4 x 4 Design

Getting into light shows the really easy way

So it’s time to take the big step and animate your light display? Since most people use Light-O-Rama controllers we figured they would have a few tips on how to get started. We talked to John Potochnak and he said they’re now getting serious with simple plug and play solutions. Light-O-Rama is about make available 50 music sequences that should help bring animation to more displays.

The challenge is everyone uses their light channels differently so it’s tough to create sequences that will work over a variety of venues. Luckily the pros have figured out a trick that will make life easier for the rest of us.
Think about old movie marquee signs where a row of border lights appeared to chase each other. If you watched carefully, every forth light came on at the same time. Chasing is nothing more than a pattern of 1, 2, 3, 4. The eye is attracted because it perceives movement. Light controllers love to make their channels chase.

Now start thinking about your venue in groups of four. Four groups of bushes. Four windows. Four columns.

4 x 4 designing example
4 x 4 designing example

Think about each group of channels chasing each other: 1, 2, 3, 4. Then think about groups chasing groups. Now you have natural chasing elements that a creative sequencer can take advantage of and make your venue dance.
The new Light-O-Rama sequences are based on the 4 x 4 concept. It doesn’t matter what’s in a group. Your house might have four segments of a roof outline, four windows, four bushes and four columns. My house might be four bushes on the left, four bushes on the right, four windows upstairs and four windows downstairs. The same sequence will look great on either house since it’s built around four groups of four.

With their emphasis to simplify creating shows, the Light-O-Rama sequences come ready to work with 48 channels (three 16 channel controllers). They slipped me some of the documentation that will be included with the new sequences. Channels 1-16 are meant to be the primary channels and are used constantly. Channels 17-48 are for accent purposes within the music. The trick is you can start small this year with just 16 channels and add on later.

Channels 17-32 use the 4 x 4 concept and for Light-O-Rama demonstrations they use four minitrees, each with four different colors. With channels 33-48 they bent the 4 x 4 rule a bit and used 2 x 8 or two groups of eight meaning eight channel leaping arches. I arranged for the publisher to insert old articles in this PlanetChristmas Magazine edition showing how to build minitrees and leaping arches.

I’m now seeing vendors touting ‘LOR Friendly’ design elements. Be sure to check out a Winterland ad in this edition of the magazine. If you’re not too handy making things, buying everything off-the-shelf is the next best thing.

Four groups of four. 4 x 4. It’s simple concept and removes much of the uncertainty designing your display.


This article was included in the July 2012 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.

By Robin Williams

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