Close Encounters lights

I was just thinking the other day how cool it would be to re-enact the Close Encounters “Communicating” segment: Have a general background motion, and among that, bursts of random-colored lights in random spots in response to music (or certain colors for certain frequencies.) Is something like this possible?

Totally possible. In fact, I’ll tackle that as my first sound responsive project. It’ll be perfect for a tutorial.


If I may ask, please place comments in your coding so I can learn how it’s done. Thanks! :smiley:


Yes, I’ll make a tutorial, documented code, etc.

Notes for the project will go here:


Start with the tone. (Pinkish-red) – D

Up a full tone. (Orange) – E

Down a major third. (Purple) – C

Down an octave. (Yellow) – C (an octave lower)

Up a perfect fifth. (White) – G

So I already had a discussion with Ben about how the frequency bins work, so we’ll see if I can make it do this. If not, it’ll be a guide for how to approximate it, and “Look like it”

I’ll build the code soon, and likely will turn it into a full project. Either a UFO (of course), or maybe they’ll be in the cloud I’m building. The cloud will definitely be big enough to hide a UFO.

After looking at the detail of the original model

I don’t think I want to build that UFO, I wouldn’t do it justice. So the cloud approach is going to work for me. (Trying to envision the project helps me)

The ship lights up mostly in the bottom but also elsewhere. And it’s got nifty KITT style drifty bits when it’s not getting sound.

The scientist built sound board is also interesting but it’s just a color sound board, the UFO side is more visually interesting. I suspect I’ll implement both, as I can see someone might want to build a Devil’s tower UFO landing zone, right?

Wow, I’ve created a monster, haven’t I? LOL

I just thought it would be cool to have the strip going around my back patio, or along a wall, and reacting to music much like the strip did so in the film. But it sounds like you’re going to knock this sucker out of the park!

To be fair, I was already planning the cloud, and a variety of patterns for it, including weather reporting, and sound responsiveness was already planned. So adding a pattern that emulates Close Encounters as if a UFO were inside the cloud is just a good idea.

I actually have a lot of plans for projects, many started, and this winter I plan on doing a lot of LED stuff. Thanks for the inspiration though.


This sounds like a really cool idea. Is this going to be in your house?

Yeah, I have the sort of home where big LED art pieces fit in well.

Cool!!! BTW you also have high res info on the loudest detected frequency.
maxFrequency and maxFrequencyMagnitude - detects the strongest tones with resolution of about 39Hz

It only detects one note at a time, so if you need parallel notes the frequency data is the best bet, though may not have the resolution to get specific notes (its meant more for a band of frequencies).

I haven’t had time to make it, but I though it would be cool to make a game where you had to sing or whistle at specific tones to unlock something.

1 Like

I’ve been wanting to make a “weather” cloud… thunder cloud… react to weather, time of day, etc… so many project ideas :slight_smile: instead I started with an infinity cube… really should ahve started with the cloud idea :slight_smile:

I already have the paper lanterns, and the lights, and so on… and I started some infinity shapes too :slight_smile:

1 Like

or maybe…


I don’t know how far you’ve gotten on this, but as I’ve been going through the patterns, I noticed that “Rainbow Melt” gives a nice background similar to the mother ship.

1 Like