New Musical Fountain choreography software launched

Alex Doty • Apr 5, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The debut of the 2018 Grand Haven Musical Fountain is less than a month away, and now you could have a hand in helping design one of the shows.

The Musical Fountain Committee has announced the launch of a new online Create a Song choreography software, as well the date of the first show of the 2018 season — Friday, May 4.

“The new software is based off of the design of Light-o-Rama, a Christmas light show software that is widely used in that industry,” committee member Ryan Strayhorn said. “We mainly adopted the timeline concept and made it our own.”

The software is available at ghfountain.com/create-a-song.

According to Strayhorn, the software’s timeline has 10 columns — nine for lighting and one for water.

“This visual way of programming makes it fast and allows programmers to create incredible effects with both water and lighting,” he explained. 

The first fountain choreographer software was released in 2006 and was developed by engineers Brad Boyink and Jim Swarts. It allowed both seasoned programmers and new programmers to perfectly synchronize the water and lighting to the music for the fountain.

There have been many changes to the fountain since the first software was introduced, and the new lighting and water features have made the previous software obsolete. 

Strayhorn worked with fellow committee member Terry Stevens, Apex Controls and students at Grand Valley State University for nearly three years to create new software that will allow the fountain to be used to its new potential, while also making it easy for new and seasoned programmers to learn. 

“While the new software makes it easier to program the fountain, there will still be a learning curve, especially for new programmers,” Strayhorn said. “Programmers with experience of light show programming will probably spend one-half to two hours per minute of song. People who are new to programming in general could spend 2-3 hours per minute of programming.” 

The Musical Fountain runs 25-minute shows of a variety of well-known music and plays daily at dusk from Memorial Day through Labor Day, as well as Friday and Saturday nights in May and September. 

Choreographing a single three-minute song can take up to 10 hours. The Musical Fountain shows average 1,500 commands per song, with some reaching as high as 6,000 lighting and/or water commands in a single song. Some of the modern-themed shows contain as many as 17,000 water and lighting commands over a 25-minute program.

How to create, submit your own show

Think you have what it takes to create your own waterfront water show?

The Musical Fountain Committee encourages users to submit their desired song to the committee for approval before programming music. Songs are approved or disapproved within 48 hours.

From there, users can go online to the Musical Fountain website, where directions for programming a song can be found. Once a program is submitted, it can take several weeks for it to be tested on the fountain and approved.

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