It's that time of year, and if you're a small business, you might be wondering how to make your retail space stand out when everyone around you seems to be investing a small fortune in their holiday displays.
The answer might be to arrange Christmas lights in a painstakingly clever way, but we recommend using your TV to make your window interactive. It's easier than you think!
We love our jobs, but we still wish we'd done this.
We're going to be honest with you. Lumo Interactive is pretty bad at Christmas. Usually we make some quick Christmas effects and schedule a last minute sale we forget to tell anyone about.
But this year will be different.
This year, we're going to teach YOU to make an affordable interactive Christmas display.
We're also promoting our friends from Pixabay, who were generous enough to give away a bunch of free images that are perfect for this tutorial. At the end of this post, you'll find a download link for pre-sized images and particles you can use to design your interactive effect.
1. What you need to make an interactive window display
Whether you want to make something for a store, a home, or your next party, chances are you already have what you need. Here's a basic overview of the equipment requirements:
- TV - the bigger the better
- Stand or table so you can set your TV in the window, facing out
- Computer - laptop or desktop (a tablet won't work)
- USB web camera - we recommend any Logitech web camera for this type of installation
- Video cable - this is normally an HDMI cable, and connects the computer to the TV
2. How to make your window interactive, in 6 steps
- Put your TV in the window, facing towards the outside
- Plug your computer into your TV using a video cable
- Plug a USB web camera into your computer
- Point the camera out the window (as close to the window as possible)
- Download and install Lumo Play software (there's a free trial)
- Launch Lumo Play - check out this Quick Start guide if you're not sure how to run software on your computer: https://www.lumoplay.com/help/knowledge-base/quick-start
If you don't want to go through the hassle of setting everything up in the window, you can just leave your TV where it is. Make sure you invite some friends to test your display!
3. How to make your interactive window Christmas-sy
The free Lumo Play demo will be enough to get you started, and to give you a chance to decide if you want to make your own Christmas effect. We've already made a bunch to get you started. (After all, we've been making them at the last minute for the last 6 years or so.)
In the last part of this post, we'll show you how to design your own effect using our Motion Maker templates.
IF YOU ARE A BUSINESS:
You'll need a paid license to use the non-demo effects, which costs $99 for a Personal license and $599 for a Pro license. If you're setting this up in a small business, you only want a single effect, and you'll be turning your computer and software on and off manually every day, you can start with a Personal license.
If you want to make something a bit more professional, you'll want to choose Lumo Play Pro because you can schedule playlists, make the system start automatically, and change your effects remotely. Pro is a great choice if you want your window display to automatically cycle through a scheduled playlist of multiple effects.
IF YOU'RE DOING THIS AT HOME, READ THIS:
If you're putting this in you window at home, we'll give you any Christmas effect you want for free if you email us a picture of your home installation. Including custom effects you make yourself.
4. Design your own custom Christmas effect in 3 simple steps
We're going to walk you through one of the simpler Motion Maker template effects, so you can learn the interface. Once you understand how it works, feel free to try any other template you like.
All Motion Maker effects cost $59 to download, but they are free to create, so you can practice risk-free. (Another advantage of the Lumo Play Pro license is that you can download demo versions of the Motion Maker effects you create without having to pay, so you can test them in your installation before your buy them.)
NOTE: Motion Maker tools won't work from your phone or tablet - you'll need to be on a computer and your browser will need to have Flash enabled.
BONUS NERD NOTE: We know Flash sucks - we're replacing it with Web GL really soon.
Before you begin, download the folder of images provided at the bottom of this post.
STEP 1: Go to the Frosted Window template. It looks like this. On the left is your settings, and on the right is a live preview of your effect. You can simulate the effect of motion by moving your cursor over the preview area.
STEP 2: Click 'Background' and upload an image. The images provided in the folder below are already the right size and format. Every time you upload an image to a template, there will be a note about the maximum size your image is allowed to be.
STEP 3: Once you've chosen your background image, click the blue area in the left panel to go back to the main design panel and select 'Settings'. This is where you can change the way the interaction behaves. All changes are made in real-time so you can test them with your mouse. Try experimenting with the size of the snowflakes, and the speed the frost reappears. Change the gravity setting to make the snow fall faster, or adjust the wind to make it blow to the side.
Once you're happy with the settings, go back to the design panel, give your effect a name, and click Save.
Please tell us if you make something!
As you can probably tell, we love you, but we don't want to make Christmas things. However, we will give you free stuff if you share your project with us, because we get super excited when other people make things.
The following folder includes background images and particle images you can use in many of the templates to create your own custom effects.