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Laser F/X On-line Newsletter - Digest

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October, November, December 1998

 Items removed from the on-line Newsletter web pages during the fourth quarter of 1998.

NOTE: Links on destination sites are often changed.  We provide the digest pages for archival purposes and the links to external sites were working when the material was originally published but may no longer be working.

What's New

New products and services of interest to lasersts. Submit your new product information and images in .gif or .jpg format to our E-mail or contact us.

New CD-ROM from International Laser Productions

Located in Bali ,Indonesia, International Laser Productions has, in the last five years, established itself as the most innovative, creative and reliable laser projection company in Indonesia. LPI is pleased to announce a new CD-ROM of Laser Clip-Art, Laser Animation and complete laser shows. The library is provided in Pangolin .LDB Format with the shows in Showtime.SHO Format. The price @ US$ 1,500.00. For a Complete Listing of CD Contents and Sample Download visit http://members.xoom.com/Laserpro/ILP/ or contact Terrence Green by E-mail to mebali@idola.net.id

Holo-Spectra announces SpectraText

Our new program in the SpectraScan family for Pangolin LD or ILDA frame file formats directly allows you to convert text from any combination of TrueType fonts in mixtures of colours, sizes, and italics and position them as you like. You can type in the window or drag-and-drop from Word or load in a text file from disk.

The output is proportional, beautifully shaped outline letters at the point density you select. RichTextFormat for input is supported as is vector or point mode for the laser output. Automatic corner recognition and user-controlled finesse/point density are key features. A versatile viewport with scrolling and zoom is of course a primary design element. SpectraText is available in two versions. One is designed for Pangolinís LD family with file saving in .ldb format or direct placement in a QuadMod32 frame number.
The other is a new addition to our SpectraScan family as it can run without any proprietary card. Output mode is saving to disk as ILDA format frames. Expand your artistic design capability with full font power including localised language fonts for tildes, umlauts, accent marks, and foreign glyphs. Please your clients by selecting the fonts they want you to use right from their logos and brochure presentations.
All this new creative power is available in a package featuring ease of use and low cost. Holo-Spectra's SpectraText is $495.

Info: Bill Arkin - bill@lasershs.com

MediaLas introduces Scanner Safety Board

MediaLas Laserproducts GmbH is proud to present their new scanner safety board, which is required by European safety associations at Laser show installations. It meets all the requirements for to the safety regulation VDE 0837.
The board detects errors and damages during safety cycles and recognises still/static beams in the audience as well as broken torsion bars or blown coils.
It is possible to add the CAT-safe board to every closed loop scanner on the market, even as a retro-fit, to make it VDE compatible.

How CAT-safe detects an error
The board measures all parameters more than 100 times a second. It compares computer input with position detection if they match together. If not, PCAOM output will shut down.
If there is a beam standing/static for more than 50ms (0.05s) in the same position within the safety area, the PCAOM output will shut down until the problem is solved.
If power drops or one voltage is missing, PCAOM output will shut down.
If a parameter on the safety board is not OK, then the watchdog stops output.
The board has 4 trimmers and one invert switch for changing the detection area. It is possible to invert this area: Safety detection inside this area / safety detection outside this area. It is also possible to exclude one or more areas from detection to prevent the PCAOM from shutting down when scanning onto mirrors.

For more information please visit our WebPages at: www.medialas.de


MediaLas announces YAG power supply

MediaLas Laserproducts GmbH are proud to announce our new DPSS power supply for frequency doubled YAGs with an operating current of up to 1,200 mA. A special feature of these PSUs is the modulation input for blanking operation.
For further information and prices, visit the MediaLas web-site and click on the Lasers button.

World Scan

Laser display happenings from around the world. If you would like your show or installation information here, please E-mail our E-mail or contact us.

Report from SAE G-10T meeting, December 1 - 4, Orlando
By: Patrick Murphy - Pangolin Laser Systems

The following is a report on the latest SAE G-10T meeting on "Laser Safety Hazards" in airspace. This is the group which is an advisory "farm team" for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, trying to stop entertainment and other lasers from presenting a hazard to aircraft.
The meeting was held December 1-4 in Orlando. In attendance from the laser entertainment industry were:

Tony Zmorenski, ILDA Board Member and Walt Disney World safety officer
Greg Makhov, ILDA Safety Committee chair
Patrick Murphy, ILDA Airspace Issues Co-ordinator
Jay Parkinson, Rockwell Laser Industries (Jay was with Laser Fantasy International for 12 years, before moving to RLI)
Greg Rockwell, Rockwell Laser Industries
Jim Ponce, Rockwell Laser Industries
In addition, Drew Foster of AVI-Imagineering With Lasers helped out one day with real-world examples.


This was one of the most productive meetings ever. We worked on the exact wording of new regulations which the FAA requested. The light show industry was able to make a number of points which enhance both aircraft safety and our ability to do timely shows.
We also heard disturbing reports about increasing numbers of laser pointer incidents (mostly towards police helicopters). It is clear that the laser problem is no longer entertainment-only, and that incidents are no longer automatically assumed to be due to light show lasers.


Sometime in mid-1999, the FAA should be issuing a revision to their procedures concerning airspace.
The current regulations, known as "7400.2D", will be greatly stripped down. The new regulations, 7400.2E, will focus only on what the FAA airspace procedures specialists will need to know, in order to process laser applications. It will not have information useful to the applicants (i.e., laser show companies). This information is expected to be in a future document that will advise applicants.
It was felt this separates the FAA's regulatory responsibility from their advice or recommendations to applicants.
The FAA has asked the SAE G-10T committee to help with the 2E draft. This is what was worked on at the December 1-4 Orlando meeting.


The FAA has a new attitude of urgency towards the laser issue. They finally want to fund the Oklahoma City simulator testing (to gauge the effects of laser light on pilot performance). They also want SAE G-10T to develop many new documents: the 7400.EF regs, an "Advisory Circular" with information for pilots, and a document which attempts to summarise all information gathered to date relating to laser/aircraft hazards.
James Karanian, an FAA procedures specialist, has been assigned by the FAA to get these new documents. He is working with the FAA's Larry Tonish and others on the SAE G-10T (including ILDA) to produce these documents.


One of the documents worked on was proposed by Rockwell Laser Industries. It is a reporting form with (hopefully!) all of the details that the FAA needs to evaluate a laser installation.
The "FAA Laser Light Show Report" form should be available as a Microsoft Word document at Rockwell's website shortly (www.rli.com).
One thing which the FAA made clear is that they want laser companies to use compasses, inclinometers and (if appropriate) GPS to verify any beam pointing restrictions.


Rockwell Laser Industries currently sells a program called "Skyzan" which does laser safety calculations for outdoor shows.
RLI showed an alpha version of Skyzan 2.0. This will have integrated reporting, so not only can a laser show company do calculations, they can also generate reports for the FAA. The resulting "FAA Laser Light Show Report" form will be the same one used by the FAA.  Also, the FAA may want a copy of the Skyzan file so they can check the laser company's calculations and do a "what if" analysis, without tedious re-entering of the data.
The new program may be released in the second quarter of 1998. RLI is looking for any suggestions from laser companies before the final version is nailed down.


The meeting heard a presentation by Captain Dan Lindsay of the L.A. Department of Airports. He discussed a growing number of incidents where laser pointers have been aimed at police helicopters. Due to the low altitude where the helicopters fly, the beams can present a startle, glare or even flashblindness hazard to the pilot.
Formerly, SAE and ILDA thought that laser pointers were so weak that they were not a significant threat. This is still probably true for aircraft. But because helicopters are low and hover, they are apparently susceptible to dazzle from pointers.
Ironically, because the pointer incidents happen so often, the police are no longer worried that they are being targeted by a gun with a laser sight. (At least they're not TOO worried...) But they obviously are concerned with the brightness hazard.
One man in California was apprehended after repeatedly shining a 10 mW He-Ne onto a helicopter. During questioning, he initially said that he was playing with his dog, and the beam must have slipped out between the slats of his fence. He was charged with a felony (apparently the first person in California to be so charged for a laser aiming incident). After questioning, he asked if he could have his laser back!
I asked Lindsay whether he felt that legal pointers (5 mW and under) had low enough power so they were not a threat. He said if he had his way, he would not allow anything greater than 1 mW to be pointed at an aircraft.
Lindsay and his fellow law enforcement officers are now worried about the far brighter green laser pointers which are beginning to appear. They are also worried about deliberate use of higher power (non-pointer) lasers.


Most of the meeting was taken up with the FAA 7400.2E rewrite. ILDA members doing outdoor shows in the US should review the draft to see if there are any potential problems for our operations.
Members outside the US also should be aware of what could happen in their countries. For example, a regulator from Transport Canada sat in on the meeting. He indicated he would want to adopt US standards if possible, to make evaluation and compliance "harmonised" in the two countries.

KISS and Lasers
By: Barney Kaelin - Laser Magic Productions

I had to smile on reading a recent news item about the members of the rock band KISS getting mad at a kid in the crowd for zapping them with a laser pointer. I don't mean to discount the seriousness of the occurrence but...
We did a couple of photo shoots with Kiss over the past few weeks and as a prelude to putting the guys into a laser tunnel I gave them a very stern laser safety warning about not looking into the beams etc. To illustrate a point I used a 10 watt argon beam to set fire to a piece of paper in order to get their attention. It worked. For the rest of the photo session the band treated the laser tunnel with the greatest respect bordering on fear. To my surprise they told me that they had never worked with lasers before.
I can image their terror remembering that flaming piece of paper while being zapped by the laser pointer on stage. The photographic results of one of these sessions will appear in the April issue of Playboy magazine.
The seriousness of this (not so isolated) occurrence is starting to make its way into the performance industry's consciousness. It won't be long before some stage performers are going to be wearing glasses with laser safety coatings on them. It is just too easy for a kid to sneak a tiny pointer into a show in order to win "bragging rights" that he zapped a superstar with a laser beam.

Kiss Warns Crowd About Lasers

NOVEMBER 23, 15:01 EST - EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)  - Members of the rock group Kiss gave a tongue-lashing to the crowd after someone shined a laser pointer in drummer Peter Criss' eyes.
Criss finished singing the ballad ``Beth'' at the Continental Airlines Arena on Sunday and then nearly stormed off the stage, furious that someone was blinding him with one of the hand-held electronic devices.
He rushed to the side of the stage, grabbed a microphone and screamed a profanity at the responsible party. Lead singer Paul Stanley challenged whoever was shining the beam at band members to fight him on stage.
"In every crowd, there's one or two people who don't belong here,'' he said. ``Now I know you want to bring it to school tomorrow when you go to sixth grade, but leave it at home when you go to the show."

Laser Images celebrates 25th
By: Bill Arkin, Holo-Spectra Inc.

Congratulations to Laser Images on its Silver Anniversary (25 Laser Years) of producing the LASERIUM show at the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory.
Not only is this the longest running theatrical attraction here in southern California, but it is almost certainly the anniversary of the first public laser display show. On November 19, 1973, an unpublicised presentation in the pit by Ivan Dryer at the LA planetarium was the start of an artistic and corporate expansion that has totally influenced every single person and company that has done laser display since. Ivan (Laser Images founder, President, and also ex-ILDA president) noted that probably only in Los Angeles at that time could they have drawn 500 people the first night.

Laser Images celebrated with a special invitation show which featured one of their very first pieces and their most advanced current show, "Laser Visions". They also interspersed this presentation with numerous Laserium milestones. The (unfortunate for LA) phrase that entered my head as I watched the endless reel of city names and dates and show productions was "spread like wildfire". Ivan informed the experienced but excited audience that Laserium had cast its photon glow over nearly 20 million people in 45 world-wide long-running venues.
The transformation from the early show "The Blue Danube" staring those four overworked lissajous character actors EllipseBlue, EllipseGreen, EllipseRed, and EllipseYellow to the complexity of their latest show, that only the sophisticated CS Projectors can render, was really amazing to me to ponder since I have also been immersed in this for 25 years. All together - a very enjoyable evening and a powerful measuring stick for us all.
Congratulations Ivan and all the programmers and laserists who have sat behind the CS series' panels.

Laser F/X '99 Dates Announced

The fifth annual Laser F/X conference will be held May 29 to 31 at the Burlington Holiday inn in Burlington Ontario. This is the world's only open laser conference that anyone may attend.

  • Saturday the 29th - Dinner and open house at the Laser F/X studio

  • Sunday the 30th - Trade show and Brewster Awards banquet

  • Monday the 31st - Seminars and LaserFest Party

Further information will be announced as it becomes available.

Casey Stack moves to 3DTL

It was announced this week that 3DTL has received $1.9M in a grant from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This grant is provided under the ATP Advanced Technology Program. Under the Regan Administration, The National Bureau of Standards was changed to the NIST and given the responsibility for the promotion of new technologies in the USA. 3D is expected to received several million dollars more in US government agency sponsored grants before the end of the year.
3DTL and the Crossed Beam Display (CBD) is the brain child of Dr.Elizabeth Downing a recent Stanford University student. ILDA members will be familiar with her from the presentation at the 1996 ILDA ATW conference in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.
The Crossed Beam Display works by a process of Two Photon Up-Conversion. Where two infrared laser beams of differing wavelengths are intersected inside a special floruide glass cube, an upconversion flourescence process produces a visible spot. To create imagery, the intersection of these beams are scanned around in 3 space, generating a real volumetric image. 

Casey Stack

Casey Stack has been named the Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing. Stack is one of 4 start-up team members. 3DTL already has orders from several government agencies for CBDs. Recently the technology has been expanded to deliver displays which are 6 inches on a side, 216 cubic inches.
Although 3DTL is effectively a start up company it is has already shipped proof of principle and pre-production models. "This technology is real and very practical for several markets", says Stack. "There is no pie in the sky here, we don't need to break any laws of physics or find a source for the material "unobtanium". There are already specific applications beating down our door to get their hands on the product as it functions today. It is really exciting to be invited to join a project with this much potential." Stack starts with 3DTL in October, a move which will take him to San Jose California.

Bob Yazell joins Laser Physics

Salt Lake, 01 Oct 1998: Laser Physics announced that Bob Yazell is joining the company as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Bob is will known in the laser display industry from his days at Coherent and his work with ILDA
After a five year hiatus from ILDA, Bob Yazell will be returning to the group as VP of Sales and Marketing for Laser Physics, a leading manufacturer of air-cooled lasers. During his time away, Bob has been busy working as a consultant, and, most recently, as Director of sales for ILC Technology - a LAMP company. How boring that must have been - incoherent, broadband, uncollimated, efficient photons. He claims he was responsible for $16M in business for medical endoscopes, dental curing, forensics, spectroscopy, and even some entertainment uses.
In his new role at Laser Physics, Bob promises to help us find new low-cost, high power laser sources (proving he himself is incoherent, a true glutton for punishment, and he must STILL be on something funny). Once a laser person, always a laser person. Bob says he is looking forward to seeing all his old friends (and competitors) in Amsterdam.
You can reach Bob at byazell@laserphysics.com or byazell@compuserve.com

Bob Yazell

New York Times publishes "How Laser Shows Get Their Dazzle" article

On September 24th, The New York Times published an article entitled "How Laser Shows Get Their Dazzle" By David Kushner. The article discusses the impact and popularity of planetarium style laser shows and estimates them to be worth over $1 million per year. The article is accompanied by an excellent diagram showing how laser projectors work.

Excerpts from the article:
"As rockers lean back to gaze at a planetarium's dome, they see a glowing image pulsing in time with the drumbeat of the music. A figure of a hippie wearing neon red bell-bottoms and playing a quivering electric guitar disintegrates in a loud crash of cymbals and is replaced by a fluorescent wash of abstract designs that coalesce into luminous rising steps.
"Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin has finished to celebratory fist-pumping by the audience, ending this laser light show. Today, about 25 years after these midnight displays of pop culture began, such kaleidoscopic blends of laser art and radio favourites can still be found in a few dozen places nation-wide, like New York City and Bradenton, Fla." . . . .
"By most accounts, the laser show era was an outgrowth of the fascination of a California filmmaker, Ivan Dryer, with the laser experiments of a physicist in 1970. When Dryer documented the work, he said, he found himself "confronted by an eerie sci-fi environment." So Dryer, 59, the unofficial father of laser light shows, began his own laser productions, including a stint creating laser effects for an Alice Cooper concert tour." . . . .
"The International Laser Display Association estimated that the planetarium market generated $1 million per year in ticket sales but that the bulk of the laser art business came from events like product introductions and Las Vegas stage shows. Dick Sandhaus, co-founder of the association, estimated that non-planetarium business generated tens of millions of dollars per year." . . . .
"Dryer predicts that the laser shows' future will be in large-screen formats. The shows of the future, instead of being shown in planetariums, will be displayed in Imax-style theatres that will combine traditional films with live laser effects, he said. Still, for many rock fans, nothing will replace the simple thrill of laser Zeppelin as it exists today." . . . .

You can read the full article, and view the diagrams on-line at the New York Times web-site. Registration is required to access the article however it is fast and free.

Paul Earls Laser Pioneer - 1934-1998

Cambridge, Mass. - Paul Earls, an electronic music composer who worked to combine music and visual arts, died Monday Sept. 7 of heart failure. He was 64. Earls, who experimented with laser and electronic effects in his music, was affiliated with the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also taught at the Massachusetts College of Art.
Paul contributed to a Washington DC art installation called "Centerbeam". It included holograms from Harriet Casdin Silver mounted on a long pipe which emitted steam. A laser scanner projected crude graphics through the steam and onto the side of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.


You are invited to present a new product or interesting technology at the upcoming Advanced Technology Workshop of the International Laser Display Association (ILDA).
This invitation is extended to manufacturers of laser or lightshow related products, research labs with innovative ideas for laser or lightshow related technologies and other individuals who wish to assess the applicability of non-laser related technologies to the field of laser display.
The Advanced Technology Workshop, now in its seventh year, is a forum for technology development as well as a showcase of new products. Vital laser display products are developed and commercialised at the ATW, where technology and product manufacturers come together with laser display industry developers. Manufacturers can perform market-wide research and determine key direction and parameters, and ILDA members can learn about the latest technology developments.
Paper presentations are typically 10 to 30 minutes in length. New product and interesting technology presentations are typically 5 to 15 minutes in length. There is an additional 3 to 5 minutes given for questions.

The ILDA conference is the annual meeting of the International Laser Display Association (ILDA). ILDA members participate in many aspects of laser display technology, with a strong focus on the laser entertainment and commercial information display industries.
The ATW is held as the first event of the ILDA conference and is open to all members, technical and non-technical alike. The time for the ATW is Saturday, November 7, from 10:00 until 14:30. There are other ILDA events which extend through the end of Monday, November 9.
This year, the ILDA conference will be held in Amsterdam, at the Hotel Mercure. This is situated near the river "Amstel", on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The distance to the city centre is about 10 minutes by metro, and about 20 minutes to Amsterdam's "Schiphol" airport.'
If you have a new product or interesting technology that you would like to present, please contact:

William Benner
ILDA Technical Committee Chairman
Phone: (407) 299-2088, Fax: (407) 299-6066
E-mail: William_Benner@msn.com

Safety of Lasers in Airspace Course
October 21-23 at the DoubleTree Guest Suites, Orlando International Airport

Laser safety is an integral part of any laser light show. There are several standards mandated by different regulatory organisations that apply to laser light shows. The FDA through the U.S. Centre for Devices and Radiological Health, (CDRH), enforces rules used to certify laser products. The government considers both the laser system performing a light show and the light show itself to be laser products, thus both need to be certified. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enforces regulations pertaining to laser light transmitted through airspace.
All out of door light show operators need to be aware of their responsibilities regarding airspace. The FAA enforces the 7400.2D regulation which was developed using the recommendations of the Laser Safety Hazards Sub-Committee of the SAE.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses guidelines in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z136.1 "Safe Use of Lasers" Standard. This standard indicates the level of safety training necessary for the different classes of lasers. Class IIIB and Class IV lasers require a Laser Safety Officer.
Each year Rockwell Laser Industries offers a course titled, "Safety of Lasers in Airspace". The course features instructors on the G-10T Laser Safety Hazards Sub-Committee and the ANSI Z136 Executive Committee. The primary instructor is Greg Makhov, a member of ILDA and Director of Laser Products at Lighting Systems Design, Inc.
This year the course is being held October 21-23 at the DoubleTree Guest Suites, Orlando International Airport (407)240-5555. For registration or more information please contact Michele Garvey, Training Co-ordinator at (800) 945-2737.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the information in the Backstage area is provided by the persons or companies named on the relevant page(s). Laser F/X does NOT endorse or recommend any products/services and is NOT responsible for the technical accuracy of the information provided.  We provide this information as a service to laserists using the Backstage area. 

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