In just a few years it's amazing how the number of music-synchronized, computer-controlled, christmas light displays have exploded! This is both good and bad. While they can bring a lot of joy and happiness, what was novel and interesting is beginning to become ho-hum. There's always the drive to add something new and unusual to try to keep things fresh, like adding animation, video, and rgb features, but it's clear that new and more isn't always better. I am not advocating that we stop all the shows or discourage people from creating new displays, but we need to mature as a "movement" and consider where things are and where they are going.
I understand that it hard to have this discussion without hurting some feelings or making it appear elitist or critical -- beauty is in the eye of the beholder, any attempt at trying should be admired, and the purpose and standards for success are different for everyone. It's tough enough to explain my own purpose and goal for writing this! I'll try.
I love Christmas light displays and started my own before I was 10 years old. Back then a couple strings of lights and a homemade star was enough to draw praise from the whole neighborhood. Affluence, access and technology has meant that 40+ years later it takes soooooooo much more to even get a second look. Sadly, I see that we are hitting a threshold that means "more is better" no longer holds true. A display with thousands of lights, every blow-mold ever created, and multitudes of inflatables can no linger gain more interest and fascination simply by adding more. Our solution, it seems, is computerized displays that flash, blink, and move to music. But even that clearly has its limits. Are 1000 circuits really better than 500? When does the joy and fun become overwhelming and boring? There is no real answer to this but it makes me ponder where all of this will go.
There is a lot of discussion on this and other holiday boards on how difficult things are getting. Adding tons of RGB to displays is making the job of synchronizing more time-consuming and difficult. Very few have the time and skill to really do it properly in the big scale many displays are reaching. I wouldn't say that many light displays "fail" but there are many that clearly could be "better." (Lot's of quotation marks because I know many of these words are relative and loaded.)
I see a need to change the focus from quantity to quality. In the rush to have the largest display or include the newest technology, poor implementation is clearly suffering. Does a display need 10 poorly synchronized songs or 5 really well done ones? Does a display even need to be coordinated to music? We've created a monster and it's tough to see what could be done to tame the monster.
I'd be happy to see more "silent" or non-synchronized displays that are smaller and better put together. A themed display like Disney Christmas or a Gingerbread Forest doesn't have to cover 10 acres to be beautiful. And often people are located in places where it's difficult having vehicles stop or people to stand around long enough to listen to a 10, 15 or 30 minute show. A display that you can pass and admire in a few moments can give great joy. I have seen displays where cars never "stop" but every time you drive by you catch something new flashing or moving and it's interesting all season. There are a couple neighborhoods where everyone puts simple things like candy canes or hundreds of sparkle-balls along a street and it's simple but so beautiful.
This isn't to say there should be no music synched shows or large displays, but the rewards of simplifying or improving those shows rather than just making them bigger would have great benefits to both those setting them up and the viewers. I had a recent display where I had five 10-foot high arches that had only 3 circuits with 1 set of lights per circuit on each arch and it was still impressive. I covered the arches in plastic vent pipe to help diffuse the light. When I see folks putting 12 circuits and winding set after set of lights on their arches I often find it to be overkill and just an awful lot of work.
I have more to say but this message is WAYYY too long already. You get where I am going. Please note that this message is meant to make readers think and share their thoughts. I am not slamming anyone else's opinion. I want to hear what you think. --Doug
Here's one of my "simple" displays: http://youtu.be/eXMXQRPhCgg
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