MWM in an Episode of The Great Christmas Light Fight and the Tech Behind it

Lights on Jeater BendOne of the neighborhoods competing in the December 14, 2015's episode 3 of ABC's "Great Christmas Light Fight" featured support for Glow With the Show/Made With Magic devices!  That neighborhood is the Jeater Bend neighborhood of Celebration, FL.  You can watch the video about them online by clicking this link.  They're featured in the First 11 minutes or so of that show. 

This was a great boost for all those working on getting similar support built into their own shows.  It's further proof that this is not a bad idea.  Maybe it will intrigue others and get them on board, too.  The more the merrier.  But how did they pull it off?

Now, their show has a distinctive Disney flavor and Celebration, FL has a Disney history.  I guessed that they might have had help from one of the Imagineers involved with the MWM shows at Disney World.   If proprietary tech was used, it's doubtful any implementation clues would be available.   But, you never know.  So I posted a query on the doityourselfchristmas.com forum thread on this topic to see if anyone had some info about all this. 

To my delight, John Storms, aka, jstorms replied that the Jeater Bend folks had contacted him and were pretty much using his solution!  Here's his video describing how he goes about including MWM support into his shows:

In Summary:

  • He begins by using the Open Source audio processing software, Audacity to insert markers/labels at desired points in the audio file that is being sequenced.   (Consult the Audacity manual for how to insert labels into an audio track. )   
  • Then, the 'labels' are exported to a file and Made with Magic commands are associated with the desired timing markers provided by that file.
  • This edited file becomes the input for a Perl script that will control the Made With Magic Command part of the show.  That Perl script is initiated by another program that will run in parallel with the script and provide the audio and any other desired lighting effects.  In this example, that program is Light-O-Rama.  (Should also work using Vixen and it's Launcher plugin - which may be of interest since Vixen is freely available and Light-O-Rama is a commercial product.)
  • The Perl script handles the formatting and timing for sending the MWM commands over an ethernet connection to the iTach IP2IR infra-red signal transmitter. 

For more details, consult his web pages that cover all this great stuff.

The only remaining question folks seem to bring up concerns the actual IR emitters and getting ones powerful enough to cover a large enough area to reach all the people who may be out at street level or even further out.  That was one of the notable developments of the Jeater Bend neighborhood's setup - they showed folks out in the street getting useful signal.

Keep an eye on that doityourselfchristmas.com thread.  They'll get it worked out sooner or later and shows supporting MWM should proliferate after that.   So hang onto those hats and handheld devices and get them ready for next Christmas.  Hopefully, there'll be some more shows that incorporate them.

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