Create Better Fire Effects with Pixel Mapping

Create realistic fire effects by playing a pixel or two of video.

Most modern lighting controllers have a pixel mapping option and if you haven’t explored it, you’re missing out on a whole slew of amazing effects that would be difficult—or impossible—to program from scratch.

For example, let’s imagine we’ve got a red-green-blue LED hidden in a campfire and we want a flicker effect. Real fire changes intensity and color, so we’d need two overlapping effects using a range of colors and intensities all randomized to play back at varying speeds. Done well, it definitely looks like fire—but it’s kind of a pain.

Know what else looks like fire? A video of fire. Single out one pixel of that video, and it’ll change colors and intensities and flicker rates all on it’s own. Looking for even more subtle variations? Use two or three lights, each playing back their own pixel of fire video.

How does all this work? It varies a little depending on your software, but generally you have to:

  1. Tell the light it’s a pixel

  2. Upload a video file

  3. Drag the video around a pixel layout

  4. Turn the light on and play the video

Manuals and tutorials are out there for whatever board you’re working with. Once you know the trick, it opens up all sorts of creative possibilities!

Have a question? Comment below to get it answered.

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