For sure start with xlights. And you should do that as soon as possible. I am a first year guy to, and I thought I knew what I wanted with some degree of confidence coming in. But once I built the show I thought I wanted in xlights, I found I couldn't do all the effects I wanted to be able to do because of issues with the design.

An example is that I love the whole house effects where things spin and bounce around the whole display. But my initial design had the pixels too clustered together so the whole house effects were being lost.

So I began watching videos and getting knew ideas and evolving my show design. During this process I realized that I really liked the megatree as the center of the show. It sets off the whole house effects and is the single most interesting prop in any show due to its flexibility. I found that all the sequences I really liked featured the megatree, which originally I wasn't going to have one in my show.

Through this evolution I figured out exactly what I wanted in my show. And I can tell you that my show now uses less pixels than my original design. And I can do both more effects and more interesting effects

Once you get your house design in xlights, and a few songs sequenced, next step is build the props. Every prop I built so far in real life I have had to change the model in xlights for it.

An example is with my matrices. I watched a video on building matrices from Matt Johnson where he built 30x34 matrices using 1" 200 psi pvc. So my original design in xlights had two 30x34 matrices. Then I found pixelnet which comes in 4x8 sheets and made building matrices way easier. Well I didn't want to pay for more than one sheet of pixelnet since it's $70 per sheet, and I still wanted two matrices. So I cut one sheet of pixelnet in half giving me 2 24x24 matrices. So that required a change in xlights.

When you create a matrix in your preview during the design phase, xlights defaults to horizontal matrices. I found while wiring my matrices I didn't like having the wires coming in from the side. It made more sense to come in from the bottom since my controller was staked into the ground right below the matrices. So I changed my matrix models in xlights from horizontal to vertical.

And these examples are just a few of hundreds of little changes and tweaks that my show has gone through during it's evolution . So as you can see it doesn't make any sense to program your falcon controllers until you get things programmed in xlights and your props all built. Unless you like having to constantly go back and adjust that program with whenever a change occurs.

Also designing sequences you will find will evolve your show design as well. I started sequencing True Colors from the trolls movie, all of a sudden I realized I just had to have some boscoyo studios snow flakes to visually represent the sounds of the trolls getting their colors back. The previous 14 sequences I did I could care less about the snow flakes, but this one song made them a necessity for me. So there you have it, welcome to the addiction lol.

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