Q: What kind of beam effects can I see at laser shows?
A:There are two main types of beam effects, static and dynamic. Static beams are usually turned on an off and may be bounced from mirrors to create a beam matrix or sculpture in the air. Dynamic beam effects are moving beams that may include sheets, fans, cones or blades of light moving above and through the audience.
Q: Why don't I see a lot of beam effects at some shows?
A: Some shows are designed to be graphics and animation intensive and some shows are designed to have lots of beam effects. Beam effects take more laser power to project so some venues do not use them since their lasers are not powerful enough. I n other cases the venue does not have the clearances or permits needed for safe projection of beam effects.
Q: When you see laser animations at shows do they just scan the pictures in ?
A: In traditional character animation each picture has to be individually hand drawn (digitised) usually from artwork prepared by an animator. The images (frames) are then played back in rapid succession creating the illusion of movement just like a classic Disney movie or Saturday morning cartoon. Here are some laser frames of a dancing man - you can see the differences from frame to frame (also see Laser Graphics Systems).
Q: Are there other kinds of laser animations?
A: There are sequential frame animations and object animation, logo shows, text. In sequential frame animation, a sequence of slightly different frames is projected giving the illusion of a character moving just like in a cartoon. In object animation, the images on the screen are created by the computer moving or rotating an object. An example would be a company logo spinning around. The computer can add perspective or perform line removal to give the illusion that the 2D image projected onto the screen is a 3D object.
Q: Can I put my hand into a laser beam at a show?
A:Generally, NO! You can safely put your hands into any beams that are scanned onto the audience as they are dynamic and the power levels are safe. Static beams (unmoving beams) can be dangerous and can cause burns or ignition of clothing - never put you hand into a static laser beam. You should never attempt to reflect a laser beam with a mirror or watch crystal as this may direct it into someone else's eyes causing vision damage.
Q: Do you have to be licensed to do laser shows?
A: The rules and regulations on public laser shows and displays different from country to country although most countries follow the IEC-825 regulations. If you plan to perform a public laser show, check with the authorities having jurisdiction over radiation protection and health in your area.
Q: How do they control the colours of the laser in shows?
A: The simplest form of colour control is called a colour box. This uses dichroic filters mounted on actuator arms to select one of 7 possible colours combinations (red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta and white) by subtractive colour. In full colour displays, an acousto-optic device called a is used to control the brightness of each line allowing for a full spectrum of projected colours by additive colour.