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First Halloween shows....

Started by dkulp, October 21, 2013, 08:01:59 AM

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I posted this on one of the other forums, but thought I'd post it here as well....

We had our first Halloween shows this weekend and everything worked perfectly.   I didn't record the whole show as I was just trying to enjoy the moments, laugh with the kids, chat with the parents, etc...   However, I did record one song where the kids were dancing:

I DID end up running this from the Raspberry Pi using the latest FPP code with all the sync fixes.   The new code is WAY WAY better than the previous versions.   I kept the xLights stuff there as a backup, but the FPP web front end is easier to manually start/stop/etc... from my iPad.

I hope to get videos of the other songs in the next couple days.

Thanks to everyone who helped me along this adventure.   It's been a lot of fun to get there.   
Daniel Kulp -


Very impressive for your first Halloween Show!

Tell me about those gravestones... incans/LEDs/RGB?  Did you modify store bought or make your own?

Which sequencing software did you use for the mouth synchronization?

I think it's cool that all the neighborhood kids were enjoying/dancing to your work!

Halloween is tricky for me when it comes to song selection.  I enjoy scaring older kids, but also want the house to be inviting for the younger kids.  This was a great choice as it's as "interactive" as a display can be for your target audience.

Great job!


The gravestones, the MegaPumpkin, and the little Pumpkin bunch are all from, painted, and then 5mm LED's individually stuck in, soldered, limiting resistors added, etc...  to run at 24V DC.     Much of the details I posted to:

Sequencing: All the sequencing was done in HLS. However, I used xLights to convert them all to fseq files.  (keep in mind, I wrote the import filter to read the hlsIdata files into xLights specifically for this use case).   I had 5 songs: It Must be Halloween, Purple People Eater, Cha Cha Slide, Monster Mash, and Ghostbusters. I also had the Porky Pig "That's all Folks" sound for the end. I stuck all the sequences in my dropbox folder:
The xLights folder in there also contains xLights conversion of all the sequences to .vix files if anyone needs them.

Pixels: the pixel strips are 12v 30/10 zip tied to 1/2" PVC. The controllers are all on the ground so to reach the roof, I DID have to add a null pixel. (SO SO SO glad I tested with the estimated cable lengths while still in the basement.  Tip #1: test everything on the ground first.)

Controllers: Most of the props out front are all controlled from a Renard Plus 32 using modified for DC current Dirk Cheap SSR's. There are two ECG-D2's in the garage converting e1.31 to Renard (and DMX for the Flood lights and MegaPumpkin). The icicles (not used in ChaChaSlide), strobes, and my "Tune To" sign are controlled from a SS24. Pixels are controlled from a P12R.

My kids are 5 and 7 and their friends are all of that age.  Thus, I wasn't out to "scare" anyone.   Plus, we get 3-5 hundred trick-or-treaters each year, many very young.  Thus, I really wanted a show that is more fun than scary.   If I can get groups of those hundreds of kids to stick around and dance and smile and such, that will be great.     

I run a before school exercise program called BOKS ( at my kids school and one of the things the kids REALLY like to do is the Cha Cha Slide as a cool down.   That's why I decided it would be a good song to sequence.   I knew at least some of the kids would be familiar with it due to BOKS participation, and those that don't know it can pick it up pretty quick.   The main problem I had was the Cha Cha Slide from itunes and similar (which I did pay for) is over 7 minutes long.  Way too long for a show song.   Took a bit of finding a version that was about 4 minutes long which I then cut down a little bit more. 

Daniel Kulp -


show looks very cool!

and i understand you ran the show from the pi player?

u compiled xlights to run on the raspberry piu. it took you 5 hours to compile it on the pi but there is a compiled version available for people to try?
You did this because a few weeks ago the pi player had too much lag over a 3 minute song and you needed a reliable way to play this halloween show. but, if i read a post someplace else you tried the latest pi player with captmurdock fixes and the pi player is now almost perfect, maybe 1 frame of lag over the song?

I appreciate that you had HLS as an input to the CONVERT tab of xlights, it really made HLS to pi player conversions possible.

great job Dan!

Littleton, CO Latest releases xLights/Nutcracker Forum Facebook [url=


Yep.  This show was run with the Pi player.  However, I did have the playlist and everything all ready to go in xLights if needed.  The night before, I had tested both the xLights and FPP playlists to make sure I could drop back to xLights if I ended up having issues with FPP.   Since I was having a bunch of friends over, I really wanted a backup plan "just in case".  Didn't need it though.   As you can see from the video, the synchronization is fairly good.   Prior to the sync fixes, by the time it  got about 1/2 way through, the "beats" of the sound would have been off by a good 5-10 frames and it looked awful, completely off.    That's why I looked at getting xLights working.   With the new code, any lag is really not noticeable unless you are specifically looking for it, which obviously none of the parents and kids are doing.   

There is a binary of xLights for the Pi available at .   It does requires gstreamer and tightvnc and a few other libs installed (all apt-get able).   It's a little flakey and DON'T try to do any Nutcracker previews or anything via VNC as the VNC server cannot handle that level of updates.  All input seems to be stopped until the flashing stops, but since input is stopped, you cannot click the "stop" button.  :-)   However, the player part works great.

The HLS import actually turned out very useful for other things as well.   I did the "Porky Pig" thing VERY VERY last minute (like 5 hours before the show).  I did the sequencing of the Mega Pumpkin (to say "That's all folks!") in HLS and had HLS turn on all the static lights, but then pulled it into xLights and used xLights to add a few chases to the pixels along the roofs.   Took less than 1/2 hour to do and added a needed "closer" to the show.   Being able to combine them like that was great.  (at some point, I'll likely look into getting those chases back into HLS, but for a quick and dirty job, it was perfect)

Daniel Kulp -


Quote from: dkulp on October 21, 2013, 08:53:21 AM
  The main problem I had was the Cha Cha Slide from itunes and similar (which I did pay for) is over 7 minutes long.  Way too long for a show song.   Took a bit of finding a version that was about 4 minutes long which I then cut down a little bit more.

Thanks for all the info.  I've been so busy building and updating my Christmas show, that my Halloween show will be very similar to last year's.

As for the song length, I'm working on a tutorial on how we "professionals" (and I use that term very loosely) in radio identify cut points to shorten existing songs (something I swear by) and prepping audio to be "broadcast".

Sounds like you're fast becoming an expert.  Well done and very impressive!



That's an awesome display.  I love the interactivity with the children. :D


Loved the display.  Excellent song choices.
Σ£µ§¡¤ñ§´ - Illusions are art, for the feeling person, and it is by art, we live, if we do.
-Elizabeth Bowen-

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