Year of the Pixel

Any light, any color, any time.  Imagine the possibilities for your Christmas display!

PlanetChristmas has been watching this technology closely for years.  It’s been bloody cutting edge, geeky and expensive.  You needed to be part electrical engineer, sequencing guru and a glutton for punishment but the results were spectacular.

Light-O-Rama got us excited with the introduction of their Cosmic Color Ribbon several years ago.  This five meter ribbon of light (a little over 16 feet) was broken into 50 sections known as pixels and each pixel could be programmed to be any color at any time.  The challenge was each pixel needed three control channels (one for red, green and blue) to determine the final color we would see.  50 pixels means 150 control channels.  Now pixel trees have become popular.  Think 12 vertical Cosmic Color Ribbons, skinny at the top,  wide at the bottom and resembling a Christmas tree.  Do the math and that’s 1800 control channels to sequence.  Luckily a sequencing program called SuperStar came to the rescue but it still helps to be a geek to pull everything together.

Here’s a good example of a Cosmic Color Ribbon tree.  This tree is 16+ feet tall and each vertical ribbon is 50 pixels (about 10 pixels per meter):

Now check out this pixel tree.  It’s about 7 feet tall and each vertical ribbon is 60 pixels (about 30 pixels per meter).  The takeaway is the ‘pixels per meter’ is getting denser.

Search for over-the-top Christmas displays on you tube and chances are you’ll see some of these amazing pixel trees.

What’s coming?  Think higher resolution.  It’s now common to see light ribbons with 30-60 pixels per meter but we’re starting to see ribbons with 144 pixels per meter.  Wow!

Last year (2013) pixel based Christmas displays started shifting from bloody cutting edge technology to cutting edge technology.  The PlanetChristmas staff got together and has declared 2014: the year of the pixel.

What does all this mean to you?  It’s time to consider adding pixel technology to your Christmas display.

At first you’ll be stymied by the costs (think $0.50 to $$7.00 per pixel) but keep telling yourself any light, any color, any time.  Instead of a string of lights just being on or off, now every light bulb of that string is under your full control.  It takes a while to wrap your head around the possibilities.  You no longer think of needing a gazillion lights to dazzle the crowds.  Now you think about what patterns you can put on those pixels deployed in your display.

Where do you begin?  The next edition of PlanetChristmas Magazine is themed: 2014: the year of the pixel.  Experts from the Christmas pixel industry are writing how-to articles to help you take the step into this exciting new world.

If you can’t wait for the magazine, check out the various Christmas forums to get a feel for pixel technology but a word to the wise: it will be intimidating.  Start small, master the fundamentals and build upon your knowledge.  It will be so worth it.

2014: the year of the pixel

Show More

Related Articles