Laser projector colors and types
This page explains what projector colors and types are available, and what the icons mean.
Full-color or “white-light” laser projectors
Most full-color projectors use analog modulation of the red, green and blue lasers. There are 256 levels of each color, giving 256 x 256 x 256 or 16.7 million different shades. Analog modulation also allows gradual dimming of the colors, so the graphics can fade in or out.
A few full-color projectors use only TTL on-off modulation of the red, green and blue lasers. There are two levels of each color, on or off, giving seven colors: red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta and white. It is not possible to have in-between shades, or to have gradual dimming. A color is either on or off.
Red-green laser projectors
Using analog modulation, the red and green can each be set to one of 256 different levels. This gives 256 x 256 or 65,536 different shades. Analog modulation also allows gradual dimming of the colors, so the graphics can fade in and out.
In budget projectors, the red and green lasers are turned on or off by TTL modulation. There are three possible color combinations: red, yellow and green. It is not possible to have in-between shades, or to have gradual dimming. A color is either on or off.
Another projector design has two laser colors, red and green. However, only one color at a time can be used. So any given part of a graphic or beam display is either red or green. There is no color mixing or dimming.
Single-color laser projectors
Because of how the eye works, colors in the center of the spectrum -- yellow, green, cyan -- appear brighter than equal amounts of end colors -- red, orange, blue, magenta and violet. A lime green is the most visible color. For example, a 5 milliwatt lime green laser will appear much brighter than a 5 milliwatt red or blue laser.
Note that all graphics and pattern projectors can also do beams. (The projector is simply turned to face the audience so they see the emitted beams.) Beam projectors are designed mostly for beams. A few will include graphic or pattern scanners, usually to make interesting beam effects.
Graphics laser projectors
- As of 2005, ILDA 60K (60,000 points per second) is the fastest possible
- Scanners from about ILDA 30K to 60K are considered professional quality
- Scanners from ILDA 12K to about 24K are considered acceptable quality for graphics
- Scanners slower than 12K this are best suited for making patterns (see below)
Pattern laser projectors
Since beam effects do not require high-quality graphics, pattern projectors are fine for making professional-quality laser beam shows.
Beam laser projectors
- Beam tables use a small number of mirrors (typically between 6 and 24) to re-direct the laser beam. Each beam position can aim at a target such as a bounce mirror, or can create an effect such as a spray of smaller laser beams. A beam table can aim the beam very accurately and repeatably to bounce mirrors, but it has a limited number of positions.
- Beam projectors use two scanners or stepper motors which aim tiny mirrors under computer control. Together, the two scanners can aim the beam anywhere in front of the projector. The advantage is that there are an infinite number of positions that can be hit, and shapes that can be made. However, beam positioning may not be as repeatable, which is important in a club when you are hitting many bounce mirrors.
The best of both worlds is a beam table where scanners are located at one of the positions. When this position is selected, the beam can then be sent anywhere in the area in front of the projector.
Note that any Graphics or Pattern projector can be used as a beam projector. Just turn the projector around to face the audience, and add theatrical fog to the air.
LaserNet — Laser Production Network
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