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Category: Christmas

How to Create a Holiday Light Show with Aurora

Limbic Media is entering its busiest season yet. Aurora-powered LED installations are going up around the world for the 2018 holiday season and beyond.

Aurora controls LED displays by interpreting sound and mapping that audio data into lighting design. While Aurora handles interpreting and mapping the subtleties of audio data, installers have the power of manipulating lighting design features through the Aurora Mobile App. This article guides you through how to create a holiday light show with Aurora for the 2018 holiday season using the Mobile App.

 

Aurora Singing Tree, Victoria, BC

 

The Aurora Mobile App offers a library of patterns, color palettes, and parameters to give users easy yet sophisticated light show customization. The App currently contains 9 patterns—the foundation of Aurora lighting design. Each pattern uniquely analyzes incoming audio data and maps it into specific lighting behavior. The App also contains 4 parameter sliders to adjust the speed, energy, variance, and decay of patterns. Parameters affect each pattern slightly differently, so we encourage experimenting with different combinations. Aurora also contains 24 color palettes.

Combining the patterns, parameters, and palettes give users thousands of design possibilities with no lighting design expertise required. These possibilities will only grow with continuous pattern, palette, and Mobile App development. Here’s how to create an effective holiday light show.

 

 

Step 1: Calibrate your audio input

To create a light show that intuitively reflects audio input, users must calibrate audio-reactive Aurora installations. Users can calibrate audio input in two ways—with auto gain or manual gain—depending on the audio input type. For example, an outdoor installation that responds to public interaction via microphone should be calibrated differently than an installation with an audio player or professional audio equipment plugged directly into Aurora.

Calibrate Aurora for music

Aurora installations that respond to music plugged directly into Aurora are most effective when calibrated for auto gain. This means that Aurora automatically creates light shows that are consistently responsive, no matter the volume level. If a song goes from extremely loud to very quiet, for example, the lighting design will reflect these dynamics, but not disappear completely.

To enable Auto Gain, ensure that you are connected to an Aurora installation via the Aurora Mobile App. Navigate to Device Settings > Audio Control. Select the appropriate input source, and enable Auto Gain:

 

Aurora Mobile App – Auto-Gain enabled

 

Next, adjust the level of your audio source—this could be the music volume coming from your mobile device or a professional DJ booth. Aim for the loudest sound to turn the audio select status LED (SEL) on the front of your Aurora controller yellow:

 

Aurora Pro Connector Interface – Audio Select Status LED (SEL) Illuminated

 

Calibrate Aurora for audience interaction

Aurora installations often use a USB microphone as audio input. This is popular for public spaces and holiday events, encouraging passers-by to engage with lighting design through their voices, claps, and other interactions.

These open environments used with a microphone tend to vary in audio levels and the frequency or intensity of audience interaction. This is not ideal for auto gain. For example, auto-gain allows Aurora to capture a sudden audio interaction (a clap or a loud voice) effectively—but automatically normalizes to that sound, leaving a follow-up interaction not as noticeable in contrast.

In these situations, you should use manual gain. This gives installers full control over how loud audio must be for Aurora to noticeably react. To enable manual gain, ensure that you are connected to an Aurora installation via the Aurora Mobile App. Navigate to Device Settings > Audio Control. Select the appropriate input source, and disable Auto Gain:

 

Aurora Mobile App – Manual Gain enabled

 

Adjust the Gain Boost slider until Aurora reacts to the desired level of audio input.

 

Step 2: Explore Aurora’s holiday color palettes

The color palettes available in the Aurora Mobile App are developed by Limbic Media’s creative team. The palette gradients are specifically designed to produce aesthetic light shows that look like they were created by a professional lighting designer. Custom color palettes, such as corporate colors for holiday events, can also be created on request—contact Limbic Media for more information.

For textbook holiday red/green shows, installers can choose from two red/green palettes:

 

Christmas color palette

Christmas

 

Red + Green = Yellow

 

There are also cool color palettes that work well for evoking wintery weather:

 

Christmas color palette

Off White

 

Christmas color palette

Winter

 

Christmas color palette

Cool White

 

Christmas color palette

All White

 

Warmer palettes are available for holiday installations aiming for a more traditional holiday look (think golds and blues):

 

Christmas color palette

Warm Yellow

 

Christmas color palette

Crest

 

Christmas color palette

Hot Coals

 

Christmas color palette

Sunrise

 

Christmas color palette

Royal

Step 3: Design a light show

Once you’ve calibrated your audio input and explored color palettes, you’re ready to dive into the fun part—creating light shows. Here’s how to use Show Mode or Live Control Mode in the Aurora Mobile App, as well as customize some holiday-themed patterns.

 

Use Show Mode or Live Control Mode

Users can operate Aurora lighting design in Show Mode or Live Control Mode under Device Control.

Live Control Mode allows you to adjust lighting patterns, palettes, and parameters in real-time in response to audio:

 

Aurora Mobile App

Aurora Mobile App – Live Control Mode

 

Show Mode allows you to create a sequence of predefined lighting pattern, palette, and parameter settings (cues). These cues play in sequence at specified time intervals. This helps add variation to a synchronized sound-to-light show. Ensure that preview is enabled while you’re adjusting cue settings:

 

Aurora Mobile App

Step 1 – Add a new cue


Aurora Mobile App – New Cue Screen. Turn Preview ON!


Step 3 – Show Mode with multiple cues

 

The Aurora Mobile App V1.5 also has a silence-detection feature for Show Mode, which automatically moves to the next cue when silence is detected. This is useful with song playlists, adding further variation between songs or after a musical pause. Enable the Advance Cue on Silence feature under Global Settings > Show Settings:

 

Aurora Mobile App – Advance Cue on Silence Enabled (App V1.5 or higher)


Create Holiday Patterns

Here are a few of our favorite holiday-themed patterns to create in Live Mode or Show Mode. Keep in mind that some of these patterns only work when arranged in a light grid, such as an LED curtain, canopy, or 3D cube. Installations without lights arranged in a grid (Singing Trees, for example) can be custom-mapped to better evoke 2D or 3D effects. Contact Limbic Media for details.


Snowflake

 

Capture subtle audio features through the intricate patterns of a snowflake. This effect is ideal for LED curtains or canopies that are mapped in a grid. Start with Twinkle as your pattern, a medium-high to high speed, medium energy, high variance, and low decay. Experiment with these lighting parameters to create the special snowflake you’re after:

 

Aurora Mobile App – “Snowflake” settings

Twinkling Stars

Create your own Christmas stars with Aurora’s Twinkle pattern. The twinkling star effect looks great with both cool and warm color palettes, as well as installations without lights arranged in a grid, such as Singing Trees.

The Twinkle pattern is based on the same pattern and parameter settings as a Snowflake—except with lowered speed. In the Twinkle pattern, a heightened speed affects the light arrangement of the lighting design, resulting in a snowflake-like shape.

Christmas Ball

Aurora’s Plasma pattern creates a moving Christmas ball or ornament, ideal for grid-mapped installations. Select Plasma as the pattern with low speed, high energy, low variance, and medium-low decay. Increasing the speed will affect the “bounciness” or movement of the ball:

 

Aurora Mobile App – “Christmas Ball” settings

 

These are just a few of the suggested lighting design combinations for holiday-themed installations. We recommend playing around with different palette, pattern, and parameter combinations to reinvent your traditional holiday lighting displays.

Contact Limbic Media for more ideas and lighting design support—we will be releasing the Aurora Pro Manual in the next week for a full description of Aurora patterns and parameter functions.

 

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How to Maximize your Investment in Holiday Lighting

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We talked to Darren Vader, a holiday lighting installation expert, in our last blog to discover the biggest trends and challenges facing the industry today. Darren’s business focuses mainly on commercial lighting installations, retail/wholesale, and cutting-edge technology in the lighting industry.

This week we want to focus more on small-scale residential or small business lighting installations. Residential lighting made $27-billion in revenues for the 2017 season across the United States, and is growing every year. We received feedback from WeHangChristmasLights.com and JVS Christmas Lighting to gain some insight for this article on the residential installation arena.

There is a huge demand for holiday lighting installation services, and the industry is growing beyond just Christmas-themed displays. Quality custom installations from reputable installers are not cheap—but planning the right design offers potential for installations with year-round appeal. Versatile, high-quality installations enhance your home’s aesthetic and can have a significant ROI for small businesses looking to stand out. If you budget for professional holiday lighting installations each year, here’s how to maximize your investment.

 

Holiday lighting

Government Street, Victoria, BC—Derek Resch Photo


Consider lighting installations that aren’t Christmas-specific.

Victoria, BC’s main drag along Government Street is lined with light-adorned trees. Season after season, the lights remain, but the colours change depending on the season; soft white for strolls on warm Summer nights, orange for Halloween, and alternating red and green for the holidays. The lights add an aesthetic appeal to the city’s downtown core and drive foot traffic even after the shops are closed.

Smaller-scale lighting installation customers tend to invest in Christmas-themed projects with an installation life of 2-3 months at most. New trends and technologies in the lighting industry are allowing for more adaptable installations that make better use of your investment.

According to Josh Trees of WeHangChristmasLights.com, Halloween, event, wedding, and other non-Christmas events are some of the largest growing aspects of smaller-scale installation projects. This shows a willingness for customers to think past lighting displays as a traditionally Christmas-focused endeavour and become more integrated into other events or residential décor. The huge commercial market for lighting in non-Christmas events and festivals is trickling down to the smaller-scale installation market. Technologies like RGB and light interactivity is making it possible for these projects to easily evoke different moods depending on the time of year and audience without having to redesign or reinstall the display.

RGB Lighting is one of the fastest-growing segments of the holiday lighting installation industry. RGB lights combine red, green and blue light to create a full range of colour options from a controller, making installations much more versatile. The same RGB light installation you invested in to set mood-lighting for your patio and landscaping in the summer can then be easily controlled to create Christmas or Halloween-themed lighting, for example. This allows you to keep your installation up year-round and reinvent the lighting’s appeal, whether it’s for the patio of a cafe or a private home audience.

 

Hire an installation company and make sure they’re certified.

Thousands of people each year receive treatment for holiday-related decoration injuries. Holiday lighting installations can result in property damage or even injury when done DIY-style or conducted by unqualified installers that are more focused on providing a cheaper service than a quality service. Small-scale residential installers are constantly dealing with installations that need to be set up quickly in harsh weather conditions in the safest way possible and returning client properties to their initial state.

According to Josh Trees, the biggest challenge facing the industry today is unqualified installers that are dropping their prices at the expense of installation quality and safety. By investing in a highly qualified, certified installer, you not only get a quality design and hassle-free service, but also benefit the industry as a whole.

If you are investing money into a lighting installation, hire a company that is certified by CLIPA (Christmas Light Installation Pros Association). CLIPA installers have been trained and tested on installation techniques and are certified to ensure that:

  • Lights are removed on time
  • Maintenance issues are troubleshooted and resolved quickly
  • Installations are configured and power-routed properly
  • Safety is a top priority and all necessary tools and equipment are provided
  • Quality installations are designed effectively with ideas and consulting provided
  • There is no property damage left after the installation
  • Their company is properly insured for lighting installations
  • Installation designs are of high-quality for all of the following::
    • Commercial and residential rooflines
    • Trees, bushes, landscapes
    • Sidewalk and driveway perimeters
    • Windows, doors, archways and dormers
    • Pillars, fences and gates
    • Wreaths, sprays and garlands

 

Wehangchristmaslights.com Photo

 

Budget and plan for your installation far in advance.

Most smaller-scale lighting installers deal with short lead-times before the winter holiday season, which means installations can be rushed with shorter daylight times, bad weather and tight deadlines. Adaptable RGB installations that look as good for Summer events as they do for Christmas beat rush times and spread your investment out over a longer period.

Planning versatile installs in advance also provides installers with revenue in the off-season, and gives them time to invest in a quality custom design. Installers are well aware of industry trends and new lighting technology, especially early in the season, so if your goal is to be the Joneses, your property will be trend-setting in your area.

 

Pay attention to what commercial lighting installers and companies are doing.

If you want to stay ahead of the game with your holiday lighting installations, look to the bigger commercial installers—the companies tackling festivals and public spaces—for industry trends. The commercial lighting industry almost always informs trends happening in residential and small-scale holiday lighting businesses. For 2018, RGB LEDs, interactivity, synchronized sound-to-light, and multisensory installations are trending.

Observing lighting installation trends in commercial spaces is the best way to set trends and be cutting-edge for residential and small-scale installations. If you’re a small business, staying on top of these trends is a good way to maximize your investment in lighting installations, set your business apart from the others, drive traffic to your business and increase your ROI.

 

 

Holidays are increasingly commercialized each year, which means the demand for holiday lighting is growing and installation planning and execution is happening earlier each season. The industry is seeing growth in RGB lighting, and most installers now also design non-winter holidays and event lighting. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your home’s architecture or landscaping, but also stand out in your neighbourhood for seasonal holidays and events, invest in a professionally-installed, controllable RGB display. Lighting technologies and certified installers are making it easier to maximize your investment and still look great for any season.

 

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