2 and supports a much wider range of hardware, but not quite as much as Vixen.

You can download a demo copy of LSP for free as well.

Note that there are other hardware options, too.

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Just as the title asks, why does it take folks so long to synchronize the music they are going to use in their displays? I keep reading and seeing 2 hours for 1 minute of music, now maybe it's just me, but that seems awfully EXCESSIVE just to get your lights to synch with a music file. I just can't see sitting for hundreds of hours synching music that I think should be more of a plug and play type deal.

Surely there HAS to be a quicker way to do this and still put on a decent show with your decor?!

There is a Mr Christmas that does your lights automated to an MP3 player. The problem is you cant do automated with more then like 8 to 10 circuits. If you choose to have choreography, in that each song makes your display and yard appear to be completely differnet from each other and you want details like leeping light arches to go at certain moments rather then just constantly flickering to the beat, then you are going to have to choreograph it as is done now. For many of us, it took as long to do our early songs per minute of song when we had our first 16 channels as it does now with hundreds of channels. At first we were learning how and not that good at it, later you still take 2 hours per minute of song when experienced but now dealing with many many more circuits at a time. It all depends on what you want, just a flashy few channels on the house or do you want choreographed movements and more of a "show". In any case options are available for you which ever direction you choose to go in. As well as preprogrammed shows provided by LOR and AL for purchase.

One interesting thing is, shows custom made for a display (like do it yourself) fit your exact set up better then a generic show programmed for ANY display like the purchase shows. So ones you do yourself to play best to YOUR features will ultimately look WAAAAY better then anything automated or generic. This being realized, this is why people make a hobby out of programming their own sequences themselves, its worth it with way improved quality and pride of having done it yourself.

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