The Entertainment Lasers Metanode

aka Everything You Wanted to Know about Laser Shows But Were Afraid to Askaka Yet another Erias Metanode project
Node Your Thesis


This entire metanode is a simplified version of my undergraduate thesis. It's focus is on entertainment uses of lasers and for that reason may not be nearly as technically accurate as a document used by oh say, a laser physicist. Instead it focuses on expressing the basics and embracing the art more than the science. Please feel free to message me with any corrections or clarifications. Also, as with all of my nodes, they are works in progress. Enjoy!

The last two decades have seen near-constant advances in entertainment technology. For instance, the intelligent lighting fixture is less than 20 years old and already it has made a massive impact on lighting design for rock and roll and musical theatre. Other innovations in theatrical technology such as the Silicon Rectifying Dimmer system, dichroic glass filters and the development of video projection systems have had similarly large impacts on concert, theatre and industrial design. Recent advances in laser technology suggest that this field will also become an important part of the entertainment industry.

The first use of lasers in entertainment applications began in the mid-1970s. The 1980s saw laser shows quickly become a common feature of theme parks, planetariums, and large rock and roll tours. However the popularity of entertainment lasers has waned during the past decade. The high costs and slow evolution of the media prevented its rapid acceptance. However, recent technological developments in the laser field have made lasers cheaper, more durable and a more versatile design tool. Although today’s remaining laser shows mostly function as a pure or separate form of entertainment, in the future lasers will likely be further incorporated into rock concerts, musical theatre and other more traditional and collaborative entertainment venues.

This document will attempt to serve as basic introduction to entertainment lasers. It will explain the basic principals of laser light and how the laser artist manipulates it. Further, it will explore not only the current applications of laser media, but also applications likely in the near future.


While line-scanned laser graphics may continue to form a small part of the future laser industry, the versatility and brilliance of laser light is likely to bring them into a much wider range of use. New advances in solid-state laser technology, creating high powered, power efficient, rugged, portable lasers will further help this migration.

In the future, lasers may replace some of the functions of intelligent lighting, creating dazzling, moving fans and cones of colored lights over the stage and arena of rock concerts and dance clubs. Laser video projectors hold great promise because of they are not limited by projection angle, size, or distance like current projectors. Outdoor civic events such as New Year’s Eve parties will likely bring laser video projectors to cities like New York and Chicago. Finally, audience-scanning technology will eventually reach the US. This art is so amazingly different, wildly disorienting and transfixingly beautiful it is certain to be popular in many indoor venues, from science museums to discotheques.

Et Cetera

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