What began with some interesting e-mail inquiries and a rather simple looking Internet home page ended up as probably the best organized and largest laser show festival in the world to date: the European Festival of Show Laser, which took place in Grimaud, France, located near St. Tropez on the Mediterranean coast.

The purpose of the festival was to bring together a mix of European companies that would introduce the art of laser shows to the French public. A private French events company, 9emee Avenue, organized the Oct. 3-5 festival, which featured nine invited companies: HWLasertechnik (Germany), Laserlight Showdesign (Germany), Global Laser Systeme (Austria), MVS Lasertechnik AG (Switzerland), Laserforum (The Netherlands), Laser System Europe (Belgium), LPI (France), Europe Evenement (France), and Laser Entertainment (Italy).

The two days prior to the official festival were reserved for technical rehearsals at the graphics site located beside the Chateau of Grimaud (about ten minutes from the coast). Laser images were projected on a green-greyish colored mountain consisting of rock and vegetation about one kilometer. Unfortunately, the mountain was not a good projection screen for colored laser graphics; all lasers that were not either low-divergence or DPSS mostly vanished as soon as they reached the mountain. After two days of rehearsal, every company had more or less found a way to cope with the unsatisfying graphical quality. Seven companies presented graphics entries, with about 7,000 spectators in attendance.

The last day of the festival was reserved for a grand finale at the beach of Port Grimaud. The evening was originally supposed to feature only beam shows and volumetric performances, but graphic displays became possible when organizers added a water screen and a 30-channel dancing water fountain. The water screens allowed each company to present up to 20 percent of their show as graphics, with the remainder as atmospheric effects. The beach location was not quite as tricky as the mountain site, but there was still room for excitement because no rehearsals were planned for the final night.

All in all, there were 350 W of DPSS, YAG, argon and mixed-gas-lasers on site. Power was provided by three 250-KVA generators, while a dozen high-volume water outlets supplied sufficient pressure for the water-cooled lasers. Countless high-volume fog generators with wind machines and hazers were spread over the site. A large PA system and the extensive water installations filled an area of about 80 x 50-meters on the beach in front of the spectators' area, with the lasers projecting down the beach, parallel to the shore line.Judges sat in the first row behind the water screen, followed by a VIP area for invited guests.

The festival was a major success both for the organizers and the participating companies. Laserists had the pleasure of meeting colleagues from all over Europe and finding new friends and business partners. Several larger French cities have already announced interest in hosting the festival in following years. But there was one complaint voiced by all participants: There should have been one night reserved for everyone to party together. The organizers assured us that this will be the first thing they add next year.

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