Behind the Scenes
I tried to provide a basic overview of how the display works below. There is much more that go into each of the steps and systems below. On that note, if you would like any more technical info, statistics, suppliers, tips, tricks, how to, or any help at all - please contact me! I love sharing what I do and how I do it with everyone and am always willing to provide advise to those interested in starting up their own display!
It all starts with a model of the house. Every light is precisely lined up to its real location in the display. This is done in a software package from a company called Light-O-Rama. Each prop or RGB pixel is assigned it's own unique channel.
Each channel or group of channels is programmed with unique effects timed precisely to the audio soundtrack. This process can take several hours for just a few seconds of the song depending on the desired effect.
Each channel corresponds to a plug on one of these dimmer cards. As of 2021, I have 22 AC dimming cards installed throughout the display. They all connect to the show computer through standard ethernet cables. I built several enclosures to house all of these boards and a board to control the color-changing smart pixels.
The lights are all put up in their places and hung on the house. Several thousand electrical zip ties are used to secure the lights to removable tubing on the house. Everything is wired up and connected together by over 800 electrical connectors! There are over 300 power cords in the show that would stretch over two miles lined up end to end! This process took me well over 150 hours between classes and work in 2021!
The show is powered up each night and run by the rack on the right. This also mixes and routes the audio to the FM transmitter and amplifiers. This also works as a home automation system for interior audio and lighting. All of the voice lines are stored and controlled by this system. All of this can conveniently be controlled from my phone from anywhere in the world!
Once everything is all setup, its as simple as flipping a switch and the show is ready to go! Every aspect of the show is completely automated to startup, run, shutdown, and maintain itself - even monitoring and fixing problems caused by the rain!