NVIDIA Engineer Serves Up Holiday Lights, Gangnam Style

by Brian Caulfield

Rely on someone at NVIDIA to make it happen: a dazzling holiday light show set to Korean group PSY’s ubiquitous hit, Gangnam Style. A video of the annual light show put on by John Storms, a compiler verification engineer who works out of NVIDIA’s Austin, Texas office, has grabbed more than 1.2 million viewers on YouTube after being posted last week.

Clark Griswold, the bumbling patriarch of the Griswold clan portrayed in the 1989 classic “Christmas Vacation,” has nothing on Storms. The NVIDIA compiler verification engineer is everything Griswold is not: meticulous, energy-efficient, safety-conscious, and considerate of the neighbors. While Griswold infamously put up 25,000 energy-sucking incandescent lights, practically blinding the couple next door, Storms is more careful.

Rather than clambering about perilously on his roof, Storms hired a crew of pros to help put up any lights more than 15 feet from the ground. He used software from Light-O-Rama to choreograph his displays. Storms even operates a small FM transmitter so people driving by his home can listen to the music that accompanies the light show.

And Storms is energy efficient, too: after measuring the electricity consumed by his displays, he estimates it costs him only $15 to run his array of hyper-efficient LED lights for the months of November and December. “Having made a career out of quality I like everything to be perfect, so this is somewhat medicating for a mild OCD problem,” Storms says. “This I can control and make perfect.”

Storms even purchased his new home, in Cedar Park, Texas, with an eye for putting on his annual light show. The home’s symmetrical shape forms the perfect backdrop, there are no neighbors directly across from his home, and it’s far from any traffic lights to avoid road safety problems.

The annual show has become a tradition for Storms (see “Inner Geek: Electric (Holiday) Light Orchestra”). It’s gotten Storms national attention over the years, although his wife and children aren’t letting it get to his head. “If I’m like ‘Hey kids, look we’re on Good Morning America,’ they’re like ‘Whatever, Dad.'”

The kids were more impressed by a display synched to the song “Revenge,” featured on the videogame “Minecraft.” They’re big fans. And for all his precision, Storms couldn’t resist a hat tip to the Griswolds. In addition to light shows featuring “Gangam Style,” Storms has also synched up a portion of his annual show to the theme song from “Christmas Vacation.”