Just a few things I think about before programming the lights and how I approach the programming process.
This is more of a philosophical discussion (and possibly controversial) about how I approach sequencing a song. There are many things to think about when you sit down to not only program the patterns for the display, but even in picking the music you’ll use and what you intend to do with your design.
If you plan to post videos of your display to video sharing sites like YouTube, you need to take copyrighted content into consideration. A lot has changed over the years about this. In fact, this year, I created a custom soundtrack for my medley (my main song that gets most of my sequencing attention). I call it my oompa loompa song because it sounds funny. The term, not the song – well maybe the song too.
Many musical artists are allowing use of their music for this purpose, but there are others that need releases before you can post them and that usually involves purchasing a license. Fortunately, some awesome artists see this for what it is and understand that by allowing you to post videos using their copyrighted music, you are actually advertising for them so they allow it. I can’t tell you how many songs I have purchased because I saw a display using someone’s music and this goes to the artists’ bottom line. A win win for everyone involved. End rant.
If you use hip hop songs, keep in mind that visitors may have better sound systems in their cars than you have in your home so the neighbors may complain about loud music outside your house. I use this genre in a couple of songs, but run those sequences early in the evening. Also if your musical tastes lie outside the mainstream, that’s fine to use, but know that it may not translate well to your visitors. It might be a fun experiment to try however.
I generally run the high energy sequences between dusk and let those run for two hours. Then, I’ll switch to a more traditional playlist for a couple of hours in the evening that encourages lower sound levels. Lights are off at 10pm to encourage youngsters to go to bed on school nights. You can run playlists longer on weekends and/or on Christmas Eve. I don’t run my lights early in the morning for commuters, but if you have a lot of traffic, that might be a good idea too.
Finally, and this is the controversial part, should you have a single bush flashing or program the lights so that all of them are on? I am in the “all lights on” group most of the time, but will occasionally have some of them off. Potato potaato.