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Laser display joins the cast of a stage musical

: Noll, R.

Opto and Laser Europe : OLE (1998), February, pp.25-27 : Ill.
ISSN: 0966-9809
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ILT ()
5 W argon-ion laser; beam; high-power beam; laser effect; scanning figure; scanning-mirror; visualisation

In the opening scene of the musical Gambler, a dancer steps across the stage through a tunnel of light projected by a laser and scanning mirrors. He reaches up into the projected light so that his fingers interrupt the beam to create stripes on the tunnel wall. The effects from the 5 W argon-ion laser throughout the show, which is running at the Musicalbühne Mönchengladbach in Germany, are the result of a co-operation between engineers from the Fraunhofer Institut für Lasertechnik in Aachen and the creative team at the theatre. Members of the audience sit beneath the beams, but the safety of the performers depends on synchronizing the limelight (stage lighting) and the laser beams with the music to an accuracy of less than 40 ms. Erie Woolfson, an ex-member of pop group Alan Parsons Project, composed the music, which is reproduced from digital tape recorders. A master tape recorder produces a time code and feeds it to the main lighting panel. The laser effects program and its graphics editor run under Windows and are controlled by a mouse. The main panel transmits start and stop signals to the laser system, which is integrated as a fixed installation and stored in the room underneath the stage until it is needed.