So You're New And Want To Start A Light Show...

... But Where Do You Begin?

If you’re brand new, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the information and options out there on the internet. Light-O-Rama products are designed to be user friendly and take as much of the hard work off your hands as possible (but still allow you to dive into custom and DIY shows if and when you're ready).

This page will help you figure out what to buy and how to use our software so that you have a successful first season - no electrical engineering degree necessary to start a Light-O-Rama show!

There are two common types of lights people think of when they decide they want to start a light show: "Traditional" LEDs or Incandescents lights or props from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Target, etc. OR they're thinking of smart RGB "pixels" that can turn any color and make patterns on your props. If you saw a "Cool display on YouTube with lots of colors," you probably saw smart RGB. The most common option is to have a mix of both, but if your heart is set on a full display of either type, we can help with that as well!

What do you want on YOUR house? (Click an answer)

A Mix of Traditional + RGB Lights in YOUR Display

Blending the two most common types of lights is the best of both worlds when it comes to creating a light show. Traditional LED or Incandescent Lights help you fill SPACE on your home and are great options for decorating bushes, columns on a porch, wrapping live trees, creating a traditional Christmas mega tree, or creating a scene of wireframe props like stars, reindeer, or snowmen.

Smart RGB lights are DENSE when used to decorate a prop so that you can create intricate patterns and movement with your lights. You'd need a lot of smart RGB lights to decorate your entire home and yard, so mixing in traditional Christmas lights let's you buy the "wow factor" smart RGB props you REALLY want without breaking the bank - just use traditional lights to fill up the remaining areas of your show.

Keep reading in the next two sections to learn about which of our products control Traditional Lights and which ones control smart RGB.

Traditional Lights in YOUR Display

The 'Residential Series' CTBPC16 controllers are perfect for residential homes. If you need something more durable for a commercial environment where you'll be "out in the field," take a look at the Pro Series line of products.

Each of these controllers has 16 plugs, or "channels," so you can have 16 different things in your display synced up to the music. All four of these starter packages come with ONE of these controllers (with 16 plugs), an adapter and cat5 line so you can connect everything to the computer to set things up, and a free copy of our software.

The Showtime Central Starter Packages have a few more items. Instead of only one controller, you can buy one, two, three, or four controllers right in this starter package, which means you can plug 16, 32, 48, or 64 different sets of lights in in your display - more things to sync to the music! It also comes with an FM transmitter so you can broadcast music to car radios, and a "Showtime Director," which can act as the 'Command Center' of your show instead of a laptop computer that you put in your garage to run the show all of December.

Answer the question below these packages to find out what you should add to your cart!

What will be the 'Command Center' in YOUR Show?

  I have a Windows based computer I can put in my garage to run my show that I don't need to use for personal reasons during the holiday season

  I don't have/don't want to dedicate a computer to my show for the whole season. I will need a Showtime Director to run my show.

RGB Lights in YOUR Display

Pixel lights come in two forms: Smart RGB and Dumb RGB. Dumb RGB means that each connected element can be turned any color as a whole, like the entire strand of lights or a flood lights. Smart RGB means every light on the strand can be individually controlled and turned any color, which is probably what you’re looking for if you saw a “cool display with pixels” on YouTube.

We have a variety of "CPC" Pacakges available that come with the Coro props, Pixels, and Controller you need in order to easily add pixels into your show, plus we already have pre-programmed light shows you can buy so you don't even have to create your own effects!

Watch this video to learn about how to add CPC Packages to your cart so you make sure you have everything you need.

Add as many of these packages to your cart as you want then come back to this page to learn more about the other things you'll need to start your show, and whether or not you'll need a software license.

In each package, you'll be asked about adding a Cat5 Cable and adding extensions. You need one Cat5 cable per CPC Package that you purchase (because they each have their own controller). "Extensions" allow you to place the props 5, 10, 15, or 25 feet away from the controller. These are SPECIAL extensions - you can't use the generic extension cords you buy from Menards or Home Depot. Those department store extension cords can only be used to power the controller itself.

If you're excited to create your OWN light shows for your own music and have ideas for custom props, take a look at our "Build Your Own" packages that come with just the controller and lights.

'CPC' = Coro + Pixels + Controller (take the guess work out of shopping!)

Don't Forget The RGB Singing Faces!

What will be the 'Command Center' in YOUR RGB Show?

  I have a Windows based computer I can put in my garage to run my show that I don't need to use for personal reasons during the holiday season

  I don't have/don't want to dedicate a computer to my show for the whole season. I need something else (a Showtime Director) to run my show.

Other "Starter" items you may need for an RGB Show

Ready to Use Sequences

("Light Shows to Music")

If this is your first year or it's late in the season (after October 1), you may want to consider purchasing sequences and focus your time on installing your display. We have premade sequences for multiple layouts. Our sequence store has over 300 songs to choose from, or you can purchase a ready-to-go SD card full of popular songs.

Want to see a video of how our sequences might look on a home? Click here!

We have three main layouts to choose from (Traditional, Deluxe, and RGBPlus). The layout in the video above is "RGBPlus." See a more detailed comparison and pictures of each layout by clicking here.

Use our software to easily set the order of your songs (sequences) and what time they'll play from your computer, OR use our software's SD card builder to do the same thing for a Director run show. Building a playlist is easy, and we've got tutorials to show you how later down the road.

Which Type of Layout Do You Need Sequences For?

Traditional Lights Only

A Mix of Traditional and RGB Lights (build your own playlist)

RGB Lights ("RGBPlus") with optional Traditional Lights

Sequences preloaded on an SD card (Traditional or RGB)

Singing Faces Only

Rgbnetwork picture for computer use

Planning to buy RGBPlus Sequences?

If you'd like to use our pre-programmed light shows ("RGBPlus Sequences,") you'll need to connect your lights following these diagrams once you recieve your packages. Each column represents props that will be daisy chained together using Cat5 cable.

The end of each daisy chain will either go back to a USB Adapter that plugs into your Command Ceneter (Computer or Showtime Director). These pictures show how our packages are split between these "Networks." For a computer show, you'll need one Adapter if you have any props in that Network's column (meaning you could need up to 4 for your display).

The N4-G4-Director comes will all four needed ports. No adapters needed.

Rgbnetwork picture for director use

Creating Your Own Sequences

("Light Shows to Music")

Software Download

Once you have an idea of what kind of lights you want to use, it’s time to start designing your layout so you know what equipment to order so you can later create your own sequences. You can sketch out your display by hand, or download the demo version of our software. Once you’re ready to purchase an actual license, you’ll type in the license key in the Sequencer program and re-register your software to turn on all of the new features. The demo software will not output commands to actual lights, nor will you be able to copy the sequences you create to a new computer.

Build a Preview

A preview is the virtual representation of your lights so that you can see how your show will look when you’re creating a sequence in the software. You can either free-hand draw strings of lights, add pre-defined prop shapes, or import props from various vendors. For each prop, you’ll tell the software if it’s a traditional strand of lights, dumb RGB, or Smart RGB, that way you’ll be able to create the correct kind of effects later on.

You can learn more about building a preview using our online help file or watching video tutorials.

Buy a Software License

Once you’ve designed your display, you should have a much better idea of what equipment you need and what license level you need to purchase. You can use the “Statistics” tab of the preview editor to see a summary of the number of AC props, Dumb RGB props, and Smart RGB props that are in your display, or count them up manually if you drew your display layout on paper. One of the main factors to consider when purchasing a license is how many Unit IDs are in your display, remembering that each AC controller and Dumb RGB equals ONE Unit ID, and each Pixie controller has as many Unit IDs as the number in it’s name (i.e., a Pixie8 controller will output to 8 Unit IDs.). Take a look at the different license level features for comparison.

If you plan to use pixels, we recommend purchasing the Professional (or “Pro”) license level so you can take advantage of using our built in pixel motion effects. If you’re looking for more individual bulb control over your pixels, consider our optional add-on Superstar software.

Creating Sequences

Once you’ve created your virtual layout or “preview” in the software, you’re ready to start working on your own sequences. You’ll create a new sequence and let the software know which audio file on your computer you want to use and which preview the show will be for.

Our software allows you to organize your props into groups for easier sequencing, create multiple timing tracks per song, and create a wide variety of effects for both traditional and RGB lights. For more help understanding the Sequencer and all of the options, you can read more in our online help file or watch video tutorials online.

Scheduling Your Shows

What else do you need to know to get started? Just remember this is here for later!

Computer

To run shows from your computer using Light-O-Rama S5, you’ll create a playlist using the Show Editor, then set scheduled times for your playlist (or multiple playlists) using the Schedule Editor.

Learn More about the Show Editor: Online Help Documentation or Video Tutorial
Learn More about the Schedule Editor: Online Help Documentation or Video Tutorial

To run shows from your computer using Light-O-Rama S6, you'll create a playlist and schedule your show all through the Light-O-Rama Control Panel.

ShowTime Director

If you purchase our Showtime Central Package, it already comes with a Director, which means any pre-loaded SD card you purchase will already be contain audio and sequences and be ready to go. Just connect your controllers to the right networks. If you need to create your own playlist of shows, you’ll use the Light-O-Rama Hub and SD card builder if you're using S5, or the Light-O-Rama Control Panel if you're using S6. Learn more by using our online help documentation or watching video tutorials.

If you're going to buy a backup card in addition to the card you receive from us with the purchase of a Showtime Director, we suggest Kingston Technology 4GB SDHC class 4 SD memory cards because they're rated to work at -20 degrees. These can typically be found at your big-box stores or you can do a quick Internet search for them. (All cards that come with our Showtime Directors are Kingston.)

SD or SDHC memory cards should be formatted as FAT16 or FAT32. SDXC memory cards (typically 64GB and higher) will not work unless the device is partitioned so the first partition is formatted as FAT32.

We do NOT recommend using class 2 memory cards.  Look for a 2 with a 'C' around it.  These are very slow cards and most have trouble keeping up with the demands from Light-O-Rama.

We do NOT recommend any SanDisk SDHC memory cards. Many of our customers have reported issues making them work in Light-O-Rama ShowTime Directors.

Support

If you get stuck and need a little extra help, we have plenty of resources and articles available here on our website. 

You can also join our user forum or Facebook group to look through past questions or create your own post. There are plenty of LOR users who were once in your shoes that can help, especially with installation ideas for your house!

If you'd rather someone design and create custom light shows for you to any song you choose, try contacting one of our partners.

If you still can't find your answer, reach out to us on the help desk or by phone.

Good luck with your first season, and thank you for considering Light-O-Rama!