It’s that time of year again… In four days, Phish will return to New York’s Madison Square Garden for their annual four-night New Year’s run. Each year, we like to celebrate the season in the days leading up to Phish at MSG with the 12 Days of Phishmas, a daily series that gives you your Phish fix and helps stoke your excitement in the days leading up to the run. In 2016, we took you back to 12 historic Phish performances at The Garden. In 2017, with the Baker’s Dozen barely out of sight in the rearview, we relived the magic and mystery of the band’s historic residency.

For years, we’ve been earmarking some of our favorite Phish interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and other cool content that we haven’t found the right occasion to share with you…until now. For 2018, we’ve made you a very special Phishmas Advent calendar to help spice up your countdown to showtime. As we approach the start of the run on the 28th, we’ll open up one panel a day and reveal a fun surprise inside—a little something sweet and Phishy once a day until the Garden party begins. No peeking! By the time we’re finished with the calendar, it will finally be time for the gift we’ve all been waiting for: Four nights of Phish on their home court at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

4 Days Til Phish – How Chris Kuroda & Phish’s Lighting Crew Map Out A Jam

On the ninth day of Phishmas… We take a peek behind the light board and see how Phish lighting designer Chris Kuroda and lighting programmer Andrew Giffin visualize their illuminations before showtime. In early 2015, Phish put out a video shows footage from a show side-by-side with a digital rendering of the light show created ahead of time. Judging by how few views it has on YouTube compared to the rest of the videos on Phish’s channel, we’re guessing most of you haven’t gotten to see it yet. But you should—for any Phish fan that’s a sucker for the lights (read: all of us), its a pretty cool way to spend 11 minutes. Plus, you get to listen to Phish while you watch. Win-win…

As the video’s opening titles note,

Some aspects of live lighting at a Phish show are composed of elements first envisioned in a simulator through a process known as pre-visualization. 

Lighting Designer Chris Kuroda, along with Lighting Programmer Andrew Giffin create the look of the show virtually, building a three-dimensional model and using it to develop the lighting sequence.

What you’re about to see is the rendering of several concepts alongside their actual live performances. The pre-visualization is on the left and the actual is on the right from Phish’s recent October 24th, 2014 performance of “Wolfman’s Brother” from San Francisco. 

Related: Phish LD Chris Kuroda Explains The Unlikely Origins Of His Lighting Design Career [Watch]

From the bright chorus beams to the subtler textures of the song’s built-in jam, Kuroda and Giffin have a plan for the whole “Wolfman’s” visual flow. As the jam moves deeper and flirts with the unknown, you can see them add in extra flourishes in real time above and beyond their mapped-out format. Check out the pre-visualization of the 10/24/14 “Wolfman’s Brother” alongside footage from the show below to see how Kuroda and Giffin’s ideas go from digital renderings to real-life rock and roll magic.

Phish Lighting: A Look At The Pre-Visualization Of A Song

[Video: Phish]

This relatively straightforward rendition of “Wolfman’s” is a great representation of how pre-planned lighting ideas come to life. Now, what we’d really like to see is another side-by-side clip of a pre-viz and an irregular, improvised jam to get a taste of when and how the lighting team abandons their plans and explores along with the band in real time. Chris and Andrew: If you’re reading this, know that we’d love a further look at the magic you work from behind the board. Can’t wait to see what surprises you have mapped out for us at MSG!

We’ll be back tomorrow to open the tenth panel on our Phishmas 2018 Advent calendar. What other Phishmas surprises are in store? You’ll just have to wait and see…

In the meantime, you can go back through the previous Phishmas surprises:

On the first day of Phishmas… The Big Daddy Show

On the second day of Phishmas… David Byrne Interviews Phish

On the third day of Phishmas… Trey Anastasio Talks Fare The Well At The New Yorker Festival 

On the fourth day of Phishmas… A Look Inside The Hoist Sessions From Cactus Films

On the fifth day of Phishmas… Mike Gordon Fascinates A Muscle Shoals Legend

On the sixth day of Phishmas… Page McConnell Chats in the Streets of London

On the seventh day of Phishmas… The Peanuts Conjure Cartoon Phish for “YEM” Dance Party 

On the eighth day of Phishmas… Trey & Mike Explain Phish to MTV on H.O.R.D.E. Tour (Swig Beer, Cross Legs)

On the ninth day of Phishmas… How Chris Kuroda & Phish’s Lighting Team Map out a Song