In 2004 we upgraded our computer control system to Light-O-Rama (LOR). Light-O-Rama is a computerized lighting system allowing an individual to program lights to music. For 2004 we were using 5 LOR controller boards to control 48 channels. Each channel controlled a group of lights and gave us the capability of applying special effects such as lights on, lights off, fade up, fade down, set intensity (dimming level), twinkle, and many more lighting effects to each string. By 2009 we were using over 132 channels to control our light show.
In 2011 we started the migration from incandescent lights to what is called "Smart Pixels". Think of each light on a string being able to produce Red, Green, and Blue color variations. This basically allows each individual bulb to produce over 62,000 different colors. Plus each bulb or "Pixel" is individually controlled for effects. We are not yet 100% smart pixels and probably wont be for quite a few years. Some of our display items are still standard Christmas lights.
In 2011 we were using over 10,000 channels to control our show. And had outgrown our previous software/hardware configuration. So now we are in the replacement stage. Slowly replacing the lights and controllers over to the new technology to better handle the requirements of our show. We still use LOR for some aspects of our show, but have moved on to more powerful software and hardware designed specifically for the smart Pixels.
To program the show, think of an Excel spreadsheet. With each column across the top representing 1/10 to 1/20 of a second of the song, and the rows representing 1 channel each (Remember since each pixel has a Red, Green, Blue, than every pixel requires 3 channels). You then have to program each cell to say what color and what effect you want that pixel to do during that short period of time. All this works with the use of specialized PC software and other custom software, which allows us to design our light show and synchronize it to music and video. Which is then broadcast over our low power FM radio station.
We still incorporate a few X-10 modules inside to control our indoor Christmas lighting and Tree. Allowing us to turn them on and off as well as dim them.