Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas time is here!

Ever since I saw someone post a video of Christmas lights animated to music, I thought "I want to do that!" That was probably 5 years ago and every Christmas I think about it but never take the plunge. My friends know that I'm the type of person to go overboard in just about everything I set my mind to doing. So having an excuse to load up my house with as many Christmas lights as I can, and sequence them all to popular holiday songs is right up my alley.

This summer I decided to order the hardware to start off with a modest 32 channel light display. I also put in a large order of bulk wire and Christmas lights. My first order of lights looked something like this:

50 strands of white lights
50 strands of green lights
50 strands of red lights
250ft bulk spool of C7 wire with empty sockets
300 roof clips
150 white C7 bulbs
100 green C7 bulbs
100 red C7 bulbs
1000 ft bulk SPT-2 lamp cord
36 male/female ZIP plugs

I came to find out pretty quickly that this would be nowhere near the number of lights that I would need so I started hitting Home Depot, Lowes and Wal-Mart as soon as their lights were out. In the case of some stores, this was weeks before Thanksgiving and I got some really strange looks and odd comments as I checked out with Christmas lights so early in the year. I could only think to myself, "hey, if you're going to put them out for sale, don't you expect people to buy them?"

Over the next few weeks I purchased 10's of thousands of more lights. The bulk of the lights make up the four large trees in my front yard. I also created 8 mini-trees that each have about 300 lights on them. The roof is lined with 3 channels of C7 lights as well as about 2000 icicle lights. The star of the display (literally) is a 4' x 8' star that I created out of plywood and 2x4's. It holds about 200 C9 lights split up into 3 different channels. The design of this star was inspired by someone else on the internet and it was so amazing that I decided to create one just like it. The star now sits on the roof of my house weighted down by 150 lbs of sandbags.

I really procrastinated on sequencing the music and didn't start on it till a few days before my display was set to go live. Fortunately I had some practice sequencing lights for a friend's Halloween party so I was already familiar with the software. I was able to get two songs done before Thanksgiving; Christmas Canon Rock and Wizards in Winter, both by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Friday night, the day after Thanksgiving, I powered up the light show and everything worked flawlessly. It was really cool seeing all that hard work pay off and the comments I've gotten from friends and neighbors have been really positive.

I've been working on more songs a little each night and now have two more added to the show; Let It Snow by Michael Buble and the theme from Christmas Vacation. I hope to add 2-4 more songs in the next couple of weeks.

So, if you find yourself in the San Diego area, drive by 452 Highland Place in Escondido and check out the show! You can tune your car radio to 93.5 to hear the music or step outside and hear it from the sidewalk. If you can't make it by, pull up my channel on YouTube and take a look at some of the videos I've posted. More videos will come as I add new songs.

My YouTube Channel
(Be sure to subscribe if you want notifications when more songs are posted)

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!


Barx Atthemoon, Warden of Tunare said...

That's pretty awesome. I really like the TSO displays, especially Wizard in Winter, which is one of my favorites from them.

Wish I lived on the other coast so I could see it in person.

Noelle Mallory said...

Looks like fun! Is the display synchronized to spatial audio?

Unknown said...

Greg - RE: Christmas Vacation - please tell me that doesn't blurt out of many speakers at 3am!! (Great job by the way!)

Armus said...

hey Greg, the lights look great. I'd love to know how you did it. I'm a EE and have been planning my own display. BTW, I'm a former eq2 players (met your wife in Atlanta con. I was the annoying drunk guy :) ) so haven't checked out your blog in a while.