Wireless Firefly Jar

Wireless Firefly Jar

Not all of our projects involve fancy graphics and complicated control systems; sometimes our clients come to us with a simple problem for which they just need a streamlined, elegant solution. One of these smaller projects was for Carl Underwood of Zanesville Community Theatre. Carl was working on a production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and he needed a firefly jar prop that could be wirelessly controlled from offstage.

Using a modified version of our Capulet system, we were able to give Carl 3 channels of DMX to control 3 different parameters:

  • the overall brightness of the LED “fireflies”
  • how many fireflies were active (so you could start with only a few in the jar and fade more in over time)
  • how long each firefly waited in between flashes

This parametric method allowed the fireflies to change not only in brightness but in level of activity; that way, the lighting designer could draw more or less attention to the firefly jar as needed within the scene. At full brightness and activity, the fireflies alone were enough to light the actors’ faces.

After wiring up and testing the system, we handed it off to local artist Kathryn Kelly, who turned our electronic “guts” into this gorgeous completed prop.

Carl told us that the first time they turned it on in rehearsal, the director cried. Just what we like to hear!

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