There are two ways of using show laser light systems: Aerial or beam show applications and graphics/surface projections. At aerial or beam shows, the spectators face the laser projector or at least spectate the laser beams from the side. The laser beams do not necessarily end on a certain surface.
Graphics projections use a surface to visualize graphics, texts etc. that are drawn by the laser. It is always necessary to have a surface where the graphics, texts, etc. are visualized on. As laser light is never ending (only getting dimmed), there is no way to do any projection without having a proper surface to project on. However, it is possible to use special projection surfaces that are not solid or have other features that help in creating 3D-like laser show projections.
Front projection screens usually are made of solid screen material, like it is used for most of the video projections - at home or in cinemas. This material usually has very good reflection values and thus are very suitable for bright projections. The color of this screen type usually is white (to get the best reflection factor). If a front projection screen is used, spectators view the projection from the same direction the laser projector is drawing on the screen.
Rear projection screens are usually made of semi-transluminescent material, so they do not reflect the light but create kind of a "glow". Depending on the opacity, rear projection screens sometimes even let some portion of the laser beam pass through the material. The color of this kind of screens usually is light grey. Projections on rear projection screens are made from the opposite side of the spectators - the laser projector faces the audience with having the rear projection screen in between, where the graphics, texts, etc. are projected on.
Gauze projection screens are made of kind of "fishnet" material, meaning the fabric has many small holes (mesh material, gauze material). Gauze screens can be used for front and rear projections at the same time. Due to the many holes the reflection values are not as good as with normal front projection screens, however there are other huge advantages - especially in combination with laser light projections:
Due to the many small holes the laser beams are not only reflected or create a beam on the surface - parts of the beams can also pass through the material. Together with fog or haze in the room this gives a 3D like effect: The diverging beam makes the spectators feel like they would be integrated in th show. The use of a gauze screen thus provides opportunities of both types of shows - for beam shows as well as for graphics/text shows.
Both types, the front and the rear projection screen, are very suitable for use with lasers. Especially the front projection screen gives great results if lasers are used together with video projections, e.g. for video mapping. Gauze Screens / Mesh screens are available of different types of fabric/material: Most common is a medium grey screen type, but there are also special transparent materials available that give more of a glitter effect when projected on. The major difference basically is the size of the holes and the thickness of the gauze material. The material itself influences the reflection factor and the transluminescence.
Laser is a great medium for creating projections of different kinds. To make the laser visible it is always necessary to have a surface that reflects the laser light and thus makes it visible for human eye. Many different types of screens are available: Some consisting of fabric, others of water. The Fogscreen® is a very special type of screen, as the surface is not solid: This screen consists of very light water spray, that has been vaporized and is shaped by two very strong air shields. This generates a nearly invisible surface that people can walk through.
3D projections are often demanded, as it is is a common mislead that lasers can create real 3D holographic projections. Both, laser and video can only creat 3D lookalike projections, but they always need a surface to project on. The Fogscreen® as nearly invisible, non-solid projection surface is perfectly suitable to generate such a 3D effect.
As the Fogscreen is not of solid material and the moisture created from the screen is neither visible nor recognizable, it can be placed at places, where normal screens couldn't be set up at all. It is possible to mount the fogscreen above entrances, so pleople are "forced" to walk through it. This possibility of projecting directly in the crowd gives a new opportunity for interaction and integration of the spectators to the laser show.
To generate good visible video projections on a Fogscreen® the projector must always face the spectators (rear projection). With show laser light it is possible to project to the screen from any angle. This gives the great opportunity to address spectators form any direction.
Water screens are usually used indoor for generating a projection surface that can be easily and quickly switched on and off. Water screens provide a curtain of a multitude of water drops falling downwards. The sreecn consists of the actual water screen element with rows of nozzles that are in very close distance to each other, a strong pump with a special hose and a water basin. To have more depth in projection surface and a better "resolution", water screens usually have two or three nozzle rows. The more nozzle rows, the more water density in the actual projection surface.
Water screens are ususally used to project on with video and/or lasers. There are also solutions that use the water screen as effects element itself, however this is a very rare kind of application.
More advanced water screen solutions are graphics capable themselves, meaning the water drippling from the single nozzles can be controlled to generate text or patterns of water falling from top to bottom. Together with lasers this creates amazing effects!
Waterscreens consist of a nozzle element that is equipped with hundreds of nozzles in several rows. This element is mounted to the ceiling, truss, etc.. A pump delivers water from a water source to this element and makes water dripple out of the many holes. So the general principle of a water screen works opposite to the water shield: Whereas the water shield emerges from bottom upwards, the waterscreen is created of water drops drippling down - that's why some people also call it "water curtain". Water screens are normally used at indoor applications, hydro shields more for larger scale outdoor projections. With lasers it is possible to project on the water screen from both directions, video projections should face the spectators to be properly visible.
Hydro or water shields work the other way round than a water screen:
They are generated from the bottom upwards.
Water shields consist of the shield element and an extremely strong pump. As the effect spreads up quite wide, it is used in large water basins only - artificial or natural (like lakes, rivers etc.).
Water shieldsare perfect surfaces to project large scale video and laser images on. As they can spread up to 70m width (depending on the model type), they are used for large scale multimedia shows. The advantage of water shields over solid projection surfaces is the ability to suddenly emerge on a stage or scene and disappear the same speed. The surface refracts the light in a way that a 3D-like effect arises.
Hydro shields create a rather flat projection surface made of water. The shape of this screen is a half circle and is generated from the bottom upwards. It is created with a special 180° flat nozzle together with a very strong pump system. This kind of projection screen requires a permanent water source, and usually the nozzle element is placed in a lake or larger water basin. Hydro Shields are used for comibations of video and laser projections and are used with rear projection in most cases. Most of the huge multimedia shows use Hydro Shields as projection surfaces.
Everybody knows the little water sprout fountains in parks and gardens. But there are also professional water sprout fountain solutions, that can be remote controlled and integrated in complete multimedia and light shows: These systems have variable pump solutions, that can be controlled by DMX and thus can easily be integrated in the whole show.
Water sprout fountains consist of a line, circle or other shape of nozzles in certain distances to each other, which are attached to the main water supply that comes from the pump. Depending on the pump strength and the nozzle size it is possible to create complete water walls from bottom upwards or slightly dense water effects that lasers can project on.
Video projections on water sprout fountains usually make no sense, whereas lasers can generate astonishing effects.
Water jets, are used to extend outdoor scenes in height and to attract the spectators to look up. Especially in multimedia shows this effect sometimes is used to enable the stage crew to change settings in the lower front area whilst people are looking at the water fountains.
Water fountain effects can perfectly be combined with lasers:
As they generate a lot of spray, the laser beams can be easily visualized in a certain area. They can also emphase the water column by projecting patterns or color elements onto it.
A special jet nozzle together with a strong pump generate the water fountain effect. The possible maximum height of the fountain depends on the diametre and shape of the jet nozzle as well as on the power of the pump.
Where normal glass surfaces usually are not really suitable for laser projections (too low reflection value), frosted glass can be a very suitable alternative. The frost effect provides sufficient reflection for the use both as front as well as rear projection solution. This kind of projection surface is often used when it comes to projections towards buildings or if certain advertisement projections shall be made. The advantage of this kind of projection surface is that it can be seamlessly integrated in most designs objects, buildings, etc., but can easily be turned into a projection "screen". The opacity and the kind of the frost effect heavily influence the suitability for laser projetions.
Water and fire are the contrast in elements - it's more than obvious to use fire elements in a multimedia show to emphase this contrast - or even make it appear not existing.
Fire elements can be implemented in different ways: Normal pyrotechnical effects emphase the genereal apprearance of the show and can especially be used for creating additional tenseness for the spectators. This can be flame effects (that can be controlled music synchronous), explosion effects or stage fireworks.
In addition to that is it also possible to combine multimedia shows with fireworks that reach high up in the sky. The smoke of the fireworks can even be used for additional laser effects in the sky.
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Having all hardware products on site and mounted is not enough for generating real emotions for the spectators: It is crucial to have a harmonious, perfectly synchronized show that integrates all media in an artisctic, choreographed way.
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