John Storms thunders upon the holiday festivities with his amazing light displays played to music. In 1999 John Storms began creating light displays on his own home just outside of Austin, Texas. Since then he has become well known for his videos showcasing his hours long light shows dancing along to seasonal songs and popular music.
Over 3.7 million YouTube viewers can attest to the amazing works provided by the light display artist, John Storms
John Storms has become a holiday sensation. His listentoyourlights YouTube videos have gone viral as his many followers watch in awe of the delightful displays of lights that dance in tune to the ongoing music he incorporates into his designs. Among examples of the popular videos are his Gangnam Style and Angry Birds renditions, with up to 3.7 million views.
Videos of his displays have been featured on national and local media outlets including the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The O’Reilly Factor, The Wendy Williams Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and more.
This year, Storm has incorporated the new Outdoor Command Brand Hooks into setting up his displays.
3M Command now has a product line made specifically to assist in outdoor decorating. The products available to purchase include "clear window hooks, decorative hooks and light clips that are equipped with new water- and UV-resistant adhesive strips, specially formulated to withstand weather conditions including rain, snow and extreme temperatures (-20F to 125F). The hooks and clips hold strongly to outdoor windows, siding, gutters, doors and other smooth surfaces. And, like all Command Brand Products, they remove cleanly without damaging surfaces".
I was very fortunate to have a chance to speak with John Storms, the artistic display light genius.
John Storms' is a cheerful man who enjoys what he does is more than eager to spread the fun of light displays by offering his knowledge and tips to assist anyone in creating their own beautiful display, no matter how mega or mini.
I asked John if the magnificent displays is his business or if he worked somewhere else.
Although John clearly has a passion for setting up his light displays and has been asked to set up displays around the world he is quick to explain how he loves working his day to day job at Nvidia as software manager specifically working on Tegra chip used for mobile devices. New this year he is utilizing the high end android device called "The Shield" by Nvidia to program his light show; an Android pad that allows him to control his lights remotely.
How can he not love his job working with software in video making graphical experiences, that grew from his hobby of his love with Christmas lights.
I questioned John about what triggered his passion for decorating his home for the holidays.
He lovingly told me how it began when he was a kid watching his Mom climbing up on roof to put up a lovely display of lights.
Of course I wanted to know what inspired John to start doing his huge mega displays?
It all started with John viewing a YouTube video with a mega display. In the beginning of 2010 his wife and he decided to have a weight loss challenge in which he rewarded himself with every 10 lbs lost with another piece to add to his dream show. By the holidays he had lost his weight and gained materials needed to set up his first mega light display complete with music.
I asked John to give some tips for those who are apartment dwellers who want to mount a mini show of their own.
Use the same principle of staying repetitious for a beautiful display no matter how small. "Go with your taste. Simple or all out"
- The Command products are perfect for apartments since they can be removed without any damage.
- Net lights over railings. Make sure they are zip tied.
- Balcony presentations of candy canes
- Mount 3D stars; Just one star is great effect
Following are tips and tricks generously offered by John to me for people who want to do their own lighting display, small or mega.
Scour the stores for sales on lights to stock up.
- Black Friday has deals and find clearances especially after Holidays. Take the shopping cart and grab anything you spy that you may want and throw into cart before others have a chance to grab them up first. Sneak off to a corner of the store to sift through your finds and decide what you want to buy and put anything else back on the shelves.
Keep a hefty stock of your favorite lights and decorations.
- Buy two or more so you have a backup when lights go out or are discontinued.
Double up on high hanging lights.
- When placing icicle lights and high up lights double up with twist ties so that if one row burns out there will not be a noticeable
Inexpensive LEDs will burn out with moisture.
- Purchase LEDs sealed bulbs; they are a bit more expensive but will last longer.
Decorating traditions should not take away from important family time. Quick set up is the key "Make decorating a family project and keep the install to a reasonable time in order to keep the holiday spirit going"
- Be proactive and prepared for an easy and setup of lights and decor. Have hooks ready placed in eaves of roof prepared to fasten decor and hang lights in the future.
Utilize the 3M Command new outdoor hooks.
- The hooks are made to stay and remove without harming any surfaces. The new outdoor Command hooks are made to work specifically in outdoor weather to hang wreaths, lights and other holiday trimmings.
Repetition and themes make the best displays.
- Keep either colored lights or single colored lights, animal displays. When mixed with too many different objects the display can look tacky. A simple yard filled with lighted deer will look beautiful.
John happily told me his secret tips on how he makes his own decorating time easier and quicker.
John starts placing lights by setting up a Halloween display. In his two huge trees in front of his house he hangs 300 orange lights in each tree while also sneaking in 2600 additional strings of holiday lights in each tree and wraps the trees' trunks with more lights.. The neighbors are welcomed with a beautiful display of just the orange lights for the trick or treat holiday fun.
When it is time to decorate with the entire shebang John takes one day to do the front of his house and another day to decorate the yard. With a year of careful organization John can now accomplish his wonderful display in two weekends plus sneaking some stuff out beginning with Halloween.
John gave me good safety tips to pass on as well.
Stay off roof
- The roof is dangerous - If you have a high or steep pitched roof hire someone to place the high stuff to prevent injury. Many landscaping companies offer this service.
Make sure extension cord amps can handle display.
- Old fashioned incandescent lights use a lot of amperage; be careful of extension cords getting too hot and melting creating a fire hazard. LED lights save electricity and very rarely go over amps on an extension cord and have the added benefit of saving a lot of money; "pennies vs. thousands"
Prevent electrical shocks.
- Make sure you have GFCI outlets just as you have in kitchen or bath to prevent shocks from electrical current.
After the holidays is more work that continues through the year to prepare for the next holiday display.
As John explains the mega display does not magically happen. It takes work during the year to organize in order to lead up to an amazing show.
- Immediately after the holiday is the process of taking everything down and fixing anything that stopped working before safely packing away.
- Test out any new after holiday clearance buys to make sure they are working before putting away for the next holiday display.
- Around March technological components come on sale making it the best time to purchase technology needed for the mega display.
- Also during the year is the process of choosing songs that the lights will dance to. When setting up the display the songs tend to take 4 to six hours for John to program.
John adds a wonderful sense of humor while working on and presenting his displays of love.
It is clear that John Storms' favorite holiday movie is National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" speaking to me about having fun dressing up and emulating the movies' patriarch, Clark Griswold as he sets up the lights and plays his yearly shows for neighbors. John doesn't actually keep track of his light inventory. He states 25,000 because that's what Clark had on his house; John actually uses many more.
Keeping with the holiday spirit John Storms gave me a wonderful idea for those difficult to shop for; "Lights and decoration make good gifts as well". Storms' aptly named website, Listen to our Lights is not only a wonderful place to view his fun displays but also serves as a platform for John to offer free how-to's and links for those wishing to fashion their own light displays to wow the neighborhood.
Imagine retooling your very own light show not only for the winter holidays but to celebrate the seasons and holidays year round. Turn up the music, flick on the light show and never be afraid to dance!
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