Mark Matamoros ITP Blog

ITP Courses

Fall 2019

Spring 2020

Big LEDs

Week 2: LED Strip Wiring and Programming. February 17, 2020.


The second week entailed information pertaining to the handling of LED strips in conjuction with the mapping software MadMapper. Furthermore, details regarding LED wiring, power management, and ethernet connection were delivered within lecture.

Regarding our assignment, groups-of-three students were each tasked to construct a small rig, controlling an LED strip with MadMapper.


In accordance with the lecture and provided tutorial video, our group began our assignment with all wiring pertaining to the assignment. It must be noted that we were required to utilize an DMXKing LeDMX4 Pro as the communicator between MadMapper and the LEDs.

To begin, we stripped the outer cabling of an AC power cable, leaving the neutral, ground, and lead wires available. Thereafter, these independent wires were stripped and connected to their respective inputs to a MEAN WELL LRS-200-5, a power supply that converts AC to DC. Then, the supply's DC connections were wired to the LeDMX4 power ports. And lastly, the LED strip's main and auxilliary wires were respectively connected to the LeDMX4's ouput port and MEAN WELL power supply.

Endmill set in collet Basswood taped to base plate
Basswood taped to base plate

We then began the process of connecting the LEDs to the computer, attempting to interface the LeDMX4 to a Macbook Pro via ethernet cable. Upon connecting the former to the latter, we launched OSX's Network and established a manual connection to the external board. Thereafter, we opened DMXKing's eDMX Configuration software, where we selected the LeDMX4 and set the output port, LED count, and universe for our strip.

Endmill set in collet Basswood taped to base plate

Next, we opened up MadMapper and configured the DMX output for the strip (sACN and IP address). Then, we selected the MadLight page and added a fixture for the strip. On the left side of the GUI, we selected Generic - Pixel RGB and edited this setup to contain 300 LEDs. Afterwards, we adjusted the fixture to thinly spread across the image in the center of the GUI.

Basswood taped to base plate

Lastly, we began playing around with various backgroud visuals for experimentation.

Endmill set in collet Basswood taped to base plate

It must be noted that we were only able to utilize the MadMapper software in demo mode on my personal Macbook, as the ITP production Macbooks were unable to be utilized with a USB to ethernet converter. I am under the assumption that a driver needed to be installed for that component, and only the adminstrator would be able to handle that installation.

Week 1: Lighting Design Analysis. February 10, 2020.


For the opening week, we students were tasked to describe a lighting design work of personal interest. Since I have been a fan of Nine Inch Nails' live productions, I have chosen to describe the opening song Copy of A from the Tension Tour in 2013. I was fortunate that a short drive from San Diego to Los Angeles allowed me to view this particular taping at the Staples Center.


For this opening song, each performer on stage had a dedicated cluster of lighting fixtures, where each of these clusters appeared to contain nine LED grid panels. Regarding location, each cluster was hung above the performer in a fixed position, granting top lighting to the artists in a directional manner. Furthermore, the clusters were flown (for this particular piece) in a low-hanging position, giving a clausterphobic effect. With this setup, performer lighting pertained to the upper areas of each artists' body.

No other lighting fixtures were active within this opening song (except during the song's closing beat), where the rest of the stage was completely blacked out. This design allowed all performers, with exception to the drummer, to dismiss their presence at moments during the song where they were not actively playing.

Regarding the lighting quality, the light was diffused through the utilization of a heavy haze. While this softly spread the light on the upper sections of the body, it also appeared to create a visual effect similar to a stylized view of a sewer area located immediately below a street. Furthermore, the lighting fixtures granted a "grated" appearance, similar to the metal, gridded panels located on sidewalks. Perhaps this choice in design could be described as a mysterious, underground location.

The intensity of light varied throughout the performance, where the perfomers' featured musical moments were strongly emphasized with intenser lighting, while the other performers were softly lit. Regarding color, amber and yellow tones were utilized throughout the peformance, where subtle shifts from warm to less warm occured in a parallel manner to mellow moments and aggressive moments. Furthermore, light strobing was also utilized during the most musically aggressive moments, granting a synonymous chaotic effect.

It must be noted that the beginning of the song utilized a front black curtain, granting a strong reveal shortly after the piece began. Furthermore, the ending of the song utilized a strong flash of back lighting, followed with a complete blackout, solidifying the end of the song.