Learning how to sequence the lights to music in your display can be a daunting experience. It takes a lot of time, patience, a knack for using your computer and a good ear for music. Chances are if you dance like a rock, you’ll have a difficult time starting from scratch but that doesn’t mean all is lost.
The newest versions of the Light-O-Rama S2 sequencing software have put some very powerful tools in the hands of every sequencer out there, including the newbie. Now it just becomes your task to quickly figure out how to best use all of these features to the very best of their potential for your own display. Unfortunately, with new tools also comes the challenge of figuring out how to use them. There seems to never be enough time to learn the new stuff (especially this time of year) so let me share some shortcuts. There are three new features that work hand-in-hand to create some of the best effects that you’ll ever need when creating the perfect sequence.
Repeat and Chase
Most of the effects within the Light-O-Rama timing grid are chases of some nature, whether it’s across a row of mini-trees, over your leaping arches or even in circles around your mega-spiral tree. Chases are the cornerstone for most of the great displays you see every year. Now by using the new Repeat and Chase features you can implement these in a fraction of the time.
First select the starting point in your grid and setup the nature of each light effect. This may be a simple pop-fade from 100% to 0% or a gradual fade up and fade back down.
Next “select” this area plus an empty timing cell or two beyond it to the right. The more empty cells you include the slower the chase will be. Make sure the Chase tool is selected and once you have this area highlighted, click the “+” key on your keyboard the number of times needed to fill the range for the chase.
Doing a basic arch leap is now simple. Click and drag down from the top left to the bottom right until you reach the ending point for the leaps and you’re done.
A mega-tree isn’t quite so easy. Add a new timing mark to the grid. If you previously included two empty timing cells then move over to the third cell past the end of the first channel row and add a timing mark close to the end of the cell as shown.
After this new timing mark is in place, click and drag from the top left effect down to the bottom right stopping at the new timing mark. Now simply click the “H” key and the software does the rest. The reason for that extra timing mark is to avoid overlap and maintain an even spin around the tree.
Another new feature is one called Fill and it automatically fills in the gaps between two existing effects. This was something that could be done previously with the background feature, but it was cumbersome as you had to make certain the places you were working in had well defined start and stop timing marks. Using the Fill command can be a bit tricky at firs
t and it’s easy to make a mistake. I highly recommend not trying to highlight an area and using the hot key when using the Fill effect. Fill is intuitive and will fade up or down as appropriate to create a smooth effect, including twinkles and shimmers but be careful in the beginning until you fully understand all it does.
With these new features available in the S2 editor, this brought about the recent side toolbar that you can pick effects from. If you were constantly changing the intensities and fade settings as you sequenced, this sidebar will become your new best friend. You can now have at your fingertips any of the last 12 effects used. This is especially useful for switching between fade up and fade down at different levels such that you’ll almost never have to pull down the fade or intensities settings once you get more than a few seconds into a sequence.
Putting it all together
By using all of these features plus the ones that have been around a while you can build a great sequence by layering effects to create more dimension within your display. Start with a basic item like a chase across your mini-trees in time with the beat of the song which occurs four times. Next create a single chase at the end which will run at about a third of the last beat and will seem to chase down the last fade down effect. Finally use the background tool to fill in all those gaps with a low intensity setting that remains on during the sequence so that you end up with something that might resemble this…
Christmas is just a few months away so it’s time to get to work. Use some of these tricks, save time and turn on those lights!
This article was included in the September 2010 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.
By Philip Pyle