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Thread: How Long to Choreograph a song?

  1. #1
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    Default How Long to Choreograph a song?

    Hello,

    I'm brand to new to Vixen and Christmas lights and just wondering how long it generally takes you to finish a light show for one song just within vixen? I understand it varies by song and level of detail but just wondering about average time for about 3-4 channels. I've only done one song (All I want for Christmas is you) and it took a couple hours. I'm sure I'll get a lot better quick, and any tips for Vixen would be appreciated!

    P.S. audacity beat finder isn't that good and I am still trying to get the plug ins to work

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    Have you tried the Marks Manager built into Vixen? I find it easier than using audacity. It's under tools.
    I can usually do a song in 45 mins to an hour and thats taking my time. It gets easier over time.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    I have heard all kinda answers to that question one guy said it takes him 2 hours to do like 30 sec of one song. i guess if you have 200+ channels i could see that taking that long.. 3 channels wow i could do a song in maybe 20 minutes if i was in a hurry. its been taking about 2 hours to get something decent looking for me. I have 11 channels and 1 channel for just the singing in the song the rest just kinda beat to the music. or goes with the flow.
    I am brand new this year also and i know i have more to learn plan to all yr long.
    FB @ langleylights

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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    I would say 2-3 hours per finished minute is good expectation. Longer for acoustic or a capella songs (due to irregular timing). Generally the first minute or so of a sequence will take twice as long as the rest. You can get it done faster if that's really your goal. But taking your time on it will give you a reasonably detailed sequence that looks a lot nicer than just broad brushed effects you paint on quickly.

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    I have 14000 pixels. + four singing faces. Average time for me is 2 hours for 20 seconds of music.

    2017 adding 2 more candy canes, 7 Mid trees and a Halloween show. Removing most 2812 strips and replacing them with bullet pixel mounting strips. Replacing many buck converter waterproof bags with printed boxes.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    Quote Originally Posted by akafoury View Post
    Hello,

    I'm brand to new to Vixen and Christmas lights and just wondering how long it generally takes you to finish a light show for one song just within vixen? I understand it varies by song and level of detail but just wondering about average time for about 3-4 channels. I've only done one song (All I want for Christmas is you) and it took a couple hours. I'm sure I'll get a lot better quick, and any tips for Vixen would be appreciated!
    This would be like asking someone how long it takes to draw a picture. It's all about the detail and level of complexity you want.

    I could draw a picture of a house in 30 seconds. Or months.

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    It doesn't depend so much on channels since with larger channel counts you're usually rendering effects across groups of logical elements. The style of music and how you want to visualize it is what really makes a difference. With electronic music or artists using click tracks, it's much easier to lock on to the beat. Also, some songs I can just visualize in my head better. If you're trying to lay effects for the vocals, I find it takes much longer. I'll typically spend 6-8 hours on a song.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    Like others has said, the true answer is "it depends". Lots of variables depending on song and the level of detail you want to go to. But with that said....

    Quote Originally Posted by jchuchla View Post
    I would say 2-3 hours per finished minute is good expectation. Longer for acoustic or a capella songs (due to irregular timing). Generally the first minute or so of a sequence will take twice as long as the rest. You can get it done faster if that's really your goal. But taking your time on it will give you a reasonably detailed sequence that looks a lot nicer than just broad brushed effects you paint on quickly.
    I was going to say almost exactly the same thing. It varies but if I had to put a number to overall average time I've spent on various different songs, my "average" is around 2-3 hours sequencing per minute of music.

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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    Akafoury -- I'm completely a novice, and have only sequenced a handful of songs - which I think kind of gives me a unique perspective closer to yours as I don't have 100's of songs worth of experience to pull from. I can tell you it gets faster...much faster, but is never "fast" if you want things to be tight and fit the song. My first sequence was just a 30 second or so "test pattern" I did with a THX intro. It took a few hours. But, like you I was learning. The next song I did was a custom edit of White Christmas by Bing Crosby with a dub-step (edm/trap idk something like that) version. THIS TOOK FOREVER! I spent hours upon hours. But, I was learning ton's more! I tried using VAMP plugins for audacity to incorporate marks better, tried different types of marks from Vixen and Audacity then finally got aggravated and tried the beat mark maker where you just tap to place a mark. For me, that was the golden ticket! I let vixen pick up the basics, then I pull in what I want based on my feeling.

    Now I have a basic workflow which makes life so much easier. I'm sure it wouldn't work for everyone (and may not be the fastest) but here's how I approach a song:
    Listen to it... again and again. If you are going to edit it, listen to the edited version again and again, lol. AKA listen a LOT before you ever start. This gives me a "feel" for how I want to sequence it. I know the song, the beat, the changes, the unique parts, the theme etc. For example Amy Grants Silent Night vs Skrillix Bangarang --- what works for one just wouldn't look right on the other - even if your timing is perfect. After a few listens I start getting better ideas of how parts of the song would mesh up with my display and how I can work my elements with the music to bring out more vs just blinking on a beat. I'll get ideas for colors, sequences etc.

    Next I listen again. This time I am looking for specific key points in the song where "scheme" changes fit. Maybe it's a shift in overall color theme, or focusing on a new element group or something like that. I will write down the time stamp of the key points and know that's where I want to make a "dramatic" shift during the sequence. I don't make these in Vixen, just write down the time to reference later. I also take note of any major events. Unique cymbal crashes, that one time they use whatever instrument, etc. Anything that I know I want to tie in to connect the lights with the music. In my head I am usually beginning to see a more clear picture of how I want to make things look...

    I also pay attention to the instruments (as applicable). If there is a piano, drum and guitar (for example) -- I suspect I will use those to mesh my lights with the music. Listening for those individually may give you a better result than just going on a four count, for example. I often "link" an element or group of elements to an instrument. My display *has* [long story not relevant to this] 8 mini-trees w/ a strobe incorporated, 1 mega pixel-tree (with trunk firestick and star), and 4 arches. I kept things in multiples of 4 for meshing with the music. Anywho - I may use the arches to match the drums, the mini trees to work with the piano, and the mega-tree fire stick to key on the lead guitar. I don't specifically "lock" into this, but it helps me pass the feeling of the song via light. By listening to these I get a really good idea of how I want to make it look. Now I have a plan, and a general concept - this is when I begin marking timings.

    I let Vixen or Audacity pick up the basic marks. Then I will change mark colors and tap along with say the guitar - this gives me the marks that I need for JUST the guitar parts. Since I've listened a ton, I know how the music goes very well and it's easy to mark off the "points of interest" I want to sequence to. Then I listen again watching my timing marks for places I'm early or late. I tend to be just a tad slow more often than early, and found looking at the waveform helps tweak my marks --- but I always have to move them a tad earlier if I use just those lol. Then I'll add maybe 30 seconds worth of just PULSE from 100 down to 30, starting each on my timing marks for that instrument. This does two things for me - one, it gives a great visual of my timing vs the music and I can easily go in and adjust until it's spot on (From this point on, I am no longer adjusting marks, I literally just adjust the light timing. The marks get me close, but I use these pulses as my final start points.) --- it also makes patterns super visible. And that's where your speed comes in. Once you see that repeating pattern, you can copy a chunk of sequence and reuse it again and again! I'll do this to the rest of the song (where you can) and lock down that instruments timing. Once you have maybe 8 perfectly timed, you can copy and paste them in and many more will be spot on. They likely wont all be perfect unless it's generated music - but they are often very close.

    Then I just repeat that same thing for the piano, trumpet, vocals, etc. using different colors and elements for each. Now I have my basic beat which vixen pulled in for me, and all of my "key" instruments, and anything else I want to time things to. I've also picked up an idea of repeating patterns (sometimes I will use a different shade of colors for those if I know I want to use them in the sequence). Maybe there is an 8 count repeating whatever on the guitar - I may use light blue and dark blue alternating to mark those --- then for my actual sequence I know I can use a pattern there and repeat it (or that specific count) for congruence in the sequence. You can most often do at least a 4 count repetitively with a pattern (in my experience anyway). Even if you are changing patterns, colors, even elements each time, the timing is still there and it will just feel and look right.

    That's the bulk of my "work". SAVE THAT as a backup - then edit a copy of it for the real sequence. Things would not look good, but they would be on time. Now I just go back and paint things however I want. It may be "double work" but, by having everything perfected on the timing - I can focus on the look (and subsequently I'm not focusing on the look during the timing part - I'm just getting it timed out as perfectly as I can). I'm not having to adjust every single beat a few milliseconds earlier, or later --- I just swap out the pulse for whatever effect I want to display. Granted different effects may need to be shifted to get them to look just how you want, but you have a great starting point. The key is I'm not having to focus on getting the timing right I am focused on getting the look / feel / color / pattern / etc how I want. This, to me, is the FUN part. Now admittedly, there is some timing work still needed to "end" your blinks on time - but since each element and pattern may look differently I find its easier to adjust the end during the painting part vs the timing part. A leaping arch ending on time with a long note, is as important as starting on time --- but timing that is totally different than having a tree flash on a cymbal crash. So I focus on start times with my timing, and end times with painting.

    I would love to show you some of my sequences, but that's part of the "longer story"... They are all gone. HDD with no additional back up gave up the magic smoke and I lost everything. Ten's of Thousands of pictures, documents, etc. etc. So, backup, backup, backup! I am actually just now getting a chance to start again, hopefully I can get a show on for 2018. Luckily, I've went through the growing pains already and have a workflow that will make life so much easier.


    Listen, listen, listen.
    Take notes.
    Make timing marks with tapper for each key instrument you want incorporated.
    Light those to perfect timing.
    Paint it up!

    Oh and as a tip -- I've watched tons of shows. Read tons of opinions, etc. If there's anything that I've learned, it's that less is more. Having 250,000 lights is great! Making them blink in time, is awesome! But one does not need to make them ALL BLINK, ALL THE TIME! Use them to tell your story of the song. Give them a role in your show, instead of a blink on a beat.

    And wow... that was long. Sorry.

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  13. #10
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    Default Re: How Long to Choreograph a song?

    Quote Originally Posted by akafoury View Post
    Hello,

    I'm brand to new to Vixen and Christmas lights and just wondering how long it generally takes you to finish a light show for one song just within vixen? I understand it varies by song and level of detail but just wondering about average time for about 3-4 channels. I've only done one song (All I want for Christmas is you) and it took a couple hours. I'm sure I'll get a lot better quick, and any tips for Vixen would be appreciated!

    P.S. audacity beat finder isn't that good and I am still trying to get the plug ins to work
    Iíve ranged from 3 hours to 20 hours per minute if I include effect R&D. 20 channnelish. I like intensities, color gradients, and animation that go along with instrumental and vocal rises/falls, and I like unique flashy stuff. Many people do not perceive those details, but I donít care.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    youtu.be/nBL9qYPaXwQ

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