As a professional mobile DJ I need to be current music-wise and also equipment-wise and to be aware of the ever evolving world of DJ lighting effects, some of which are just re-hashes of old effects and now and again we come across something that’s the proverbial dogs. Working various venues for various events, nearly all venues have optical smoke detectors built in. I always make the analogy that my light show is 100% awesomely effective with a big wow factor using smoke or haze, but most of my effects are down to around 40% without haze for the beams to cut through and really enhance the show and I feel that most DJ’s will be able to identify with this statement in varying degrees.
Whilst a gig in a marquee or similar is always a licence to hammer the haze to create the ultimate lightshow showcasing the colours, tunnels and beams, most times I have to use my haze lightly with a small puff every now and again allowing the haze to gently hit my lights to create some nice beams and tunnels but to dissipate before it hits the optical sensor of the venue smoke detector and setting off the fire alarm, thus potentially creating a sour relationship with the venue management and necessitating all the guests to congregate outside on the lawn like a scene from a Carry On film. Therefore it’s really important for me to have some effects that work brilliantly with haze, but equally will give me a show without haze. So my personal remit is always to have an animation laser in my show to project colourful fun images onto a wall or ceiling, then if I can also use haze, the colours and laser tunnels are enhanced to double the effect and wow factor that I always strive for. I have had several of these in the past but as I’m always looking to up my game and strive for the best possible, I was on the hunt for a new animation laser. It was at BPM 2014 that I found what I was looking for, the KAM Energy SD1 animation Laser.
So, this is my review of the KAM Energy SD1 Animation Laser, written from a mobile DJ perspective and as jargon-free as possible. On a technical point, this laser is rated as having a 1500mw output. Now to the average DJ who just wants to focus on his music and is not a kit geek , but just wants a lightshow that looks awesome and runs itself through a built in programme, (me) this means that it is incredibly bright and powerful.
This power comes from 3 laser diodes, red, green and blue and the mixing capabilities of this unit generates many combinations of colours that really does create fantastic effects and wonderful multi-colour combinations, amazing with haze or smoke, but not so visible without. However, the wonderfully creative animation effects created by this lovely piece of kit that are projected onto walls etc. are simply mindblowing.
All the effects are programmed onto an SD card that obviously comes with the laser and are programmed into folders with titles such as Sports, Buildings, Cartoons, Celebrations, Character, Clip Art, Club, Nature, Science, Waves, Wedding etc. Either of these can be selected and the laser will happily run through a folder displaying imaginative images related to the folder title selected. Another great feature is an Image Zoom dial which does exactly what it says on the tin, makes the image larger or smaller, depending on the size of the area available to be projected onto, or the distance from your rig.
There are so many wonderful images that look amazing, but because they are in their individual folders, the SD1 will only run one folder at a time. For me, it would be great if I could just turn it on and let it run through every animation on there, excepting of course the celebration folder which says stuff like ‘Happy Bamitzvah’, ‘Happy Birthday’, or ‘Congratulations’ , ‘Christmas’ etc. which are not one size fits all for obvious reasons. The other 90% of images, will suit any occasion and give lots of different animations before repeating and I would love all these on one folder on one SD card just to plug and play and let run. Now, whilst it’s easy to just rotate the dial and change folders for different animations, it’s not so easy when your rig is way above arms reach and necessitates standing on a chair mid-set, or winding down the whole rig to make a change. Not very practical!
I took up this issue with the service engineer at KAM and he fully agreed with me and coincidentally told me that he was actually working on this very thing to make a DJ’s life easier and was trying to develop this as a download for DJ’s to grab and use. The annoying thing is that this is a brilliant piece of kit that does so much, and it only needs a little tweak to make it 100% plug and play with no dials or knobs to push or turn once set up. My suggestion was to simply put all the animations into 1 folder, with all the ‘Happy Birthday’ graphics onto another folder, then onto an SD card for users to buy for a very small fee (don’t want to give them too many ideas) which he agreed with. So, watch this space.
So, in summing up, whilst this laser isn’t cheap at around £450, it is worth every penny if as a DJ you want to create that wow factor for your audience. If somebody in your area already has this laser, then I suggest you look for something similar but different as I’m sure you want to be a trend setter, not a follower like a lost sheep, forever being a few paces behind!