Oh boy. Marriage. I tried to figure out what I wanted to do, a funny speech? A big gift? Organising our honeymoon? Getting a big metal band to play for us? But no. It needed to be something close to myself, something that expressed everything that is me. And this blog is the (well quite practical) story of getting that to reality!
The Spark of Inspiration
I've always been a tech enthusiast, a music lover, and a fan of immersive experiences. But it was a Coldplay concert that truly ignited the spark. The crowd was not just an audience; we were part of the show, our wristbands lighting up in sync with the music. I looked around and thought, "Why not bring this magic to my own life event?" And what better occasion than my wedding?
The Hardware: Building Blocks of Magic
Creating this experience wasn't just about the idea; it was about the execution. Here's what you'll need to recreate the magic:
- LED Wristbands: The stars of the show.
- DMX RF receiver: To be able to communicate with the wristbands
- Eurolite USB-DMX512-Interface : To connect the RF receiver with my computer, this should work regardless of mac or PC.
There are several technologies that can be used to control armbands, see below for a few examples:
In my case I've chosen RF to control the armbands, and using DMX to control them. If you'd like to order the wristbands, let me know, I'm happy to share my contacts.
Bonus: I've also ordered several other RF devices, including balloons and keychains. They're fun little gadgets that allow some extra flashy-ness in the show!
The Software: Fusing Light and Sound
The hardware is only as good as the software driving it. Here's what I used:
- Adobe audition: I've used audition to mix all of our preferred music together, controlling pitch and (trying to) do beatmixing. It must be able to do this a lot easier and possibly even in a live environment, but I enjoyed the process using Audition and, well, it worked!
Lightkey: This software was the backbone of the lightshow. It allowed me to control the lighting elements with ease, it's super easy to control and to get to know. I've used the Eurolite USB-DMX512-Interface to connect Lightkey to the DMX-RF receiver and this worked flawlessly.
Ableton Live 11: Music is the soul of any event. Ableton helped me sync the lights with the beats, creating a seamless experience. Ableton isn't easy to get to know, setting up the MIDI connection with lightkey also is not that easy. Take your time, breathe, do some youtube research!
The Fusion: Making It All Come Together
The real magic happened when the hardware and software worked in harmony.
I only had a few devices to test with at home, I decided to work with five channels and three 'groups' of elements to light up:
- Bride/groom (wristbands) - idea was to be able to emphasise certain elements in the music to find the bridge/groom on the dance floor
- Either dim all other groups or
- Have a different color/effect (either contrasting or extending the color frame), e.g. when trying to emulate fire they would be red, the other groups orange (or the other way around)
- Close friends/family/witnesses
- They were also wearing keychains, next to wristbands
- Again using contrasts, different effects or just as a second group in an effect chain
- the "rest", it's a huge group of people so they will be very visible – an own channel of wristbands and the balloons were part of this.
The Big Day: A Symphony of Light and Love
As the music played and the lights danced, I looked around at our guests—lit up, both literally and figuratively. Actually seeing the test setup of 5 devices working on 200 – really something magical! It was a moment of pure joy, a personal concert experience for our closest friends and family.
Conclusion: Lighting Up the Future
This project was a labor of love, a fusion of tech and emotion. And it's just the beginning. With the right tools and a bit of imagination, the possibilities are endless.
Watch my entire video below in case you want to learn a bit more about the process of getting towards the end result:
Do know that it took me at least 40 hours to create the musical mix, and at least double the amount to sync up the music with the lights (and all the steps in between).
And I really was super happy with the end result!