A laser light show is not just a pile of expensive hardware operated by a technician. It is the end result of the laserist using the equipment, along with an acute visual sense and a highly developed aural sense, to create artistic entertainment in which “synaesthesia” (the coordination of sight with sound) occurs. Timothy Walsh is a multi-faceted artist with the vision to attempt this goal of synaesthesia. His aim is to create shows in which the audience is emotionally involved; and aided by his background, training and expertise, he is constantly striving to achieve this. Not only does he create beautiful images, he choreographs them to the musical accompaniment, working to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
- Some Information About Laser Light Shows
- Typical Laser Light Show Effects
- Straight Beams & Reflections
- Refraction Effects – Lumia
- Diffraction Grating Effects
- Pricing Guidelines
- Planning a Laser Light Show
is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation.
The lasers used for Laser Spectacles, Inc. light shows are gas-filled
tubes. The gas, energized by a power source, lights up like a neon
lamp, throwing off small bundles of lights called photons. Two mirrors,
inserted in the ends of the tubes facing each other, bounce the photons
back and forth, creating a laser beam.
The laser beam has three properties that make it suitable for a lightshow.
First, the light is monochromatic, or one pure color (although some lasers emit more than
one color, each is pure, not muddy). Second, laser light is collimated,
meaning that it does not spread out and diffuse like other types of
light (such as incandescent). Third, the laser beam does not lose
intensity over distance. These qualities mean that laser light is
brilliantly colored with an intense, defined beam that can be used to
make unique effects.
using custom designed projectors, image synthesizers, computers and
other equipment, uses laser light to entertain. By manipulating the
laser beam, he can project graphics onto a screen, including
spirograph-like abstract shapes, clouds, firework-type bursts or
cartoon-like animation, even names, logos and messages. What the
audience actually sees is the trail left by the beam as it traces
images on the screen. Without a screen, he can create aerial
projections, or beam Effects, using remote mirrors to bounce the
colored rays above the audience.
The primary consideration
when creating a laser light show is reliability and repeatability of
all effects. To achieve this, the lasers and projectors must not move
at all in between the performances of various laser effects. In many
cases the equipment is so heavy that once it is set up and aligned,
considerable effort is required to move it, so it is quite stable. We
once observed a show in which the operator set the laser up but did not
connect it directly to the projector. Someone could easily have come
along and tripped over the laser, destroying the alignment of all the
effects and possibly damaging some human eyes or tissue at the same
time. So, the first requirement is that the laser and projector unit be
rigidly fixed in place.
The second consideration
in creating a laser light show is that the laser beams and light be
totally contained until they emerge to perform their intended effect.
The projector should be designed so that any moveable covers fit
tightly and securely, and that all light is contained within the
projector until an effect is activated. This preserves the darkness for
a more aesthetic show, as well as keeping safety first.
The simplest laser light
show effect is basically a straight beam through the air, unmoving
and/or reflected from a mirror. To make the beam visible (since light
is invisible unless it is reflected from some object), artificial smoke
or fog is introduced into the air creating an effect called “enhanced
scattering.” The laser light will reflect from tiny particles in the
air and the light will scatter, thus making the beam visible. Another
medium used to scatter the beam and make it visible is water, like
fountains, fogs, or mists. Each water droplet will scatter the beam and
create a brilliant “sparkle” of light at that point.
Lumia are effects created
by passing the beam through, or “refracting” the beam through, a slowly
rotating transparent object, such as a piece of “shower door glass”.
The effect has been described as looking like outer space nebula or the
Northern Lights. Secondary reflections may be caused, sending the beam
into unintended areas.
Diffraction gratings have
the property of taking one laser beam and splitting it into many beams.
This is an inexpensive way to multiply the power of the laser show.
In order to arrive at a price for the laser show, the basic question to be answered is: where’s your show, indoors or outdoors? A good rule of thumb to start pricing the show is as follows:
from $ 2,500 – $10,000
from $5,500 – $20,000
Clients requiring multiple shows can get discounts if the show remains in the same location.
Outdoor shows may cost more in order to obtain the desired effects. Shows that are outdoors are usually for large crowds of people, and often are planned for areas with a lot of ambient light. Therefore, for outdoor shows it is usually required to use higher power lasers, and design a show to fit the venue size, shape, and situation. More lasers may be needed, which will add
to the total price.
Projection… If laser graphics or logos are desired, a reasonably flat and light colored surface is required to project upon. A large white concrete wall is perfect. Laser Spectacles, Inc. carries outdoor projection screens made of Phifertex, sized 30 ft. x 20 ft. These screens can be tied onto a scaffolding frame, hung from a stage, or hung from pipes raised by a boomlift. The graphics screen will be the focal point of the show. It will provide the direction in which the audience will face, for which the beam show will be designed for maximum effect.
ranges from 120V AC to 208V 3 phase depending upon the lasers used
Generally, none! Some lasers are cooled by water running through them constantly to carry off the heat produced by the lasing process. Standard garden hose fittings are preferred.
Audience Control… Laser effects are legal as long as the beams are overhead. In most cases we mount the lasers upon a sturdy scaffold to raise the beams to a safe height (3 meters). In some cases a crowd control barrier and/or security guards will be needed to keep people out of restricted areas.
Time… Indoors, six to eight hours is recommended to allow for laser show setup. Outdoors, setup and testing one or two nights before the scheduled show is recommended.