God Bless the USA
The first time I heard the version of this song by Home Free I knew I wanted to put it in our show. The challenge was the fact that the song is acapella which means no music to sequence. Since the song tells a strong story I could sequence the story instead. I decided the monster matrix would show images that follow the main character in the story. The other matrices (two garage matrices, the house matrix and the icicles) would have images and words to provide the details of the story.
Author: This segment is 99% Stuart with 1% consulting from Julie
Duration: # Minutes
Song: God Bless the USA - written by Lee Greenwood
Atrist: Home Free
Since the segment has a strong patriotic message we used Red, White and Blue colors and the image of the US flag in many ways.
My Approach to Sequencing
This is the process I used to sequence to the story:
I got the Home Free version of the Lyrics
I started finding patriotic images, from the web, that would give me ideas for the segment. Note: Since the monster matrix was going to tell the main story, I looked for images that would help me create 42 pixels high by 84 pixels wide images. If you've never paid attention to image sizes, let me assure you it's not easy to find images that small with any detail.
I'm a PowerPoint freak, so I created a document and spread out the lyrics and started pasting in the images.
When I had enough images to inspire me, I used MS Paint to start creating my own images to tell the story. 100% of the images in this segment were created by me. They were inspired by things I found but none of the found images were used in the segment.
My next step was to create final PowerPoint slides with the lyrics and my images. I've provided a couple of examples of these in the images below.
Since I use XLIghts to program my matrices, I created a sequence for the song, set up the timings with the Lyrics and added my images to the associated timings.
There were some points in the song where I wanted the display to build up over many steps, so having the lyrics laid out with the images was invaluable. An example is the places where the song says "God Bless the USA" where I wanted the display to organically focus on each word; "God", "Bless", "the", "U", "S", "A" all building to finally a single screen that shows it all. To illustrate this, I've included the planning sheet in the images below.
The next step is to paste the matrix programming into Light-O-Rama and address the rest of the lights.
A lot of people share their thoughts on this song and they're all positive. Many are quick to point out that this isn't a Christmas song and I respond with "I don't have a 4th of July show" and that seems to satisfy them.
This section provides photos from past versions of this segment in the show.
This section includes images that were either used in the segment or are provided to explain something about how we designed the segment. Select an image to view a larger version and additional information.