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jim6918

Suggestions for Using Strobes

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Based on earlier advice, I purchased 25 strobes from Paul that I will be placing randomly in a 30 tall pine tree in front yard, most likely on a single channel, two at most. I have never decorated this tree before and it has always come out as the black hole in any display I've ever done, including last years inauguration to LOR.

Having looked at videos til I am cross-eyed, I come away with the feeling that "less is more" when it comes to firing strobes during a sequence.

Whats the opinions here about when to use strobes in sequencing? Just the high points of the music? Or when?

Using the visualizer for strobes doesn't give the real effect of the strobes actually firing, it just looks like an ON and OFF.

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I won't be much help, as this will be my first year with them also, but I was just going to use them when there is a cymbal crash (not every one) or some other high point in the song...

maybe 4 or 5 times during a song tops..

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I dont use mine that often, I go for more of the wow factor. some songs I don't use them at all, but others I may used them 2 or 3 times. For years past I had the same problem with a tree that made a huge black hole in the display. I ordered some blizzards from pondude and that solved the problem nicely, could be something for you to look into. here is a link to his site http://www.christmasonmanor.com/store/

greg

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do you have a video or picture of the Blizzards?

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unfoutunatly I don't however I am sure someone here might, from what I understand greg sold alot of thes last year

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jimswinder wrote:

maybe 4 or 5 times during a song tops..


Count me also on the side of less is definitely more. If you're planning on celebrating every cymbal crash with strobes, I would suggest either you seriously reconsider that plan, or that you not sequence very many songs which include cymbals. Strobes are so cool that it's real easy to get carried away. I did my first year and wound up going back inside during my first night's show and deleting over half of my strobe use. Greg's absolutely correct about the wow factor, and it's a lot easier than you might think to go from "wow" to "yawn".

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George Simmons wrote:

jimswinder wrote:
maybe 4 or 5 times during a song tops..

Count me also on the side of less is definitely more. If you're planning on celebrating every cymbal crash with strobes, I would suggest either you seriously reconsider that plan, or that you not sequence very many songs which include cymbals.

LOL...

George..

I said 4 or 5, TOPS!! Definitely not every cymbal crash...don't want the people to go blind!! :)

But like everything else in this Christmas Lighting business...it's the persons own preference. We don't really know what we like until we actually see it in motion.

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Greg wrote:

I dont use mine that often, I go for more of the wow factor. some songs I don't use them at all, but others I may used them 2 or 3 times. For years past I had the same problem with a tree that made a huge black hole in the display. I ordered some blizzards from pondude and that solved the problem nicely, could be something for you to look into. here is a link to his site http://www.christmasonmanor.com/store/

greg


I agree with Greg here... I used to hang 20 curtain strobes in the canopy of the oaks in my front yard... Most songs didn't use them... and the ones that did used them during crescendos at the end of the song, and during a couple of drum riffs. At most, the strobes were on for about 4 seconds at a time.

You can see how I used mine in Carol of the Bells at the end on my web page at the link below.

I also use DMX strobe effect to highlight the machine gun sound in Snoopy's Christmas... with very precisely timed flashes that are in sync with the sound in the song. This is an effect that you can't achieve with curtain strobes.

D.T.

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I, too, am a proponent of less is more as regards strobes. If you use them all the time, or in every song, they lose the wow factor. For 2009, I sequenced five pieces. Only one included the strobes. They fired at two points in the music -- both identical sections where the music went from minor to major (a resolution) and the melody/harmony were treble and energetic. Perhaps "twinkly", "sparkley" or "bright" would be terms to describe these sections. The video is here . . .

http://vimeo.com/8472099

If you watch the video, you'll see that I also have a huge black hole in the display. To the left in front of the upstairs section of the house is a large pin oak tree that I have been forbidden to take a saw to. My financial agent (aka., better half) would likely amputate a part of me were I to amputate a part of it. So, rather than eliminate it, I will use it. This year, the plan is to place 15 floods (five clear, five red and five green) in the tree, all aimed upward. I haven't yet decided whether to control them as three channels or fifteen channels (wouldn't 15 floods on one yard element all in "twinkle" be a useful effect?)

Hope some of this helps as you decide how to work your strobes.

Cray

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I think that a lot depends on how big the display is and how far from the viewing area the strobes are. A larger display and/or greater viewing distance can support it better. I agree with the masses on frequency. Save them for special occasions.

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Ya know, in thinking about it, Jim, if you use the strobes sparingly on this big tree, it will continue to be a black hole in the display for most of the show. That's ok if it's what you want, and if the coming season won't support it, that's all you need. In the future, with more channels at your control, you might (if you haven't already) consider putting a light string anchor at the top and converting it to a mega tree. After all, nothing says you have to lay the lights on the actual branches. And in this case (using a real pine as a mega tree) you wouldn't necessarily have to light the back of it, saving half the channels and strings.

Food for thought . . .

Cray

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DownTown wrote:

Greg wrote:
I dont use mine that often, I go for more of the wow factor. some songs I don't use them at all, but others I may used them 2 or 3 times. For years past I had the same problem with a tree that made a huge black hole in the display. I ordered some blizzards from pondude and that solved the problem nicely, could be something for you to look into. here is a link to his site http://www.christmasonmanor.com/store/

greg


I agree with Greg here... I used to hang 20 curtain strobes in the canopy of the oaks in my front yard... Most songs didn't use them... and the ones that did used them during crescendos at the end of the song, and during a couple of drum riffs. At most, the strobes were on for about 4 seconds at a time.

You can see how I used mine in Carol of the Bells at the end on my web page at the link below.

I also use DMX strobe effect to highlight the machine gun sound in Snoopy's Christmas... with very precisely timed flashes that are in sync with the sound in the song. This is an effect that you can't achieve with curtain strobes.

D.T.

I don't want you to think I'm picking on you. But the sound quality SUCKS on the Carol of the bells. It was recorded way to loud, and I have my volume turned almost all the way down and its heard to hear, yet if I turn it to loud its all distorted. Just a friendly tip or comment. Otherwise things for letting me see the strobes in action.

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Cray Augsburg wrote:

Ya know, in thinking about it, Jim, if you use the strobes sparingly on this big tree, it will continue to be a black hole in the display for most of the show. That's ok if it's what you want, and if the coming season won't support it, that's all you need. In the future, with more channels at your control, you might (if you haven't already) consider putting a light string anchor at the top and converting it to a mega tree. After all, nothing says you have to lay the lights on the actual branches. And in this case (using a real pine as a mega tree) you wouldn't necessarily have to light the back of it, saving half the channels and strings.

Food for thought . . .

Cray

You sure have a point Cray, that tree is going to still be a black hole for most of the show. The more I think about it (and I haven't made up my mind) I'm not sure why I would go to all the trouble to run the strobes up in that tree for the small return. I have thought about doing some kind of color wash thing, but still undecided now. I am getting pretty close to maxing out my dedicated 100 amp sub-panel, so not sure I can do a mega tree either. Hmmmmmmmmm, is that a chain saw I hear?

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Personally I like more strobes in the display but used sparingly and if a few go out during the season you won't miss them as much.

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redsea300 wrote:

do you have a video or picture of the Blizzards?

We used blizzards this past year, from a different vendor though.

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jim6918 wrote:

Hmmmmmmmmm, is that a chain saw I hear?



Listen. Next time I'm out of town, you bring the chain saw and cut loose on my pin oak. Then I'll have an alibi -- she'll be none the wiser. You can even keep the wood! :)

Cray

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BrianC wrote:

redsea300 wrote:
do you have a video or picture of the Blizzards?

We used blizzards this past year, from a different vendor though.


Brian, Were did you get yours from?

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BrianC wrote:

redsea300 wrote:
do you have a video or picture of the Blizzards?

We used blizzards this past year, from a different vendor though.


redsee300

Brians website has a good view of some blizzards in action, that should give you a good idea what they look like.

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ny_yankee_25 wrote:


Brian, Were did you get yours from?

They are from Winterland, a bit pricey but if you catch one of their sales the cost is bearable. Picked up two more sets for this year, thinking about placing all four set on the tree on the left to create a snowfall effect.

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BrianC wrote:

Posted this in the CCR section but here is another strobe option we'll be using this year....I'm really happy with they way this effect turned out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDrGV_yEdS8









I gave the CCR a go at 0.03 seconds and it looks fantastic maybe not as bright as a strobe but a great extra use for the CCR and very effective as an alternative option

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As you increased the speed above .05 did you notice some misfires starting where the color would show red or off white? That might go away with the hardware update but haven't tried it yet.

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BrianC wrote:

As you increased the speed above .05 did you notice some misfires starting where the color would show red or off white? That might go away with the hardware update but haven't tried it yet.

running 1 CCR at 0.03 works great i havent noticed any misfires. I did notice it firing red & blue on 2 channels but I worked that out to be 2 channels had moved and were mixed with each other. When I did go to 0.01 seconds thats when i saw the misfires and even then the effect wasnt long enough to look good, so tried 0.03 seconds and it looks great. I will definetly be useing this effect amongst other great effects that this thing does for this years show

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I used my strobes in 3 positions this last year, 2 in the star on the tree - 12 in the mega tree - one on top of each vertical pipe (arch). And I also switched from a Z-Tree to conventional mega tree (loved my Z-Tree, but storage and assembly was an issue).

What I found out was the strobes got lost more in the conventional mega tree, and were totally lost on top of the pipes. The Z-Tree allowed the strobes to be placed more on a dark background and when they fired they would really POP! Not blinding at all but really stood out.

The other reason my strobes were not as bright this year is I added more colored flood lights to the front of the house, which brought the whole intensity of the light level up so your eyes were not shocked by the strobes. I also have a street light directly across from my display. That's one of those - "Oh Well" - things.

The strobes in the star was a nice effect and the 2 of them together looked good enough to say - next year do 3. On the pipes - next year drop that idea. Next year the tree will have twice the number of strobes - and they only fire at high points, but personally I don't mind blinding the viewer, the sensory input to the brain highlights the spot in the song and its only for less than 5 - 15 seconds at the most.

I guess my input here would be - what is your ambient light level when the strobes fire. Is your display dark in nature? With snow on the ground your strobes will give more of a twinkle effect. In the rain they may get lost. Lots of things to consider.

Here is the video the local news paper shot last year, you can see how the strobes got lost Click HERE...

Each year I learn something new - my last show was quite different from the first animated show I did 5 years prior...

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Papa-LF wrote:

I used my strobes in 3 positions this last year, 2 in the star on the tree - 12 in the mega tree - one on top of each vertical pipe (arch). And I also switched from a Z-Tree to conventional mega tree (loved my Z-Tree, but storage and assembly was an issue).

What I found out was the strobes got lost more in the conventional mega tree, and were totally lost on top of the pipes. The Z-Tree allowed the strobes to be placed more on a dark background and when they fired they would really POP! Not blinding at all but really stood out.

The other reason my strobes were not as bright this year is I added more colored flood lights to the front of the house, which brought the whole intensity of the light level up so your eyes were not shocked by the strobes. I also have a street light directly across from my display. That's one of those - "Oh Well" - things.

The strobes in the star was a nice effect and the 2 of them together looked good enough to say - next year do 3. On the pipes - next year drop that idea. Next year the tree will have twice the number of strobes - and they only fire at high points, but personally I don't mind blinding the viewer, the sensory input to the brain highlights the spot in the song and its only for less than 5 - 15 seconds at the most.

I guess my input here would be - what is your ambient light level when the strobes fire. Is your display dark in nature? With snow on the ground your strobes will give more of a twinkle effect. In the rain they may get lost. Lots of things to consider.

Here is the video the local news paper shot last year, you can see how the strobes got lost Click HERE...

Each year I learn something new - my last show was quite different from the first animated show I did 5 years prior...



Whats the difference between a conventional mega tree and a z- tree? I have never heard of a z tree?

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