Laser

ILDA lasers are special devices that can be controlled by Millumin to draw anything.
 To use this feature, be sure to activate it in Preferences, see Addons


Safety Notice

Laser are dangerous and you should never look into the beam or have reflecting material that can direct the beam to anyone eye.

Safety training is highly recommended.

General

An "ILDA" laser is very different than a "DMX only" laser. Indeed, such lasers can draw any shape at any moment, so you have total control on the content. Of course, a laser is very different than video medium, especially because it produces a very bright light but they are only able to draw lines (not filled shapes nor textures).

Technically, such a laser will work with two small mirrors that move very quickly, and allow the laser beam to projected in various locations. This is very different than video projectors because the laser is projecting a single point that is moving so quickly, than the human eye sees it as a whole and big drawing.

You can watch this video to learn more about how a laser works.


There are 2 kinds of lasers : with TTL modulation or analog modulation. The TTL lasers can only display up to 7 colors while analog ones can display a broad spectrum of colors.

Such lasers are controlled via a specific protocol : ILDA. This connector looks like the image below :

A device called "DAC" (digital analog converter) is required to send ILDA from a computer, such as the EtherDream DAC. There are other protocols but they are vendor specific.

Lastly, you can find explanations about other laser specifications on this nice glossary by Laserworld.

Principle

There are two methods to control a laser in Millumin :

  • using a laser drawing media, where you can freely draw
  • detecting points or lines via the laser effect

Each method works with a layer. Of course, layers using the laser can be stacked, so the laser will draw several paths. Also, such paths will follow layer's translation, scale, rotation or mapping, and color will be modulated by layer's opacity and transitions.

The limit of the canvas matches the limit of the laser : as the ratio of a laser is usually a square, you may want to have the same ratio for your canvas.

Setup

First of all, you need a laser. For example, the Laserworld CS-1000RGB or the LaserCube are affordable ones to begin. Such a laser requires an emergency button for safety reasons, see image below :


As stated above, you will also need a DAC to control the laser from your computer : the Etherdream, Helios, ShowNET and LaserCube USB/Wifi DAC are supported.
 And do not forget to buy an ILDA cable, in case it is not provided with the laser !

Once everything is plugged, run Millumin and select Laser Setup from Window menu. If everything is fine, the DAC will be automatically detected as in the image below :

Tips : if you do not have a laser yet, you can still preview the result in this window.

Content Creation

The Laser Drawing media is located in Millumin library. You can use it just like any other media.
 Once started, add paths and edit them with the brush tool.

The laser effect is located with other layer's effects.
 It can detect points or lines/curves.

By the way, do not think that laser is only about projecting on a flat surface : it also pretty well to show volume with some smoke !