2023 Behind the Scenes

So what does it take to create a show like this? Good question. First off, lots of patience. All the props (snowflakes, trees, candy canes, etc) had to have all the light bulbs (pixels) pushed into place. Most of this work has been done over the last few years. This year, the only prop that got changed was the “mega tree”. It was redone to go from 800 pixels spaced 2″ apart, to 1600 pixels spaced 1″ apart. “Pushing Pixels” takes time and often results in sore fingers for a while…

The 2023 show contains:

  • 1 Mega Tree (1600 pixels)
  • 4 singing bulbs (572 pixels)
  • 5 candy canes (495 pixels)
  • 4 “fans” (1340 pixels)
  • 13 snowflakes (624 pixels)
  • Spinner (85 pixels)
  • 8 Spotlights (8 pixels)
  • Icicle lights (600 pixels)
  • Matrix (600 pixels)
  • Mini trees (450 pixels)
  • Presents (170 pixels)
  • Verticle strip lights (183 pixels)
  • Strip lights around garage door (188 pixels)
  • P5 Panel (12288 pixels)
  • Additional lights on the porch pillar and landscaping (600 pixels)
  • Press Button for Music button and speakers (0 pixels)

To run the show, it takes 3 primary controlers that all the pixels are connected to. To drive the P5 panel, it takes a Raspberry PI. The entire show is then run by a second Raspberry PI.

Both Raspberry PIs are running Falcon Pi Player (FPP) software. One is the primary and controls all that is happening. It also tells the 2nd Raspberry PI, running as a remote, what to do.

To program the show, I use the xLights software. This is an open source software package designed for creating light shows. Over the years the software has greatly improved where it can even push the configuration out to the controllers, and upload all the sequences to the Raspberry PIs.

As for the sequences (songs), I will usually take the current years “xLights Around the World” project’s starter files (again they are providing 2 sequences, one Christmas, one not). Many in the xLights community will also share seqences they have done for others to use. I’ve also created my own sequences that are part of the show. Each sequence does take a bit of time to create and refine, even when using sequences from others. It can take as little as an hour to review, import, refine a shared sequences, to many days to create one entirely from scratch. But it is all a labor of love and creativity.

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