Why Audience Scanning is the Next Big Thing for Lighting Designers

With many prominent US events incorporating laser light shows with audience scanning style effects, lighting designers are asking the questions.. “What is audience scanning and how can I incorporate this into my light shows?”
By: Justin Perry - Pangolin Laser Systems, Inc.
Image courtesy of Strictly FX
Image courtesy of Strictly FX
ORLANDO, Fla. - April 22, 2014 - PRLog -- With the success of the Justin Timberlake 20/20 World Tour, and with other industry leading entertainers including Drake, Dave Matthews Band, and Jimmy Fallon using audience scanning style laser light shows for their events, an influx of production companies, lighting designers, and performers of all kinds have been contacting Pangolin, asking how to create and control laser effects like the ones used during these performances.

Pangolin has collaborated with industry leading projector manufacturer X-Laser, to release the following statements to the press, which discusses these events and the effects used, and provide information about the technical and legal aspects surrounding laser performances like these. In a statement to the press, Pangolin’s Chief Operating Officer Justin Perry was quoted saying:

“The Justin Timberlake 20/20 World Tour, as well as the Drake World Tour, and Dave Matthews Band tour incorporated some amazing laser effects. However, many lighting professionals might not fully understand how such effects can be created, or the safety and regulatory challenges associated with laser displays like this. To begin, an important item to address is that all of the previously mentioned events use a laser effect which we in the industry refer to as “audience scanning”. In the simplest terms possible, audience scanning occurs when you intentionally create laser effects and project them into an audience area, so that the laser light is actually touching people in the crowd. This effect can also be confined to a stage where the laser light interacts with a performer. Audience scanning is a truly immersive effect, and it is commonly considered the “holy grail” of lighting effects.

For the purposes of this discussion, we will refer to audience scanning laser regulations in use in the United States. In order to perform any sort of public laser display, the person performing the laser show must have a special license called a Laser Show Variance, which is very much like a driver’s license for high powered lasers. The operator also must be using laser projectors that have been tested and certified to meet the safety standards of the region in which they are being used. Operator training is required, just as driver’s education is required for new drivers, to ensure that operators are able to rig, program and operate the projectors safely. Performing audience scanning effects safely, regardless of the sophistication of local regulations, requires precisely controlling various attributes of the laser beam and here at Pangolin, we've developed and patented three technologies to serve this need.

The first patented technology is called the Professional Audience Safety System (or PASS), which is a highly specialized circuit that monitors the health of all critical systems in a laser projector. PASS is tunable to suit most any need and can be integrated by any PASS Certified Integrators such as X-Laser. Once integrated, PASS performs real-time monitoring of all key projector systems and is able to instantly terminate laser emissions if it detects an unsafe condition.

Another patented Pangolin technology is known the Safety Scan Lens. Often used in conjunction with PASS, Safety Scan Lenses are mounted by projector manufacturers onto the front of laser projectors and serve to increase the divergence, within the audience area.

Now, just because a laser projector has PASS installed and uses our Safety Scan Lens technology, does not mean that it is ready or compliant for audience scanning in the United States. A special variance for audience scanning is required for any shows in the United States. This type of variance can usually be obtained through the manufacturer of the audience scanning laser projectors.This is an additional variance, and is not the same as the “general” variance you must have for your laser projector(s) to perform standard shows in the USA. This is discussed further online, on our PASS webpage.

Since performing audience scanning in the USA can be a complex process, we have partnered with several laser projector manufacturers, including X-Laser, who can provide audience scanning laser systems to the public which come with our PASS and Safety Scan Lens technology included. Our partners at X-Laser have taken it a step further though, by including an EZ-Variance Kit. In essence, they help to do the variance paperwork for you (which can be a very arduous process otherwise). If you are interested in receiving information about this, we would encourage you to contact us or the X-Laser team directly by email or telephone.

Regarding the upcoming July 2014 launch of the third generation of X-Laser Polaris systems, company President Dan Goldsmith was quoted as saying:

“Whenever you need to remove an audience from an effect for their own safety, this makes the creation of truly immersive, dynamic experiences more difficult to achieve, and less impactful. Further developments of our patent pending Polaris technologies will serve to bring audiences closer than ever to the enhanced worlds created by our clients, and we are extremely excited to see what kinds of powerful,  experiences they create. A great deal of the laser world is powered by Pangolin and we very much look forward to ever greater collaborations, to consistently deliver the best and most innovative tools to today’s designers and event producers.”

Another question Justin Perry of Pangolin goes on to address in his statement to the public, is how “how” to setup, create, and control lasers to perform spectacular audience scanning effects. Perry continues... “Pangolin’s all-new BEYOND laser control software can be used to create these audience scanning style effects, and when using BEYOND, you can achieve stunning results very quickly. BEYOND also has additional safety features built inside of the software (such as our patented Beam Attenuation Map - BAM for short), which provides operators with an additional degree of safety when performing audience scanning.The BAM allows you to reduce the output power of laser beams when projected into a given area (for example into a crowd or onto a performer), while not reducing their power when projected into a “safe” area (for example over the heads of those in the crowd).”

To illustrate all of these concepts mentioned above, Pangolin and X-Laser have created the following informative video, which you can watch here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft0ZXn_7ZlU.

More information on Pangolin can be found on their website at http://www.pangolin.com, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PangolinSystems.

More information about X-Laser can be found on their website at http://www.x-laser.com.

Justin Perry, Pangolin Laser Systems, Inc.
Pangolin Laser Systems Inc. PRs
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