In the first article on building your own computerized holiday light show, we discussed the specialized light controller and PC. In this article, we’ll talk about the technological glue that holds those devices together – the software. You will need two software tools (a sequencer and a scheduler) to create your display.
At a basic level, a holiday light show is just a sequence of instructions sent to a light controller that synchronizes your light display to your music. There are a number of good free/paid software suites available that include a sequence creation tool. For this year’s show, I am using the sequencer included in the LightShow Pro software suite.
Sequencer software makes the task of creating a show easier. It does this by showing a visual display of the music that helps you create slices of time within the show that you essentially “paint” with various lighting effects using the different light setups in your display.
Making your lights turn on, off, shimmer or flash at just the right moments in your show can take a few hours of work, even for a 5 minute sequence. For those who don’t have the time to craft elaborate shows on their own, there are collections of pre-made sequences available through groups that share their creations. (Professional sites that provide light show equipment also make sequences available.)
Once you have your collection of sequences and music, you’ll want to setup a playlist to entertain your holiday guests. Scheduler software allows you to arrange your work on a calendar and repeat shows as often as you wish.
Many scheduler tools will allow you to setup more advanced options, such as having the current sequence selection automatically posted to a Twitter account. (Some even upload webcam footage of the current show to social media or the Web!)
Remote Desktop Software
If your software is properly setup, you shouldn’t need to access the PC while the show is running. As a Geek Squad Agent, I like to be able to troubleshoot issues with the show without having to drag a monitor, keyboard and mouse to the outdoor box housing my controller and PC.
I use the Remote Desktop Connection tools built into Microsoft Windows to connect to the network via my home PC. I have also installed a software tool that works with the Splashtop app that is available for both iOS and Android. I like having full access to view and control the PC using my tablet from anywhere that has access to the Internet. (This explains why my neighbors sometimes see me standing in front of my house at night working my tablet and watching my show.)
Agent Derek has been removing techno-stress from the lives of his Geek Squad clients since 2005. When not providing remote help as an Online Support Agent, he likes to take to the road on a vintage motorcycle for adventures through Ohio country highways.