Is a Laser Right for your Show?

   Obviously there are many factors to consider before deciding whether or not to integrate a laser into your show.  I'm going to approach this from the angle of a VJ or someone doing visuals for raves, clubs and other music events.  As I personally have a relatively short attention span, and am always experimenting with my show to improve it, this was a step that I had always wanted to make, but was not able to afford until recently.  Of course there are many levels of lasershow integration, but I'm not counting dinky little 5mw red lasers that go to music.  For the purpose of this topic, I'm talking about a laser system of typically 100mw or more, that is computer controlled.

   Computer control gives you such a wide range of mind blowing options that you will continue to be amazed through the years.  And if it impresses you, just think what it will do for your audience.  I'll get to various laser options and control systems in other sections, but for now, I'll break it down into a few simple decisions.  

1. Do you want full colour? (over a trillion possible colours ), or are you prepared to make a sacrifice and just go with a single colour - typically either red, green or blue/green.

Unless you manage to find an air-cooled whitelight laser, which will typically be no more than about 400 mw, and cost $10,000+, going full colour usually implies getting into large frame, water cooled lasers.  Although there have been many advances in DPSS aircooled lasers of late, you will usually be forced to go with a single colour if you decide to go this route, given the high cost of full colour DPSS systems.  

2. Do you want high or low power?  -  Three issues here: cost, cooling & power...discussed in detail later.

   First you have to decide what kind of market you are shooting for.  Laser power co-relates to the size of the typical area that you will be performing in.  I'm going to suggest that if your primary business is doing visuals, then a laser 500mw or less will be more than appropriate.  More power than that, and you will suddenly find yourself more in the lasershow business than doing VJ gigs.

more to come soon....

Go to the next section, -Safety considerations

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