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Pumpkin King

Are You "mickey Mousing" Your Sequences?

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"Mickey Mousing" is where the music almost completely works to mimic the animated motions of the characters (or, in the light show world, the sequences) . "Mickey Mousing" may use music to "reinforce an action by mimicking its rhythm exactly."1   This is actually the opposite when sequencing light shows, where the lights mimic the music exactly.  "Mickey Mousing" is also used to criticize that a visual action is – without good reason – being duplicated in accompanying music or text, therefore being a weakness of the production rather than a strength.1

 

I've seen LOTS of GREAT sequencing that interprets the song and portrays the emotion and feeling of it wonderfully!  I've also seen a bunch of sequences that suffer from "Mickey Mousing".  Fortunately, the GOOD sequencing FAR outweighs the bad.

So, the question is....are YOU "Mickey Mousing" your sequences?


Sources: 1. Newlin, Dika (1977). "Music for the Flickering Image- American Film Scores", Music Educators Journal, Vol. 64, No. 1. (Sep., 1977), pp. 24-35.pdf

AND
Thomas, Bob (1994
). "Walt Disney, An American Original", pp. 8-9.
 

Edited by Pumpkin King

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I have several Mickey Mouse items in mine, a Mickey driveway arch, Dancing Mickey, Mickey cutout, Mickey images on my Pixel tree, does that count? :P

 

Some folks have a better flare for sequencing than others (I know mine could be better a lot of times), but al least we are trying.

IMO as long as you like how they come out who cares if it's "Mickey Mousing', most folks that wacth our shows don't know the difference anyway.

 

Now if you want real Mickey Mousing try using SuperStar on your non pixel strands. talk about not finding a beat.

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Not sure that I would agree with the assertion that having the lights mimic the music is a bad thing. I think there are certain songs that lend themselves to that while others are best when trying to interpret or set a mood. IMHO, a good sequencer would employ both, depending on what works best with the particular song they are sequencing. But then, I guess there are "snobs" in every group.

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I looked at your videos, it seems you have very little lights to work with, I just find this a strange post, It's like your trying to tell others that they are doing things wrong. I might be interpreting your message wrong.

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I agree this is a weird post! Like Faiclb said depends on the song. I have Linus and Lucy in my show. the 10 candy canes I have are sequenced to the piano during some of the song. Is this mimicking, sure is. I guess maybe I am a Mouseketeer! I get a lot of compliments on my show.

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I kind of understand where this was going, sort of, but the more lights/channels you have, the less mimicking it seems. All in all it comes down to personal preference. For me, I have never seen a "bad" display. Love 'em all. Besides, even in contests and judging, it's all opinions. I guarantee any visitors that see any of the displays leave happy! All that matters in the end is if you are happy with your hard work! But, this is all just my opinion.....lol!

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I've read this thread over a few times, and I do think it makes a fair point. I've seen a lot of shows that, while visually impressive, don't necessarily convey the meaning of or emotional weight of a particular song. If your sequences would work just as well in a club as on a mega-tree, you might be crossing the line implied in the original post. There's a lot of very beat-heavy music being used in shows that could indicate that the music is being selected to fit the lighting equipment (as opposed to the lighting equipment being tailored to the music). The "Mickey Mouse" label is a bit derogative, but I think the underlying point is a fair one. This is one of the main reasons I'm hesitant to move from a static display to a sequenced show (aside from the cost and the eye-rolls from the better half). I think it would very difficult for me to build a set of controllers, sequence 120-some-odd channels to 25 minutes of music and still produce a meaningful product. I suspect that I would end up with maybe two or three good tracks, and the rest would be boring and repetitive.

 

I'm certainly not criticizing the efforts of the many people who do put on sequenced shows. I understand the amount of time, money and effort it takes to build a display, sequence the music, maintain your equipment, etc. I believe the point of the original post was to direct attention to the possibility that it may be easy for sequencing to take a lowered priority in the myriad of things required to manage a display, and that it could be detrimental to the overall quality of the show.

Edited by CameronInGA

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Actually most of the displays I see have a singing tree, or pumpkin, or Santa & so words need to be used. Also, it depends on how well you get each word down as timing marks. You can get the words bang on if you take some extra time. Then you can get say the mini trees to sway to the words too. If a person has 7 to whatever amount of mini trees then you can make them sway from side to side just like you can with any of the parts music. " Take the song Holly Jolly Christmas.  "Have A Holly Jolly Christmas"...sway right...."It's The Best Time Of The Year"....sway left. In some if not most cases you would never know it was being done to words because the music blends in too. Even in your own sequences where the mini trees were sequenced to music also went along with the words. Look beginning at the 14 sec mark of the "Hippo Song".  The words & music went together.....single words & group words. So on knowingly you did the same thing. In fact, you unwillingly did that in other sequences too. If you made the fades left & right a bit longer then it would be right on the words/notes the singer carried. A sequencer should be able to do every part of a song.

 

I read & see what your saying but if you use songs with words in them, then you will somewhere along the line sequence words/music together.

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I've read this thread over a few times, and I do think it makes a fair point. I've seen a lot of shows that, while visually impressive, don't necessarily convey the meaning of or emotional weight of a particular song. If your sequences would work just as well in a club as on a mega-tree, you might be crossing the line implied in the original post. There's a lot of very beat-heavy music being used in shows that could indicate that the music is being selected to fit the lighting equipment (as opposed to the lighting equipment being tailored to the music). The "Mickey Mouse" label is a bit derogative, but I think the underlying point is a fair one. This is one of the main reasons I'm hesitant to move from a static display to a sequenced show (aside from the cost and the eye-rolls from the better half). I think it would very difficult for me to build a set of controllers, sequence 120-some-odd channels to 25 minutes of music and still produce a meaningful product. I suspect that I would end up with maybe two or three good tracks, and the rest would be boring and repetitive.

 

I'm certainly not criticizing the efforts of the many people who do put on sequenced shows. I understand the amount of time, money and effort it takes to build a display, sequence the music, maintain your equipment, etc. I believe the point of the original post was to direct attention to the possibility that it may be easy for sequencing to take a lowered priority in the myriad of things required to manage a display, and that it could be detrimental to the overall quality of the show.

 

 

Had the OP posted like this.... I would have responded completely different. But I didn't read it that way, it sounded more like he is suggesting that making the lights beat in time with the music is "Mickey Mouse", or lower quality. I do a little of that at times, depending on the song, and it is more difficult than "capturing the feeling" of the music... IMHO.

 

I agree with what you are saying however, I do worry about being repetitive. I imagine the first year with LOR will probably have some of that. As time goes on, you keep the good ones and modify the ones that are lower quality, eventually building up songs/sequences to a point that all are unique. So far I have developed 3 sequences for next year and working on a fourth, all are very different from the others. My plan is to run a song on the quarter hour with an "intermission sequence" between to cut down on the number of sequences I need to have. 

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I would contend that different tracks call for different styles of sequencing.  Each one of us has a different style, because we will all hear and interpret each track differently.

 

There are those who have a knack for capturing the feeling of a track in light - for example, look at some of Holdman's work.  With 48 channels and 19 elements in my display, I could only dream to capture that in the same way.  However, I am not limited by my display as much as I'm limited by my vision of controlling it, so I choose specific tracks that cater to my abilities, which does lead to lights mimicing the beat and movement of the music occassionally.  The comments I receive on my sequences would lead me to believe that it's all in the eye of the beholder.

 

Do I worry about "Mickey Mouse"-ing it or being repetetive and predictable?  Absolutely!  But as I change my show each year I get better at it, and if I were to let that dissuade me from trying then I might as well put a wreath on the door and call it good.

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I would contend that different tracks call for different styles of sequencing.  Each one of us has a different style, because we will all hear and interpret each track differently.

 

There are those who have a knack for capturing the feeling of a track in light - for example, look at some of Holdman's work.  With 48 channels and 19 elements in my display, I could only dream to capture that in the same way.  However, I am not limited by my display as much as I'm limited by my vision of controlling it, so I choose specific tracks that cater to my abilities, which does lead to lights mimicing the beat and movement of the music occassionally.  The comments I receive on my sequences would lead me to believe that it's all in the eye of the beholder.

 

Do I worry about "Mickey Mouse"-ing it or being repetetive and predictable?  Absolutely!  But as I change my show each year I get better at it, and if I were to let that dissuade me from trying then I might as well put a wreath on the door and call it good.

I think generally the fewer the channels the more likely the chance for repetitiveness. It is not bad sequencing, it's just the lack of resources to be able to customize each song those resources- channels, come in time over the years in most cases. I have songs I have used for years that I am continually tweaking and refining and they look so different today than when they were first introduced in a 64 channel show why, not necessarily that I was bad at it back then, but because now I have the channels. It takes channels to change the mood or to convey subtle nuances, and that is the key to avoiding repetition and establishing uniqueness.

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I can't weigh in to much on this because my lights aren't animated YET! Planning on animated shows starting next year. I'm personally not planning on doing lighting for the inaugural ball. I want my show to appeal to the eyes of children. Children like Mickey Mouse type things because they are simple and whimsical. 99% of kids could care less for mood expression, They want the lights to flash and talk to them. Yes I get it make a show that will make the adults want to come see it, But also make sure you make it so once there the kids keep them there because their totally amazed. But what do I know?

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Um I might be, r u ?

LOL! I def am! And proud of it! Otherwise I am the "lights on the farm" when they charge you  $10 to drive though and you listen to music and see a bunch of lights that randomly twinkle....

But the people that like my show know this. If they want the touchy feely old time Christmas Songs, go to the house down the road. If they want the new wave/age/techno/rave/debstup christmas mixes crazy 25 foot Big Ben Clock Tower that will give them seizures, come here! I get may 5-10 cars a night. Fine with me, my kids help me pick the music and they def have daddy's tastes (which kills my wife, lol). Nothing worse than sequencing a song you do not like.......

 

Whatever my sequencing style is, if I did not enjoy it, I would find another hobby.

Happy new year!

 

My new Micky Mouse Sequence for New Year's! LOL!!

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If it's ok, I would like to throw my two cents in because it's a little different than what I've been reading.

 

When I read the OP, my understanding of "Mickey Mousing" was matching the music to the lights, not the other way around.

For example, in the original Mickey Mouse animation (Steamboat Willie), the animators found sounds that matched what the animations that were drawn.

 

I don't think many of us do that in our industry. If anything, we create songs or mixes and then match the lights to the music.

Considering the workflow of LOR, I think it would be mighty difficult to create an animation and then match music to IT.

 

OP, am I reading your post correctly? Mickey Mousing is "Syncing Music to Lights" not "Lights to Music?"

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Well, this was a pretty old thread, and the OP has not been back to clarify. I suppose it serves the purpose to get people thinking about how they create their sequencing, although it seems to have the side-effect of creating at least some slight polarization in the responses. I basically took it to mean "which is the first priority in you show setup? your lighting/devices, or your soundtrack?" I suspect that most display owners build their lighting devices (arches, mega trees, light towers, etc) first and then chose tracks to sequence, as opposed to determining a soundtrack and then building their lighting scheme around a sequence.

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Ah I see the issue.

 

I guess my brain is kind-of polar. I think of lighting fixtures as dancers. I know what music I like and I know which dancers I like, so I try to match them up.

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