I’m always getting excited and posting photos of my LED props and costumes in action. Since I create most of this stuff myself, I’m also fascinated with what’s “under the hood” and how things work.
Long exposure photos of LED props look amazing, but there’s a disconnect between what the props look like in real life and what you see in the finished images. So here’s a quick overview of what this stuff is and how it works.
See many of these props featured in my LED dance demo video.
Supernova Poi and POV props
POV stands for Persistence of Vision. This term is used for any LED prop that fools your eye into seeing a picture or pattern in the air when the prop is moved quickly through your field of vision. Here’s a wikipedia entry with more science than you ever wanted to know.
I’ve got Genesis Poi, designed by Phil Burgess — small, 3-d printed 16 pixel high poi with a Trinket inside. These are cute and light. They run for about an hour and can hold just a few images in their memory.
I have the new Supernova Poi, (how-to guide here) which are built using the same code but they’re lots bigger — they’ve got 36 LEDs per side instead of just 16, and they run on a Teensy 3.2 with a giant 2200mAh battery. That means I can fit around 150 different images on them and they’ll go all night long.
I also have my Morningstar Double Staves (guide here). These have 36 lights per side and the same battery as the poi. They are fun.. but I don’t use them much because to get the images to show you have to spin these things FAST and make really big movements.. and that’s exhausting. The poi have fewer lights overall but the form factor shows off the POV much better.
For hula hoops, I’ve left the construction to the professionals and bought two Phoenix hula hoops from SpinFX. I can upload my own images to these hoops and they’ve got scripting and choreo modes. That means I can write some code that says something like “play hearts.bmp at 1 min and 25 seconds, then play stars.bmp at 1 min and 30 seconds” and upload it to the hoops, and I can get fairly tight timing with my music to create a light show to a specific song.
These hoops are super fun, easy to upload images to, and have a good battery that lasts at least a few hours. They weren’t cheap, but they’ve definitely paid for themselves with light show bookings. SpinFX Phoenix Hoop “Firework” Video.
Finally, I have my Dotstar Belly Dance fans (guide) that run on FastLED code. This means I can put lots of different modes, but I can’t upload actual images to them. They animate and create geometric shapes when I wave them, but I can’t, for example, make them show a flame image or a heart or anything like that. They’re also a slower prop, so don’t show off the POV as well, but they’re fun and easy to use so they do get to come out to shows and play once in a while.
LED Wings & Costumes
My LED Isis Wings are probably my favorite prop. I currently have two sets of them, and each has 120 lights, running FastLED. These are not POV (they won’t make a picture if I spin fast) but they are incredibly lovely and do make some really pretty trails with long exposure photography.
I have two LED wigs, which are based on this Cyber falls tutorial. Right now they run simple code but I have plans to add a wifi-enabled controller to them so I can use them for more interesting stuff during the show.
My Snow Fairy costume is a fiber-optic dress and crown ensemble. The dress uses 3w Pixie LEDs to give the fiber optics a lot of oomph, and the headpiece is based on Christopher Simolini’s Crystal Crown design but with more stuff added so it fits better.
And I have my Venetian Color Thief cloak. As designed, it’s a masked character who “steals” colors from the world around her and the LEDs in the cloak then become that color. It’s pretty cool. However, that doesn’t work too well in a stage-show format, so I’ve been experimenting with different ways to incorporate it into our shows. It works great as a walk-around ambient character or as an intro to open the show.
The ReBoots are a lot of fun to wear with space- or future-themed shows. They have a “stomp” sensor so they react when I stomp around. Win.
And, of course… there is Mermaid Glimmer, probably my masterpiece.
All this stuff can be booked for events over at Firepixie.com. Thanks for reading!