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Frequently Asked Questions about Illuminatus Laser's art displays


What are the main types of laser shows?
Our Laser shows can be divided into three main categories: beams, graphics, and lumia. We often combine these; a graphic of dancers or a logo on top of lumia, for instance.

Beam show lasers at a private party.

What are beam shows?
Beam shows Beam shows are spectacular displays of laser lines shooting through space, indoors or out. This is a common feature of rock shows, and what most people think of when they think “lasers”. Laser projectors are wired to a laptop running special software to control the color, brightness and aiming of the beams.

The beams must be terminated, that is, the beams must shine onto something; you can’t just aim beams into the sky unless you get permission from the FAA months in advance. Here you see beams being projected from a back deck during a private lawn party in 2017.

New for 2022: Human Beams - Our biggest beam show yet, presented in a big tent at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in July 2022.

Large outdoor fog setup involving smoke sausagesIlluminaut Bill Witcher adjusts 2 large smoke sausages, designed to give maximum coverage outdoors at Legend of Sleepy Howell, 2020.

When are hazers used?
Hazers are needed for beam shows: in order to see beams, you must have fog, smoke, or haze in the air. Lasers need particulate matter to bounce off of in order to be visible. No haze, no beams. This can create problems indoors in that the haze can trigger smoke alarms. We always bring this up to avoid unexpected visits from fire officials, etc. Some venues have heat detectors - these pose no problems.

Foggers provide a dense fog; hazers make a less-visible haze that hangs in the air longer. Proper use of hazers indoors creates a barely-perceptible fine fog.

Outdoor shows pose a different problem: the slightest breeze will blow the haze away. We have a large fogger that works great for shows outdoors, but again, we are at the mercy of wind.

We use a variety of foggers for shows, ranging from large units to small foggers that can be mounted on tripods next to the beam projectors.

In the photo above, chilled fog is blown through perforated plastic film tubing ("Smoke Sausage") to fog a hillside.

Illuminatus Lasers graphic laser show for Flat Rock, MI, event (short excerpt of a five minute show).

What are graphics shows?
Graphics shows use scanned images created by lasers. These can be custom designed graphics, including motion graphics, or taken from stock footage resources. Graphic images can be animated to move across the display area, change shape & color, zoom, twist around, and do most anything you can think of.

For the video at the right, Mike Gould created around 100 graphics in Photoshop, then integrated them into the show. This project was started around two months before the event.

The graphics consisted of imagery matching the lyrics of the song; workers, churches, Flat Rock landmarks, etc. The opening seen shows the Earth, zooming into the US, Michigan, and a map of the Riverside park where the show was sited.

Click here for Examples of logos and animated imagery

Welcome message combined with lumia, 2014 FoolMOON event:

Can lasers do scrolling Text?
Just like the LED screens and monitors on the sides of buildings on Times Square and other places, scrolling text is readily available for laser projection. We can project the names of performing bands, welcome messages, or lists of sponsors. We can do this with previously provided text (preferred), or on the fly at the event.

The text can also follow curved lines and other special FX such as color shifting. Different fonts are also available. If you have a distinctive font for your logo, etc., we can usually duplicate that as well.

Laser Image of former coach Bo Schembechler Image of former coach Bo Schembechler projected on the back of the south scoreboard at University of Michigan Stadium during a night game in 2013.

Can you create custom images, logos, etc.?
We certainly can. Clients submit images of their logos, drawings, etc., and we create laser images to match.

To create the photo at the right, Laser Artist Mike Gould took a photo of Bo and processed it in Photoshop, then imported it into Pangolin Beyond software to create the outline seen.

We can create outlines of logos, mottoes, drawings, sketches, and such. We have guidelines for creating laser graphics here.

Click here for
Examples of logos and animated imagery

Can you provide custom soundtracks and music for shows?
We have a special relationship with composer/musician/band-leader Ken Kozora, who provides event-specific music for most of our bigger shows. He played live through the radios of cars during the drive-through Legend of Sleepy Howell event in 2020. His band also provided live accompaniment to our 2021 FoolMoon event: his band played in the Blue Llama club while we did a show outdoors on the proscenium of the venue, triggered by his music.

For other Dances With Lasers events such as the DLECTRICITY exhibit, we provide a small sound system and pre-recorded dance music.

Lumia from an art gallery exhibit.

What is Laser Lumia?
Lumia is a refinement of a technique created in the 1930s by light artist Thomas Wilfred. At Illuminatus shows, the Lumia laser displays are transcendent! Laser beams are shot through, spread out, and diffracted by rotating mechanisms creating mesmerizing never-the-same swirling pools of mystery & delight. An example is at left.
This was a part of an art gallery show at the Ann Arbor Art Center's Gallery 117 in 2015. This juried show was called Tech + Art.

Cloud 10 light art at Art Prize in Grand Rapids, MI 2012

What experience do you have doing laser shows?
Mike Gould and Illuminatus Lasers have been doing shows since our debut at the Penguicon Open Software/Science Fiction convention in 2009. The Illuminauts have been doing old-school lightshows since the mid-seventies, including the opening ceremonies for the World Science Fiction convention in Kansas City in 1976.

Our client list includes the University of Michigan (three shows including a Michigan Stadium night game), most of the local (Michigan) science fiction and steam punk conventions: ConFusion, DetCon I, Penguicon, World Steam Expo, Youmacon, etc., and a trip to Grand Valley State University for a lecture/demo on lasers for their Saturday Science Year of Light seminar. And we did a very involved halfhour show for the Saline Celtic Festival in the summer of 2015, involving more than 100 custom images, and a commissioned musical accompaniment with sound effects.

Mike has also built an interactive museum exhibit called L is for Laser, which has been seen at Midland’s Dow Museum of Science and Art, and Ann Arbor’s Hands-On Museum. He has also exhibited at the Ann Arbor Art Center’s Tech+Art juried show, and at Detroit’s juried DLECTRICITY event.

More information at our Past Events page.
The photo on the right is from our entry into the 2012 Grand Rapids Art Prize competition. We didn't win an Art Prize, but we won our first International Laser Display Association (ILDA) award, first place in the Innovation Application category.
This was our first major outing, after some appearances at various steam punk, science fiction, and other venues.

What safety concerns are there with laser shows?
According to federal regulations, laser beams used in beam and image shows must be kept as far away from the audience as possible, with the imagery appearing a minimal distance of 3m (10ft.) from the floor. The area where the beams terminate must also be 2m away from the audience laterally, so barricades are sometimes called for.

Do you follow federally-mandated regulations?
All our staff are trained to follow safety and other regulations. More information at our Regulations page.

Do you carry event insurance?
We carry a $2,000,000 liability policy. (In 12 years, we've never had to file a claim.)

How far do you travel with your show?
We work primarily in Michigan, but have traveled with various versions of our laser art to: Miami FL, Madison WI, Delaware MD, Montreal Canada, Salt Lake City UT, Newton NC, Baltimore MD, Scottsdale AZ, Santa Barbara CA, and Napa CA.
Past shows in Michigan have included: Detroit RenCen, Dearborn Henry Ford Museum, Ypsilanti, Howell, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Midland, and Grand Valley.

What will my Illuminatus laser show cost?
We have no idea, so let's talk. Every show is different; we take pride in making it work just for you.
Every audience, event, season and setting has different demands and every client has their own special vision.
What we do requires hardware, software, maintenance, programming, design work, transportation, crew members, insurance and careful compliance with Federal safety regulations.
Please get in touch via phone or email (shown below) and be ready to share information about your event's time, place, hopes and dreams. We are not sales people, we love our work and are pretty easy to talk to.

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