November 27, 2020

Once you have your lights set up and ready for action, it’s time to take a moment to test your sequencer and your display. In this post, we’re going to cover two ways to properly test and perfect the mapping of your Christmas light display.

The program I am currently using is xLights but the same would apply if you’re using Vixen as well. At first, this may seem a little tedious but I promise you will be happy that you did this for your display!

Bringing Your Display to Life

Creating the display inside of xLights or Vixen is more of a “virtual” part of your display. But once you set your lights and props up on the house is when it really starts to come to life.

The very first thing I want to recommend to you is to go out to the very same spot that you originally took a picture of your home (or as close as you can) and take a picture of your house with the lights on it. Ideally, you want to be able to see the house and the lights in this picture.

Inside of xLights, go to the “Layout” tab and there you can upload and replace your background image with the new image. The next step is to zoom in and you can see exactly where your lights are on the house.

You want to go through and line up your lights inside of xLights to be exactly what is on the house. For the outlines you can set the start and end point to be exactly what is on the house.

Testing Your Lights

The next tip is how we can test your lights. Go to the sequencer inside of xLights, create a new sequence, animation, 20 fps, and let’s start testing those lights.

To test your lights, you want to select the bars, have it set to run for 30 seconds, and give it a little a speed. You can choose a couple of colors, for testing I recommend using red and white.

Make sure the “Output to Lights” bulb is ON in the upper right corner of the xLights toolbar.

The goal for this method is to watch the bar going up and make sure all of your lights are lining up to your display as close to perfect as you can. As you find little issues, go back to the “Layout” Tab and make adjustments where needed.

To do further testing, I also like to have the bars go vertically, and lastly do the pinwheel. Making adjustments and trying to line everything up as close I can. Pay attention and you can adjust the lights to go clockwise or counterclockwise.

Overall, even if your show doesn’t use the bars effect, it’s really important to make sure that what you created for your sequence matches how the lights are set up outside. With a little extra effort and tweaking these corrections can go a very long way for your display.

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