15-year old designs 45 minute holiday light show using wysiwyg
Amber Long January 6, 2021

Most 15-year olds we all know are asking for new video games for Christmas and playing video games in their free time.  But Campbell Shaw is not your ordinary 15-year-old.  At a very young age, he became obsessed with lighting because it allows one to create a world of magic with lighting and tell stories.  So, this year Christmas came early in August for Campbell when he received his wysiwyg Educational license, and he dedicated his free time to learn wysiwyg… and by early December, his Christmas gift was now giving back to his neighborhood!

“I was approached by my neighbor who has seen my past work to design a display for his house. That was all he requested so I decided to make it a show. My design inspiration came from the SAKS 5th Avenue light display in NYC that I saw last Thanksgiving because of the tastefulness in such a massive scale display. I really liked how it was a lot, but not too much. I also thought the display would provide a safe, fun way for people to celebrate the holidays. A big part of the design of the show was to take my experience in theatrical lighting and use it to make a Christmas light show that would be tastefully designed.

Joining wysiwyg’s Educational Program has helped me so much, it allowed me to use software that would otherwise be inaccessible and then, learn it. This was the first show I have used it on, and it has been a very positive experience, allowing me to create a model and program my show without having to sit out in the cold.

My process started by visualizing in my head what I wanted, and where I wanted to put lights. In the original brainstorm, I had the lights along all the rooflines of the house but not hanging off of the tree. After that I went over to my neighbor’s house with my laser measurement device to take all the dimensions of the house and the yard to make a 3D model of it.

Since I started using WYSIWYG back in August, I find it to be a much better solution because of the all-in-one nature of the software. Even though I did not draft in WYG I found it very nice to be able to change a mode on WYG whenever I wanted to go and make edits to my design no exporting required. I also found the graphic quality to be much better on mid-range computing hardware.

After the 3D modeling was finished, I reached out to my mentor for a recommendation for lights because I had not purchased commercial pixel Christmas lights. He recommended a company called Minleon USA. I reached out to them for a quote on their lights. After I got the quote, I opened a spreadsheet and the light spec sheets and figured out how many lights I could get for our budget. With that info in mind, I created a couple of different designs. At this point I transferred my 3D model over to WYG to play around with the layout and number of lights. I was also just starting out with WYG at this point, so Stan Kaye, Professor and Graduate Design and Production Coordinator for the University of Florida – School of Theater and Dance, very kindly gave me some lessons.

At the start of the project, I thought I was going to use Eos with Qlab to run the show but at this point I figured out that would not be practical in the budget. I decided to use a wonderful DMX recorder software from Jack Guy Custom Products to run the show while I used my personal Eos Nomad key to program. After that came the ordering, programming, and hanging the lights.

Along the way I did have some trouble.

When I started the display, being an early adopter of the DMX recorder, there were some bugs that I had to work with the developer to resolve. After those were fixed, the DMX recorder proved to be a very good choice. WYG saved me tons of time in setup because I was able to see in advance what the lights were going to react to Art-Net. I really liked being able to lay out the strands on WYG before I programmed a single thing – I knew what the signal path was going to be and was able to preview and solve any issues that might come up.

An interesting story from the show is that my house is across the street from the house where I designed the lights so I can see the show out of my bedroom window. I was able to connect to the computer in their house using remote access software and test the lights from my own desk.

While the show was running one night, I heard honking down on the street, so I went out and saw people with their heads out of their car sunroof dancing around. After each song finished it would be met with an applause of honking. Most of the neighborhood really enjoyed it, I saw many people down on the street watching it dancing around and enjoying the show.

It is a great feeling to bring lights and colors to the neighborhood in times of lockdowns and social distancing. Thank you CAST for supporting us students.”

Here at CAST, we love seeing work like Campbell’s. It is wonderful to watch young designers make their dreams come true by taking advantage of the Educational Program we offer.

” We are happy to support up and coming lighting designers with wysiwyg Educational product, which was exactly CAST’s goal with this program for students! It is so exciting to see Campbell pick up WYSIWYG and within a couple of months use it to design and pre-program his 45-minute Christmas lighting show! I’m confident we will be seeing many more of Campbell’s lighting shows in the years to come.” – Dino Mazza, VP Product, CAST Software.

But for now, here is Campbell’s most recent work: 

You can learn more about the Educational Program offered by CAST here: https://cast-soft.com/educational-program/“>https://cast-soft.com/educational-program/