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  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.


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Everything posted by sielbear

  1. The O Holy Night is by Becoming the Archetype? I probably listen to music for 20 hours each spring to find about 20-30 potential songs. I put a lot into finding music that appeals to a wide range of people. I probably don't always nail it perfectly, however, I do make it a point to talk to lots of visitors. This is probably the first year where I've received compliments equally from young and old. I run an after hours show with very slow selections. The lights BARELY fade just to give them "life". I use Jessie Kol's Away in a manger and Mannheim's stille nacht. I saw all my neighbors kept theirs lights on till 3-4 AM, so I do the same with my after hours show. I'm always surprised who comes by to watch the after hours show. I've seen cops on patrol stop briefly, families who get out of their car and sit quietly on the sidewalk in front of the house, and other random visitors. It seems like the mix this year reaches all audiences, whether Christmas has any spiritual meaning to them or not. For me, I think that's part of the challenge I enjoy each year- reaching the unreachable. Thank you for the compliments! (null)
  2. Been a while since I've been as active on this forum as I'd like. It's been a wild year trying to prepare for the show this year. I've posted videos in the past, so I thought I'd pass along this year's show vids. The quality isn't perfect as the RGB nodes are just so bright it's hard to capture accurate color information without a fixed aperture camera. At the time, I don't have that available to me. http://www.liptonlights.com/Pages/2012Videos.aspx Hope you all are off to a wonderful lighting season!!
  3. Too funny! I had the same problem this year. I snagged a security cam pic of the car and wrote a blog post about it. I made it humorous (I think) and just rolled with it.
  4. I have another post in the synchronized displays where I have more detail. You had asked about it looking like a movie in the windows. I created all of my sequences this year based on custom videos I created for the show. If you imagine the visualizer as the tv screen, if you were to play a video on top of where your lights were drawn, you could automate the intensity and color of your display elements based on where they appear in the visualizer. Every element in the display this year was automated in this fashion with the exception on some songs where I manually animated the snowflakes, Bethlehem star, and megatree star.
  5. For the windows, that is a project that evolved over the last 3 years. Initially I started by measuring my windows and making custom pegboard panels that fit tightly inside every window. I made 15 of these panels. To that, I glued in several hundred (red, green, and clear lights) lights in every pegboard. The holes in pegboard was just the right size for mini lights. This year, I added a lot of pixelnet nodes to the show. The pixelnet allows individual control of each individual bulb. I can mix color and brightness. To make the windows (and I'll be posting pictures soon), I took some rectangular nodes and glued them to the pegboard where they were centered in each pane of glass. Lastly, I removed all of the mini lights (so painful after all the work to glue them in!!!!) and I put a white shower curtain against the windows. Do you hear what I hear? Was done by Anthem Lights on "The Essential Christmas Collection." I was passing out candy canes and one of the guests said, "Nice music selection... I like the Do You Hear What I Hear!" I said, "Yeah, I think that's my favorite this year. It's by Anthem Lights." He said, "Yeah... They are on my record label. You used Barlow Girl last year. she's on my label too." I said, "Hmmm... I'm hoping it's a good sign you didn't give me a hard time for it last year?" "No worries. You aren't making money off this display and your collecting money for charity. Can you imagine the bad press we'd get for giving you a hard time!" Oh Come Emmanuel is by August Burns Red. Fair warning, I sliced and diced it to be the length I wanted. I cut out some of the really heavy metal parts as it was a little harder than some of my audience would like... I think it has 8-10 cut points in it...
  6. This is a really great sequence. You really complimented the beauty of the music with the lights. "From night to day" and the lights changed from red to green... Really wonderfully done!
  7. Look what's required to secure mega trees in the lawn before getting too far along on the roof idea. Also look at what's required to secure a Holdman star to the roof. I don't want to unnecessarily scare you from doing it, but many members have had mega trees go down in strong winds. I now use 48" rebar driven approximately 38" in the ground. I also use a 72" fence post stake to keep the center post from moving. Lastly, the emt conduit must be staked in a few places to keep the lights straight / tensione at the base. Also consider that if a mega tree blows off a roof as opposed to falling down, the mega tree may no longer pose a cleanup challenge for you... It may be in your neighbor's living room! I see some unique challenges with securing a mega tree to a roof. I'm sure you'll get some good ideas from this group. Just keep the challenges in perspective. Short of penetrating your roof, I'm at a loss for really securing this beast. I'll be following this thread closely!
  8. My first year I added a couple of circuits to the garage. My second year I increased to 24 circuits- 8 20 amp and 16 15 amp. For the 15 amp addition, I added two mobile sub panels. The sub panels use 50 amp 220v range plugs to feed the circuit boxes. 1. If / when I move, the new owners will definitely worry about Frankenstein bodies roaming the property. "Who needs this much power in their garage?!?" 2. I'm embarrassed to admit that we converted all major appliances to gas. Now, they were over due for replacement, but we're gas for heat, hot water heater, oven and stove, and dryer. As led lights increases in use, the days of adding such craziness to run a display will end soon... It's like a right of passage is being removed as a requirement to run 100,000 lights...
  9. I've gone uber low tech. 18" rebar in the ground. Zip tie through the security hole on the size of the LOR box to the rebar. If I had a real security issue I'd do more, but so far, I've not had any issues. This also helps ensure the box stays closed during the season - with some of the rain we've received this year, it's worked well. I do pay a little more attention to the boxes further from the house. For the boxes right next to the house, I didn't even use rebar this year. I just propped them up against the house behind the shrubs. If they come wandering in the yard far enough to get the boxes, 1.) My dogs WILL let me know and 2.) I'll have their face on camera from MULTIPLE sides... Again, if I had reason to suspect people wanted to take the controller boxes, I'd put more time and energy into securing them. I guess some big HIGH VOLTAGE signs on the boxes might also help secure them. Along with the Babe Ruth idea... Side note - years ago, I witnessed a hilarous event when someone played a prank on some friends. Was at a hotel resort - one of those lazy river things that people just float in. He unwrapped the Baby Ruth candy bar and set it adrift towards his friends. Talk about JUMPING out of a pool! I'm not sure I've ever laughed that hard in my life!
  10. That really is an impressive display of pixel nodes / control. I'm curious what they used to playback the show... With my 4166 nodes, I push a little over 1 Mb per second. Compressed HD is what? Between 3-6 Mb? That's like streaming HD in pixel data. Very, very impressive indeed. I really liked the "snow" at the end... Just amazing!
  11. Jason- For the stepped fades you're seeing, it looks like you're seeing the stair stepped issue when using DMX on your LOR boxes, but not when using LOR native protocol on your LOR boxes - am I correct? We aren't talking about the E680 / E681 controllers with the issue, correct? I wonder if what you're seeing is the actual "digital" stair step of the 8-bit output in DMX. I'm supposing that the LOR protocol may have a smoothing process occurring in the output stage of the controller? When operating in DMX mode, I bet that's not possible, so you're actually seeing DMX values changing, for instance, between 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, etc. over a slow fade. If that is the case, you'd get the results you're describing - no change with faster refresh rates, and worse performance with slower refresh rates. I've noticed the same thing driving a couple of LED strands using DMX on the LOR boxes this year. I also see it in the pixel nodes I'm running as well using the smart string controllers, etc. It's not "bad", but I'd love to get smoother fades on the LED lights at the lower end of the brightness scale, but some larger changes on the higher end of the brightness scale.
  12. Very cool suggestion for the Abyss, and a very safe suggestion. I'd be tempted to go the Abyss route or the "bridge look" by putting up rails on each side of the street, perhaps with a sign or something related to the bridge crossing. I'd be worried about any number of things happening with a temporary item in the road. Cars starting and stopping, turning the steering wheels, and driving too fast are things outside of your control. With relatively little movement from the protective item, you can quickly wear the insulation off of the lights - if metal is used as the bridge crossing, you've got the potential for some really bad outcomes. I am a huge supporter of pushing the envelope with display effects, etc., however, there are times when the decisions of others should be considered. Perhaps others chose not to forge ahead because it was too risky. not because they've never throught of it. I'd personally err on the side of pushing the envelope in a more controlled setting, like your yard. Certainly you can't keep a child from running across your display and getting hurt, however, reasonable efforts are made from a safety standpoint to minimize if not eliminate the danger posed from the freak occurence. you KNOW cars will drive across the street (and across the protective device), and unless you're using materials specifically engineered for such abuse, you're not taking the same precautions you are in your own yard. I think it's a really risky endeavor you're taking on. Not just from a monetary standpoint, but seriously - how awful would it be to have something like that happen. Read the posts about fender benders happening in the street outside of some of these displays. The owners of the displays feel bad when that happens, and they are pretty far removed from monetary liability in those scenarios. (I had an accident outside my house a couple of nights ago - no injuries - driver just wasn't paying attention and backed into a limo. I hate it happened, but I know I've not altered the road, traffic signals, lighting, etc. in place in the neighborhood.) Eh - my advice is worth what you paid for it! Merry Christmas whichever choice you make!
  13. I've got a similarly sized show to dave in terms of pixels, but I'm using 2,250 - 2,800 timing marks per song. LSP died when trying to export those files to LOR. Ultimately I chopped my show up into 30 second clips, exported to LOR (which created 200 MB files of 30 seconds of sequence), did some script processing on them, converted to xlights format, and combined everything back together. It's painful, but it's doable. I will be posting a complete workflow for how I did it this year. Unless the software improves dramatically in 2012, I'll be using the same workflow for next year!
  14. I have around 5,000 channels running this year, and like Aussiephil, I had a real challenge getting the show to do what I wanted. While I had 5,000 channels, I also had anywhere from 2,250 to 2,800 timing marks at 5,000 channels per song. Ultimately I had to break my show up into 30 second chunks, process the heck out of it with external scripts, and play it back with xlights. My 30 second LOR files were 200 MB in size each and my entire show in LOR format was 9.4 GB, not counting wav files. That was only 32 minutes of show when subtracting repeated songs. The end result has been amazing, but it was a STEEP learning curve. Now that I have some work arounds in place, the question will be 1.) what size pieces will I need to use for next year and 2.) what improvements will be done on the software side to facilitate the use of higher and higher channel counts. The hardware is just so far ahead of conventional sequencing software that there are some serious challenges when going beyond a couple of thousand channels / timing marks. Luckily there are some amazing members of the lighting community who have been extremely helpful in overcoming these challenges.
  15. I had a pretty funny experience last night - it's not the first time it's happened, but it's the first time I really got a good laugh out of it. I was handing out candy canes - it was relatively calm at the time, perhaps 8:45 at night. I was going from vehicle to vehicle talking with the guests and answering any questions they might have. I've got myself into a habit now of looking to see how many candy canes I have left in my basket as I approach the next car. I had run out a couple of days ealier and one poor kid didn't get a candy cane! Ah! (Luckily I had a backup supply of peppermints - not a candy cane, but the sadness went away!) I had made it to all of the cars in the turnaround, cleaned out the donation box as it was getting full, and made one last loop to pick up a couple of cars I didn't remember seeing when I first made the rounds. I got to the last car and I just couldn't make out where the driver was... nor the passenger... I knew the car couldn't have been there for very long, plus the engine was still running... I could just barely make out through the tinted windows some extra curricular activities going on! I can't let something like that go, so I had to blog about it. I did change the posting time and day as I don't know the background of my visitors, nor do I wish to cause undue stress or strain for someone caught up in the moment. At the same time... come on! At any moment 20 cars could pull in! Here's my write-up about it on the blog for anyone who's interested... (It's the second post as of today - click read comments to see the entire post, complete with intentionally fuzzy / poor quality security camera shot...) At the very least, I was entertained! http://liptonlights.com/Blog.aspx (BTW, FINALLY got the node control working on the show. I do not have new videos posted yet, but I'm now officially running 5,000 channels of control and I couldn't be happier with the results!)
  16. I used a 128 node set of lights for my 20' arches. I basically wrapped them with about 1.5 inches spacing and slid a white vinyl dryer vent over the arches. I'm fairly pleased with how they turned out.
  17. Paul- Can you give me some additional information on the RGB LED M6 strings? I assume these would use DMX and are running 12V through the RGB controller? They look fairly durable. I'm already doing the math of what it would cost to convert the rest of my display to all RGB LED...
  18. I was wondering if they were related. I was just really confused as to what may be happening since initially, I had absolutely no problems with these LED strands. I'll play with the dummy load and see what I can determine. Thanks!!
  19. I went with a Q-See system last year, and I'm pretty happy with it. No, it's far from perfect, but for the money as well as the ease of use, I'm very satisfied. I got an 8 channel dvr model that came with 4 cameras. This year I added 2 additional, nicer cameras to the system. Once nice thing about the QSee connectors is that the system uses BNC connectors for every camera. This means you can go to www.monoprice.com and snag some much nicer, fancier cameras if you want a little better quality system. Sure, you're limited to the recording resolution, etc., but feeding a nice, high-quality signal to the DVR is the first step. Eventually I'll replace all the cameras with nicer, fancier versions, but for now, I can check on the display from anywhere in the world. I can also pull up the camera system on my iPad / iPhone when I'm on the go. This really gives me some additional flexibility when I'm not at home during this busy time of year. At any time, I can easily pull up the camera application and verify things are as they should be. If something is messed up, I can login to the show PC and restart the scheduler or whatever else might be needed.
  20. I swapped my Bethlehem star this year for a wire frame version. I also replaced the incandescent lights with LED lights. The cost was nearly identical (purchased from Lowes if it matters). Aside from my RGB LEDs, these are the ONLY LEDs in my display. I noticed when I came home last night, I had a VERY noticeable flicker when the LEDs were dimming on my star. It also seemed to be slightly worse on some sets than others (7 sets used for the star). The differences between sets was minimal however, and a casual observer would probably say the strands flickered at the same time, rate, etc. for each channel they were on. (I have 3 channels for my star, it's basically a modified holdman star). These LEDs worked perfectly since Thanksgiving night. It was only last night they started acting up. We've had periods of pretty heavy rain, but none last night. I connected a three-way pigtail at the base of the LOR controller and connected a set of minis to see if that would have any impact. I *think* it may have smoothed out the flicker a touch, but I'm not really certain. I also noticed that one of my snowflakes running off this same controller stopped working last night too. I will plug in the snowflake to a regular outlet tonight and determine if I've got a sick channel or if the snowflake bit it. I really cannot get to the roof at this time due to all fo the stuff in the yard. I'll just destroy my many cables with the heavy lift. Should I have put the mini lights in series with the LEDs? Any idea why I'd be getting flicker on dimming, but NOT at full brightness?
  21. I had similar thoughts when I first got started. I started 4 years ago with 32 channels and 20,000 lights. I couldn't imagine having more than 64 channels at that time. I then made the mistake of watching Holdman’s display videos, and it was all over but they buying. The second year I jumped to 176 LOR channels and 80,000 lights. Last year I went to 240 LOR channels and 90,000 lights. This year I added RGB and am around 5,000 channels, but reduced my light count to roughly 65,000. My first year I used a LOT of SPT-2 wire. I bought 9000’ on spools from Skycraft Surplus. I actually used enough that for the cost of the wire, I could have purchased more controllers and spent less on SPT-2. I’d have had extra channels not had loooooooooooong runs of SPT-2. The LOR controllers work fine outside. Put your controllers where you need them – spend less on copper and more on controllers. Buy LOR controllers during the sales as others have mentioned. I bought all but my first 2 on sale. Buy SPT-2 at surplus stores. If I had it to do over again, I’d use mostly SPT-1. It’s rated for 7 amps, and most channels aren’t anywhere near that capacity. RGB adds cost and complexity. If the cost of controllers is daunting, then RGB won’t be friendlier. The node strands used by many here can be as high as $75 for 128 nodes. As much as I’d love to convert all my lights to RGB nodes, I can’t afford it. If you’re ok trading time and support for lower prices, you could look at some of the lynx products at diylightanimation.com. I only have experience with the smart string controllers and hubs, so I do NOT have personal experience with the lynx express / traditional AC dimmer boards they offer. I AM very happy with the SSCs and Hubs, and hence my recommendation to look over there. Just remember that with LOR products, you get support, stability, and time back. You’ll have to decide how much value each of these holds to you. Good, Cheap, Easy. Pick 2.
  22. I second the 50-amp, 220 volt range plug. I run 8 15 amp circuit subpanels on each 50 amp range plug and I'm as happy as can be. Also, LEDs will dramatically change the power consumption. Last year I peaked in current needs - I would peak around 140 amps @ 220V. This year I'm way down as I converted C9s to RGB strands. Don't get me wrong, the lights still flicker in the house, but with everything I've converted to RGB, I'm probably peaking at maybe 100 amps this year. I would limit the number of songs. This is my fourth year - I always start with 15 - 19 songs that I fall in love with, then I trim back to perhaps 8. I run 3 - 4 voiceovers, shuffled between each song. I also will sometimes have a primary list of songs and a secondary - for a couple of years I would have 10 songs total, 4 songs that would play twice as often as the others. It might be something like: A1 Neighbors Voiceover A2 Donation Voiceover B1 Humor Voiceover B2 Neighbors Voiceover A1 Donation Voiceover A2 Humor / Sponsor Voiceover B3 Donations Voiceover B4 Neighbor Voiceover This helps move cars through - they hear A1 repeat again and move along, but still gives you variety. In my opinion, there are only so many Christmas songs I truly fall in love with each year and think, "I've GOTTA do that song!" When I have a surplus year like this one, hang on to that one for next year. No bonus points for quantity! My wife is instrumental in reminding me of this each year... "You don't need to do 15 songs, honey. Do you really want someone sitting outside our home for an hour? Christmas Eve is busy enough..." Wife 1, Husband 0.
  23. To my knowledge, none of the software designed or developed for Christmas shows really provides this functionality. Generally speaking, you're wanting to do something like a color organ. I am aware of a product called Madrix that provides output based on audio spectrum analysis that may fit your needs. Madrix is primarily used in clubs and DJ venues, and the price is not exactly cheap. If you're not doing RGB, you can probably get away with the $500 package, but if you're doing any RGB, your channel counts will almost require you to step up to the $1,500 level.
  24. Here are a few of my 2011 videos. I posted earlier about how I created this display with Light Show Pro and by creating a video as the basis of the display. I then had LSP automate my video to the lights. It's a different look - some of the display I love and some of it I'm luke warm on. Hopefully you enjoy! There are several more videos at http://liptonlights.com/2011Vids.aspx if anyone is interested. Hope you enjoy them!
  25. Like the others here, I try to be home for at least a brief moment each night while the show is running. I've got one controller that started acting up on me this year and one section of Red and one section of Green on my megatree would stay ON constantly. Probably a bad triac. I could have swapped controllers, but I've not been home on a Saturday to do it this year. I ended up just plugging those channels into the next section over and let 'er rip! No one can tell... I did add a Q-See camera system last year, and I'm using SuperCam Pro on my iPad and iPhone. I can now login and verify the display is running well, see how many cars are outside, and make sure nothing odd is happening over night. Between that and LogMeIn on the show computer, I can generally keep an eye on things while I'm away.
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