What is sometimes referred to as laser show light or lights is what professionals would call a laser display projector or system. The laser show lights emit a laser beam or beams in visible spectrum of light and usually work with the beam in some sort of way.
You may wonder what laser light show equipment is needed for an outdoor laser show, what’s the price of laser light equipment for home entertainment and what it would cost you if you went for something truly professional such as Kvant laser light projector. Let us explain some basics here.
All the typical equipment used for performing laser show lights can be divided into 5 major groups:
Laser show lights / display systems (laser light show projectors) - devices that were purposefully designed and manufactured to project moving (scanned) laser beams and/or aerial laser light effects and/or laser light graphics such as text, logos and animations.
Although you can buy laser light “toys” from as little as few euros, the prices of professional level indoor & outdoor laser light projectors are relatively still quite high. Here is important to know, that what’s most expensive, doesn’t have to be necessarily the best.
Laser beamers / beam bars / static beams - these can’t be called laser light show projectors as such, because their main and very often the only purpose, is to emit a single static (non-moving) laser beam or beams (sometimes from several outputs at the same time). These laser show lights are often fitted with some additional effects such as diffraction gratings. Some of the effects can make the laser beam moving and/or alter its appearance in some way. But because these movements and effects are not created by scanners, they are not scanned effects as such and therefore these laser show lights don’t belong into laser light show projector category.
There’s hundreds, if not thousands of all kinds of laser show lights available on the market and many may be sufficient for a small private parties, home celebrations and discotheques. However, these days only very few manufacturers produce quality laser show light projectors, that are suitable for professional use at concerts, tours, TV shows and other public events.
Although some far east manufacturers have done quite well in the last few years, when it comes to reverse engineering development, even the best ones are still quite behind the top European manufacturers when the quality of laser beams, control systems, scanners and functional safety features (which by the way are critically important) is considered.
Laser display control systems - these are usually supplied in a package that includes an interface and compatible laser control software and allows the data exchange (communication) between a control computer and laser show projector.
The latest trend in Laser Display Industry seem to be the control interface built into the laser projector itself, which helps to eliminate the usage of heavy ILDA cables that would normally run between the control interface and laser projector.
Hazers & Smoke generators - haze & smoke (as well as natural mist, fog, rain, dust and snow) are all perfect for laser show lights as they allow us humans to actually see the laser light. The laser light reflects off the particles of these elements and that is the only reason why we can see lasers. Without them - for example in vacuum, we wouldn’t be able to see the lasers at all.
In most situations it’s better to use hazers than fog machines, because they create lighter and finer haze with longer dispersion times.
The fog from foggers tend to be quite thick and heavy, falls down faster and usually leaves a sticky and slippery residue on virtually everything around - including sensitive laser show equipment.
Laser light projection “screens”
If the goal of a laser light show is to display some laser graphic images, text or animations, some sort of projection surface that we project onto or into becomes a necessary component of the projection. And where most of times the projection surface will be a wall of some sort, sometimes more fancy projection medium will suite the situation better.
The laser projections can be done onto (or through) a near-invisible gauze, a rear projection screen, holographic foil and maybe even some phosphor-like glowing textile material. But also into a water screen, fog screen, heavy rain and dense fog or snowfall.
Each display medium will offer something special and unique and opens tons of possibilities for experimenting.
We need to further divide all the above mentioned equipment according to where, what for and by whom the equipment is used. But that’s up to every laser light show performer to evaluate what equipment is the best for what they need to achieve.
A mobile DJ that works mainly in smaller indoor spaces for crowds of a couple hundred people at most, will probably want to use a different kind of laser light show equipment than a lighting professional that goes on European tour with famous band, performing outdoor displays for thousands of spectators.
For large public outdoor shows all the laser display equipment must be professional grade stuff with all safety features present and functional, more rigged, ideally weather proof or at least water resistant. Not only the laser equipment needs to be tough, but also all the electrical and signal cabling have to be strong enough and certified for use outdoors.
In regards to laser projectors there’s one basic rule that will apply to most outdoor situations that require aerial laser effects: more quality laser power is better!
From this point of view our Spectrum systems are ideal for these types of projects and our current (2019) flagship system LD Spectrum 33 RGBY would be an ultimate winner.
The laser control system must be reliable and mastered by the programmer and operator, no matter if for indoor or outdoor laser show display.
The best way of controlling lasers professionally for both, large scale outdoor and indoor events, would be the native control from lighting consoles via DMX or ArtNet. All the Kvant systems can be controlled via DMX, ArtNET or both (as well as via network) and their profile personalities for all major lighting consoles can be found on lighting console manufacturers’ websites.
Hazers for outdoor laser light shows are rather big and chunky machines that are usually gas powered. Although it’s virtually impossible to predict an exact wind conditions, hence efficiency of hazers for the time of event, some sort of an artificial haze or smoke should always be provided, to support the visibility of lasers as much as possible.
The best projection “screen” for outdoors would be a cloud of heavy snowfall, but we appreciate this is not always achievable or something that can be planned and managed by humans. An installation of a large water-screen on lake or river is something that can be done and will provide an event with a huge and cool laser or video display area.
No one want’s to get hot & hurt with lasers which are hazardous and can cause the permanent blindness if they are not properly working or operated correctly.
When you use lasers at home and entertain yourself, family and friends, that’s your own thing. And although we strongly suggest to use a professional equipment and strictly follow all the laser safety regulations, no one can force you to do so.
But performing for general public is something completely different and using anything else than professional grade laser show lights, that are reliable and contain all safety features required by law, could put you in a very serious and life-changing situation just like that!
The most important differences between non-professional and professional laser show lights are not the price, size or weight of the equipment. It’s the reliability, presence of functional laser safety features and quality of the final projection.