Working with X-Laser Products and Avolites Consoles

I just saw a pretty cool series of videos on the X-Laser product line and the Avolites Titan interface that was worthy of showing — laser light has been something operated by laser operators for a long time, but as of recently, frankly, LDs are integrating their rig with coherent light.  It’s not new, but a few companies have been making some very easy to interface products.  This is outstanding on many levels, but for one, it gives the audience another really specific wavelength spectrum for the brain to process.  High-intensity discharge units, tungsten units, LED units (fixtures and video panels), and now lasers can all come together to make a tight, variable experience design.

Laser absorption

Laser fixtures aren’t wholly different from other fixtures on a programming perspective — on a process and internal fixtures standpoint, they’re a lot like a mirror scanner — a static light source with something that the beam uses to move that beam around.  Instead of a big first-surface mirror at the end of a Cyberlight, you have a little high-speed device (or multiple devices) called a laser galvanometer that whips that beam where you want it to go.  In order of image resolution, think of it like this — the faster the galvo, the nicer the image coming out of the laser is going to be, with more clarity.  The faster galvos are usually faster on the wallet too, as they are not simple devices that can be sourced anywhere.  If you’ve ever been to a SPIE trade show (Photonics West is a great one), you’ll get your fill of laser products, laser galvos, pulse lasers, laser optics, et al.  Lasers always have been and always will be pretty cool stuff.

A laser galvo inside of an RBG laser:

A mirror galvo inside of an RGB laser, from WIkipedia

A quick definition of a mirror galvanometer:

To achieve higher sensitivity to detect extremely small currents, the mirror galvanometer substituted a lightweight mirror for the pointer. It consisted of horizontal magnets suspended from a fine fiber, inside a vertical coil of wire, with a mirror attached to the magnets. A beam of light reflected from the mirror fell on a graduated scale across the room, acting as a long mass-less pointer. The mirror galvanometer was used as the receiver in the first trans-Atlantic submarine telegraph cables in the 1850s, to detect the extremely faint pulses of current after their thousand mile journey under the Atlantic. In a device called an oscillograph, the moving beam of light was used, to produce graphs of current versus time, by recording measurements on photographic film. The string galvanometer was a type of mirror galvanometer so sensitive that it was used to make the first electrocardiogram of the electrical activity of the human heart.

The good folks over at X-Laser just started playing with Avolites Titan software as a control surface, and they’ve posted some awesome tutorial videos online.  Check out a few of my favorites below!

Patching and Master Setup:

Working with Prisms:

Making Liquid Skies 101:

and a bonus Making Liquid Skies video! Adding a color gradient to your Liquid Sky:

The entire tutorial playlist is on the X-Laser Youtube Channel, make sure to give them some love!

Frickin' sharks with Frickin' laser beams on their heads

hat tips to:

X-Laser for the great videos!
Wikipedia on Galvos
Hans Oersted


Lost Footage of Niagara Falls


It’s MY lost footage of Niagara Falls!  I thought this footage was toast, but lo-and-behold, I recovered it from a disk I’ve been having trouble with…  you know, staying out late, smoking cigarettes with its friends…  After the mess of this week, we totally needed this.

While I was working at CAST, I took Thomas Bretgeld (creator of the Creation console for GLP) over to see the falls, as he lives in Germany and had never seen the falls.  I could not let that happen, so off we went to see Niagara Falls!  This is just the random footage from that trip, with some cool music in the background.  All the footage was taken with my Sony NEX-5N.

Check it out!

800 Bucks in Lego Star Wars Shit Smashed to Bits from A Lift

I wonder if that title is clear enough?  Here’a a great video of one of those $800 Lego Star Wars destroyer things dropped from a lift by some great nerds who had a circular camera dolly rig set up just to film that said $800 worth of Lego destruction.

(I looked and could only find one of those bad puppies for $1500.  FUCK.  That’s a lot of Legos.)

There’s enough Star Wars nerds out there, right Greg?

A Video Introduction to Nanophotonics

Have you ever heard of Nanophotonics?  It’s also called nano-optics — things like laser communication, optimizing solar cells and how much they can generate, near-field microscopy, surface-plasmon resonance microscopy (SPR), and lots of other very focused research (no pun intended, but ha haaa) into how light interacts when it’s squeezed into very, very tiny volumes.

Still not getting it?  Ok, from SPIE’s own journal on Nanophotonics, here’s a wide net on what the hell Nanophotonics covers:

  • Nanoparticles and nanoparticulate composite materials
  • Quantum dots and other low-dimensional nanostructures
  • Nanotubes, nanowires, and nanofibers
  • Nanowaveguides and nanoantennas
  • Sculptured thin films and nanostructured photonic crystals
  • Quantum optics and spintronics
  • Nanoscale optical electronics
  • Surface plasmons and nanoplasmonics
  • Ultrashort pulse propagation
  • Light-harvesting materials and devices
  • Nanophotonic detectors
  • Near-field optics
  • Optical manipulation techniques, spectroscopies, and scattering techniques
  • Molecular self-assembly, and other nanofabrication techniques
  • Nanobiophotonics
  • Nanophotonic concepts and systems that facilitate continued integration of various optical and/or electronic functions
  • Dynamically tunable, multifunctional, and/or active nanomaterials and metamaterials

Yeah, I looked up seven of them myself!


Regardless, it’s photonics and optics, and that is one of my favorite research locations!  Here’s Professor Kent Choquette at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana talking nanophotonics to a group of students.  WARNING, NON-NERDS:  This is over an hour, and not for the feeble math minded!

Face Melting ROCK and F*CKING ROLL – Rival Sons

It’s Afternoon Pick-Me-Up time!!!

Are you ready to get your face melted off by some incredible power and vocals?!  I know I am.  I’ve been in a rock-and-fucking-roll-throw-the-TV-out-the-hotel-window mood for the last several weeks, pushing harder and harder to write more and more content at work.

I actually heard about three seconds of these guys’ tune on the movie Swearnet (which is frigging awesome and will make you laugh harder than Betty Davis telling Rudy Giuliani that he needs a facelift) and it is well worth the few minutes it’s gonna take to get that face melted.  Also, the video is pretty super cool!

Check it, but before you wreck it, crank it up — this is Rival Sons performing Pressure and Time.

Did you watch it?


From Chicago Blackhawks to Chicago Bulls in 3 Minutes



I found this incredible video of the transformation that happens between a Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey game and a Chicago Bulls basketball game — all on the same court.  Now we think we’re pretty awesome people when we tour and put in these massive configurations of cable, computing, and networking…  but when it really comes down to sheer weight moved and work done (in the pure physics sense of the word WORK) these crews are the shit.

Check this out:

All of this is from an excellent article in the Tribune called Game Changers…  this below, for example, is a minute-by-minute timeline of the changeover.  I’ll never bitch about an overnight changeover ever again…

…or at least not until the next one…


I’m Going Home, Ten Years Later, WOODSTOCK


Are you familiar with the band Ten Years Later?  Funny enough, it’s been about eleventy years since Woodstock, and this English blues band is still kicking your ass.

Since I’m wide the fuck awake and waiting to try to get some sleep, here’s one of my favorite tunes, I’m Going Home, as they played it live at Woodstock.  Get ready to get your ass kicked!

WTF – Wang Rong Rollin’s Video Might Smack You in the Hepatitis


Ready for something completely absolutely rock-and-roll insane?  WTF

This might be the most ridiculous thing I have seen this year so far — and I have seen some fucked up shit this year!

This is the video for Chinese rock band Wang Rong Rollin, and their song “Chick Chick,” which I think is about some type of hair product…  or some kind of gel-based lingerie set… or maybe it’s about chickens that at one time had applied for Harvard, only to find out that they hadn’t scored terribly well on the SATs.  Honestly, I have no earthly fucking idea what this is, but someone who shall remain nameless TOBIN sent this to me and it must be shared with the insanity of the population of people of light.  Enjoy, crazy people.

What.  The.  Fuck.

A Menage-A-Trois of Pigment, Oil, and Video – Pacific Light


Clear your head, think of nothing but what you’re going to see.
It’s a beautiful arrangement of color, motion, music, and just plain art.

The piece is called Pacific Light;
music by Boris Blank – Pacific Light
video by Rus Khasanov

What else have you got going on that can’t wait for one minute, fifty five seconds?  That’s what I thought.

Pacific Light from Ruslan Khasanov on Vimeo.

Check out these killer GIFs from Khasanov’s website.  So beautiful!




Carry On My Wayward Son, with ALL of the Cocaine

Wanna see some crazy shit this early on a Monday morning?  #COCAINE

I personally have never seen Carry On My Wayward Son played with this much enthusiasm, um, ever.  Not even at karaoke nights.  Maaaaybe not even ever at karaoke nights back when I used to drink a lot, and those were some crazy nights.

I found this on Dangerous Minds, and this is too awesome not to share (check out Dangerous Minds — one of my favorite blogs!):

A few online sources mention that years later, in the ‘90s, Walsh was supposedly arrested for possession and threatened with jail time. We also know from this 700 Club interview that guitarist Kerry Livgren and bassist Dave Hope were seriously addicted until they “found God.” In that particular interview, Hope admits to having spent $40,000 (in 1980 dollars!) on cocaine the year before his Christian rebirth. We can only guess what the differences would be between Dave Hope’s and Steve Walsh’s level of commitment to the white lady, but this performance seems to indicate Walsh was in imminent danger of flying off the stage and into the stratosphere at any second.

You see, as I have heard many times before…
Cocaine makes you a brand new man!  The problem then becomes that the brand new man then wants some cocaine.