As a live musician I’m always intrigued by the many ways that music is presented to an audience. One medium that has always impressed me is live laser shows at the local planetarium. I think it’s interesting to see how a live audience responds to recorded music presented this way. This weekend I went to see the Pink Floyd “The Wall” laser show in the Hansen Dome Theater at the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Utah. It has been quite a few years since I’ve been to a laser show at the planetarium so I was pretty excited to see how the technology was advancing. The last time I went to a laser show they had fog effects, starfield effects and some lighting effects. I can tell you that the planetarium has upgraded their technology quite a bit!
The first thing that struck me was the sound system. They are running a specially tuned 13,000 watt sound system with 5.1 surround sound and 21 speakers. It is a very well tuned sound system and the music was just amazing. “The Wall” is one of my all time favorite albums and I’ve heard it hundreds of times but I was still hearing things that I’ve never heard before during this presentation. The sound clarity was simply awesome! The seats in the Hansen Dome Theater were quite comfortable but I wish I would have been able to tip the seats back so I wouldn’t have had to crane my neck up at the dome so hard. That’s one request I’d like to make, adjustable seats. Other than that the seating was very good in the theater.
The lasers were simply spectacular but the show includes so much more than just lasers. They have six high resolution projectors that form a seamless image over the entire dome and they project incredible animations and video images on the dome that enhance the laser experience. The images that were projected during the Pink Floyd: The Wall show really helped immerse the audience into the album. They took a lot of the imagery from the album artwork as well as injecting some original ideas into the production. These projected images helped bring the album to life without interfering with your imagining of “The Wall” album. The fog effects were perfect and the dome has excellent ventilation so I never felt like I was choking on fog. There were the starfield projections as well and we really got the illusion of spinning and flying through the stars at several points during the show. The laser effects also included some fantastic 3-D work which really took the whole show to a different level. We were literally swimming in lasers at different times. There were bright flashes at various points in the show that were real eye shockers but they served the story very well.
My only complaint other than not being able to lean the seats back is the fact that they didn’t play the complete “The Wall” album. They played enough that the story was well told and evolved sufficiently but I would have liked to hear every track on the album. Of course, it would have been tough to keep my neck tilted for that long and the entire show clocked in at just about an hour. At the end of the show, when they tear down the wall, a hail of bricks comes down on the audience which is a really cool effect too.
Overall the audience seemed to really enjoy it and there was quite a bit of clapping, whistling and cheering throughout the show. It’s definitely something that all music lovers should see and if you’re a Pink Floyd fan it’s a must see.
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