Kevin of The Nettles has this quandary about music-synchronized Christmas lights:

There’s this Xmas lights video (make sure that you have your sound on): Wizards of Winter [new, better link]
Lots of other video links to crazy Christmas light displays

[Ed: Updated those links; thanks Afro! -PK] Do you happen to know the origins of this video? It looks like the light display was implemented with a MIDI control to a lighting rig but there’s some speculation in the blogosphere that it’s a PC video editing job. I’d be curious to know what kind of rig you’d use for something like this, though not for Xmas lights.

Technical speculation after the jump . . .

It’s possible this video was faked, sure — but elaborate lighting displays like this are common, and even crazier than this.

Most setups like this are computer-controlled. In pro lighting, you’d use something like DMX, aka Digital MultipleX or DMX512. Theatrical applications use this almost exclusively. You can interface DMX and MIDI via a range of hardware interfaces; I’ve even seen people controlling DMX via Max/MSP. (Experimental, avant-garde Christmas lights, anyone?)

MIDI on its own as you use it in a sequencer wouldn’t work for something like this, but you could use MIDI Show Control, which is even employed at Disney World.

As for the people on blogs claiming this is a fake, if you’ve ever been to the Bronx or Staten Island this time of year, you know that Occum’s Razor does not apply to Christmas lights. Let me reword it for you: “Given two equally predictive theories, the most obsessive-compulsive one is correct.”

Anyone seen particularly insane Christmas light displays, or can tell us more about how they’re done? Email me.

UPDATED: The solution shown in this particular video is Light-O-Rama, a custom software / hardware interface. It supports X10 control, which is direct electrical control. That makes sense: no real reason for MIDI Show Control or DMX since you don’t have to interface with pro lighting equipment here. Really, all you need is some sequencing capability. Full details of this setup at, as proven at Snopes (which tests urban legends).