Members of the International Laser Display Association (ILDA) honored the best and brightest in their industry with awards for outstanding technological and artistic achievement at the group's annual conference November 24-26, 2002, in Orlando.

In contrast to a gloomy 2001, when the events of 9/11 forced the cancellation of ILDA's conference and most companies suffered, attendees at the 2002 meeting unveiled a host of new products and were cautiously optimistic about prospects for the coming year.

Most new product introductions centered on laser hardware, as attendees saw new solid-state green lasers by Melles Griot, HB Laser Komponenten, Laser Entertainment/Laser System Europe, LaserAnimation Sollinger, Laser Quantum, and Omicron Laserage Laserprodukte. The new lasers were more rugged and less expensive than past units while offering features better geared to the needs of entertainment professionals.

Solid-state blue lasers produced by Laser Quantum and Melles Griot were also on display. Companies are eagerly watching the development of solid-state blue lasers, as it is the missing ingredient for an all-solid-state red-green-blue color projector. In a step toward that goal, Lumalaser introduced its new Colorburst projector, which combines solid-state and traditional gas lasers to produce a projector rivaling more expensive all-gas systems.

In another first, Creative Laser Production of Munich introduced two new diffraction gratings for entertainment applications, the Machado and the Stargate, which represented technological breakthroughs.

Companies from America, Australia, Belgium, Germany, and Italy received awards for shows that included huge outdoor festivals, corporate productions, theme park installations, and special events. LOBO electronic of Aalen, Germany, took the most awards of any company, garnering seven. Lightspeed Design Group of Bellevue, WA, challenged LOBO with a total of five awards.

ILDA's Fenning Award winners included Pangolin Laser Systems' Projection Zone software feature, which combines scanner selection, geometric correction, enhanced laser preview, scanner safety, and other projector controls; the Utopia Software Suite by Xarrin Advanced Technologies and HB Laser Komponenten, a powerful set of new frame creation and animation tools for Pangolin QM2000 users; Pangolin's Dazzler, a lens/reflector device that makes it possible to project laser beams and graphics in a 360° pattern without the need for new scanner hardware or software; and Lightspeed Design Group's CineLase technology, which transfers lasers shows to videotape without sacrificing the unique look and feel of laser light. Projection Zones took second place, while the Dazzler and Utopia Software tied for third. CineLase received honorable mention. The judging panel did not award a first place.

In other news, members of the organization elected Steve Heminover, head of Chicago-based Aura Technologies, as president. Heminover served as ILDA's president 1993-95 and has been a member of the board of directors since 1991. Members also elected William Benner Jr. of Pangolin Laser Systems and Jim Hardaway of OmniSistem Lights and Effects to serve on the board of directors.

The 120-member organization approved new initiatives to more aggressively promote the use of laser displays and to coordinate the location and timing of the organization's annual meeting with other major entertainment conferences. “We look forward to 2003,” said Heminover. “The association will be working hard to show the world that laser displays are still an exciting way to enchant audiences.”

A complete listing of award winners, along with photos, can be found at www.laserist.org/Laserist/press.html.