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Laser F/X On-line Newsletter - Special Reports

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Laser F/X '99 logo

Monday, May 31 1999

Seminar Day

    Breakfast was the first thing on the agenda and everyone had a chance to talk about the demonstration of the new Cambridge galvos at the Brewster Awards. The first event of the day was the "What's New" Seminar.

Seminar 1

Patrick Murphy showed and described four new items Pangolin Laser Systems was first up. Patrick Murphy showed and described four new items:
  • Lasershow Performer, the lighted console which works with the new Live! Software from Pangolin to give real-time selection of pre-programmed effects as well as control of such parameters as zoom and brightness.
  • The C10 geometric and colour correction box. It has the common geometric corrections, plus individual colour corrections for each PCAOM channel. In addition, it has window masking so you can set areas for audience scanning where the beam intensity can be reduced or eliminated. The C10 is made by Laser System Europe and Pangolin is the North and South American distributor.
  • The next-generation Lasershow Designer board. This successor to the QuadMod fits in a PCI slot, and allows much higher scanning speeds and more software features than the current QuadMod. Patrick indicated the beta test units would be sent out in a few months, with end-user shipments before the ILDA meeting in November.
  • Special tuning and component adjustments to standard Cambridge 6800 scanner systems, which let them run at a true ILDA 50K speed (circle remains touching the square at 50,000 PPS, at a scan angle of 7 degrees). The Pangolin modification was demonstrated at length so the conference attendees could have no doubt that the scanners met specifications.
Dirk Bauer of MediaLas in Germany then presented the ILDA award-winning 30K Catweazle LC scanners and the CatSafe scan fail detection board.
  • The 30K Catweazle LC scanners faithfully reproduce the ILDA test pattern at 30K and will soon be available with mirrors to handle laser powers up to 5 watts.
  • The CatSafe board continuously monitors the input signal and the position of the scanners and compares them to detect a scanner failure. In the event of a scan failure, the board kills the output to the PCAOM preventing an unscanned beam from being projected.
Dirk Bauer of MediaLas in Germany
Debuit of the CTI 6210 scanners New Method Lasers then presented the new Cambridge 6210 scanners using one of their Micro YAG lasers.
  • Bob Ash showed a special program called the "Cambridge Torture Rack" which is capable of outputting points at speeds up to 100K. While the images displayed were very sharp and flicker free, the ILDA Test Pattern could only be displayed at about 48K before the circle began to pull away form the inside of the square [see Scanner Wars page for more details].

Rick Gephardt from Laser Illusions gave a brief outline of the new X-29 Turbo board.

  • This is a half-length ISA card is designed to be placed in a slot adjacent to the output board for the X-29 and Full-Auto software. Using cables supplied by Laser Illusions, the outputs from the NML interface card are connected to the Turbo board. The board buffers and decodes all of the colour control signals and presents them as a fully compliant, balanced line signal on the ILDA standard DB25 connector. An additional DB9 connector outputs eight opto-isolated, level shifted signals provided by the interface board for beam table control.
Richard Gonsalves (on left in photo) of RAGe Media showed the beta version of his new image converter software.
  • This package due for release later this summer converts a variety of popular computer graphics files such as CAD and bitmap files to ILDA frames. The program also converts text typed into a box to a laser version of any TrueType font resident on your system and can import plain .txt files for conversion.
    No additional hardware is required for the converter which can run on any computer making it ideal for use in the studio for graphics conversion without tying up your laser system.
Richard Gonsalves (on left in photo)

Seminar 2

an Kriland of AB Obscura Magica Productions in Sweden

Jan Kriland

The second seminar was the Creative Seminar featuring Jan Kriland of AB Obscura Magica Productions in Sweden. Jan gave a spellbinding presentation with images of some of his work shown form computer. He covered some of his most interesting and artistic works and also talked about how sound was a big influence in his show and how he might work for up to three weeks to get just the right sound for his presentation. He also gave as an interesting inside look at his "Job Opera" show in Germany. This show involved projecting stereoscopic images 60 meters long by 40 meters high onto a special screen on the opposite side of a river from the grounds of the opera house where the audience was located.
Starting with photos of himself and his crew struggling through muddy farmers fields to erect a test screen for the proof testing of the concept to images from the final production.
Many technical problems had to be overcome including locating the right type of polarisation-preserving paint for the stereoscopic 3D images, The tremendous throw distance involved also had to be tested to insure that the audience would see the images in 3D with the glasses distributed at the event. The final show included a mammoth multi-channel sound system (flown from cranes on the riverbank), live musicians, singers and beam effects lasers as well as the huge stereoscopic 3D images.

Jan also gave us a preview of his upcoming project the "Water Festival". For nine nights the centre of Stockholm will be the site of large (60 X 40 meter) stereoscopic 3D laser projections, beam effects lasers, smoke effects and other special effects for an estimated audience of 50,000 people per night.

Lunch Buffet

Seminar 3 - A & B

After lunch, laserists broke into two groups for the afternoon seminars. The first was the Scanning Systems seminar where Dirk went into more details on his 30K scanners and the CatSafe scan fail detection board. The simple-to-implement CatSafe board works with Catweazle scanners or CTI 6800 scanners and continuously monitors the position of the galvos using an on-board computer. In the event that either of the scanners should fail to respond, the board extinguishes the colour control signals to the PCAOM to prevent an unscanned beam from being projected.

Martina Casey and Giovanni Aquino of Cambridge Technology then presented the new 6210 galvos. They said these galvos are smaller and lighter weight than the 6800HP scanners and should be significantly faster. They were demonstrated doing 48K on the ILDA Test Pattern, but the expectation is that with a bit more work, they will soon reach 60K. Martina Casey and Giovanni Aquino of Cambridge Technology presents the 6210 galvos
Ian Wood In the parallel seminar, Ian Wood, a recent Sheraton College multi-media graduate, presented tips and techniques for marketing using videos and web pages. Ian started by showing the Star Wars Episode 1 trailer and then doing an analysis of how the video was put together with shots and sequences of various lengths to draw the viewer's attention and promote the movie. He also showed other video clips from companies marketing high-tech products to demonstrate how they showed the product in action and how they made use of "talking head' segments.
Next Ian presented some tips for web page design and navigation, showing both good and bad examples of various websites. He then moved on to some of the newer techniques such as Shockwave that are being used to enhance web sites and deliver the marketing message.

The afternoon break featured milk, chocolate milk, and a variety of freshly baked cookies. The milk and cookies break was sponsored by FirstLight Laser Productions.

Seminar 4 - A & B

After the afternoon break, two parallel seminars were again offered. The first was an airspace and safety update featuring James H. Maurstad of Transport Canada and Patrick Murphy, ILDA Airspace Issues Coordinator. James is one of the government officials responsible for creating and implementing regulations for the use of lasers in outdoor shows where they may present a hazard to aircraft. This was a unique opportunity for laserists to hear directly from a government regulator who is tasked with keeping the sky safe for aviation and who also wants to keep the laserists on the ground in business. James H. Maurstad of Transport Canada

The other parallel seminar was the second half of the Marketing Workshop with L. Michael Roberts covering ways of finding shows and keeping customers happy. Michael discussed the regular means of promotion such as targeted mailing and cold calling. Also presented were ways to use the Internet such as looking for city and regional sites that promote special events, or "lurking" in regional and city USEnet groups to monitor announcements of special events and then contacting the organisers to pitch one's services.



After some free time, laserists again convened in the Halton A & B Halls for the LaserFest. An excellent buffet dinner was complemented by a wine service from Pangolin Laser Systems.

Jan Kriland with Spectronika CV laser
Photo by Frank Plughoff

After the dinner, our guest laserist, Jan Kriland, showed a selection of his works with commentary on the creative aspects of the shows.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1951 the son of one of Sweden´s foremost surrealist painters and drawers, Jan Kriland has, since the early 1980's, used laser technology for various visual presentations, ranging from commercial shows to cultural performances. His main aim is to develop and produce artistic laser performances for cultural purposes, to ensure the beholder a full multimedia experience for all senses.
In 1987, the Kalmar Museum of Art in Kalmar, Sweden, planned an exhibition named "Magic Light", devoted to the role and concept of light in art. Kriland was asked to participate and accepted immediately. The exhibition, and especially Kriland´s experimental performances, turned out to be a splendid success which moved one art critic to write that "the queues to Kriland´s appearances are longer than those at the State liquor shop right before closing time on a Friday afternoon"....
Shortly thereafter, Kriland was contacted by Swedish composer Jan W. Morthensen who proposed a collaboration over a musical piece he was composing.
The result was the widely acclaimed Silence XX (1988), an ascetically stern electro-acoustic work accompanied by an almost mathematically disciplined use of the laser. "Silence really was the beginning of it all" Kriland remembers. "The collaboration with Morthensen opened my eyes to the marvellous and exciting possibilities of the use of laser in art. A new, unexplored territory lay before me." Silence XX had its premiere at the Electro-Acoustic Music Festival at Skinnskatteberg, Sweden, in 1988, and has since then been performed at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm; at the Berlin Congress Hall as an event forming part of the Berlin -- Cultural Capital of Europe Year 1989; and led to an invitation to take part in the Computer Music Concert ´92 in Seoul, South Korea.

After Jan's presentation of his always interesting and artistic work, a variety of laser modules were played back from ADAT for the enjoyment of all.

  • The first module was created to the theme music from Armageddon by the 6th grade music class of John Faith using very basic X/Y systems with no blanking or colour control.
  • Stairway to Heaven from FirstLight Laser Productions was a favourite with the rock and roll fans in the audience.
  • Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" from Kyle Garner and Paul Banda at Laseronics Northwest provided some comedic moments.
  • We were treated to a reprise of the Nike module by AB Obscura Magic. Jan had, in his earlier presentation, explained that the abstract shapes used in the piece had been taken from the sole of the runners....
  • and a reprise of the Austin Powers all raster module from New Wave.
  • A new condition was added to enter the Brewster Awards in 1998 when winners agreed to be part of a compilation tape. The 1998 third place winner "Money" by FirstLight, second place winner "Sound Is Laser" by Laser Spectacles and first place "World In Motion" show from MediaLas were played from the compilation tape.

A brief break to visit the bar and stretch the legs was followed by beam module playback.

  • First up was second place Brewster Award-winning graphics module "Sound Is Laser" by Tim Walsh of Laser Spectacles. This module works well as either a beam or graphics module and is exceptional when presented as a beam and graphics module as seen at the ILDA Conference in Amsterdam.
  • Third place Brewster winner "Digital Dreamer" by MediaLas of Germany
  • Followed by first place winner "Nightmare" by Dave Nash of FFP Lasers in Canada.
  • A beam module set to the song "Children" and created by Laser F/X followed.
  • Then a reprise of one of this year's Brewster entries "Laser Trigger" by Tim Walsh of Texas was played.
  • The LaserFest ended with a playing of the very popular "Carmen" module by LOBO of Germany.

Everyone attending enjoyed the conference and remarked on the relaxed pace and the excellent food at the Holiday Inn.


Links - Quick Links to Report Pages

In order to present as many pictures as possible, we have broken this special report down into a number of pages to speed access. Most of these are large pages with many images so please be patient while they download.

Laser F/X '99 Report - Introduction and background
Friday 28 May - Behind the scenes and the crew
Saturday 29 May - Pangolin School and Open House
Sunday 30 May - Trade Show - Trade Show info and pictures
Sunday 30 May - Brewster Awards - The Banquet and entries
Monday 31 May - Seminars and LaserFest
Scanner Wars - Faster than 30K scanners debut at Laser F/X '99
Candid Camera - A selection of 20 photos (very large page)


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