Lasers have been used in entertainment for quite some time but never quite like they are being used by Criss Angel in his new show – MINDFREAK® LIVE!
Angel’s fascination with lasers may have started as a child going to the planetarium to see the Pink Floyd laser show but unlike most of us, he didn’t stop there. His use of lasers has been trailblazing and as fans of both lasers and magic, we were more than excited to get the chance to speak with him on the subjects.
1) Where did the idea to use lasers in your show come from?
CA: Lasers have been something that I’ve always wanted to incorporate into my art but what I wanted to do with them hasn’t always been possible. Back in the day, as you know probably better than anybody, lasers were quite cumbersome. They were big, they had to be very specifically water-cooled, they couldn’t be manipulated, etc. As the years progressed and technology advanced, lasers have now come to a point where I was able to fulfill this vision that I’ve had for so many years.
I had a very clear vision and in my initial research, I came across a company called Image Engineering. I explained to them what I was trying to accomplish – I wanted to take illusion and state of the art technology and put them together to create something that the audiences had never seen before. Image Engineering has worked with a lot of big entertainment acts, such as Jay Z and Beyoncé, and they were actually able to fabricate some components for me that no one else has. They did an amazing job facilitating the design and even some of the fabrication for it so it really takes lasers and incorporates them into the art of illusion in a way that we’ve never seen before.
2) How exactly are you using lasers?
CA: My quest for MINDFREAK® LIVE! was to manipulate and create an explosion of lasers and then ultimately to be able to float in a cone of lasers.
People tend to overuse lasers and I wanted to make sure that I stayed away from that temptation. I use them very sparingly as part of my show. The whole thing lasts maybe 2 minutes and it’s really effective. I start with green and then I manipulate them to create an explosion of different colors that goes out over the audience. It then turns into a cone of lasers that I spin and float away in.
3) What is it about lasers that makes them magical?
CA: People are enamored with lasers and their effects just by themselves but then when you add the illusion aspect it just takes it to a whole other level.
For me, I always try to do things that people haven’t seen before and hopefully people perceive this show as revolutionary, because technically it is, and I think that’s why people are gravitating to seeing it.
4) What are other technologies that you like to mix with lasers to create the most dramatic impact?
CA: We are taking illusions and lighting and lasers and pyrotechnics and we’re incorporating them in a way that creates an experience the world of entertainment hasn’t seen before.
I have Barco 4mm LED walls, over 1000 different lighting instruments, 9 different surfaces with images that the audience can see, etc. Additionally, we’re the only show in Las Vegas that is doing 3D immersion right now. We have the latest, greatest technology that allows me to create the most sophisticated theatrical production in Las Vegas, quite frankly.
5) Is there anything about the lasers that makes them difficult to work with?
CA: I have to be completely on my game every time I manipulate the lasers in my hand. I cannot ever shine them into the audience because they have the ability to do a lot of damage if mishandled. I have to be incredibly precise with my movements.
6) Do you have a favorite color of laser and if so, why?
CA: Everything that I’m doing with magic has very specific technical parameters. Certain colors play with your eyes differently and certain colors, such as red, don’t support the technical parameters that I employ magically as well as other colors, like green. I use certain colors at certain times based on the technical need.
For me, it’s all about the explosion of color and a celebration of life. I wanted to start out with green, the color that I remember from my childhood, but then have it build and climax into an explosion of light celebrating life, which is what this segment of the show is all about. It’s about celebrating life.
7) How have audiences reacted?
CA: People just go nuts for the lasers. But it’s not only lasers, it’s the whole thing. It just goes to show you that magic can be something that connects to people on an emotional level. When you have the magic of emotion, where you’re able to make people cry or you’re able to creep people out, you’re able to excite them or mystify them, you can really create so many different kinds of emotions. Like a roller coaster ride of entertainment.
I really wanted to push the envelope and take magic into the future and really connect to people and give them an experience they’ve never had before. Everyone has a different reaction to the show and the ability to bring people to different places through my art was a main goal of mine.
I’m so excited for this show because we worked so hard and we’re really proud of it.
8) What is your favorite movie involving lasers?
CA: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I really don’t watch a lot of TV or movies because I’m always working!
I can say that since lasers are new for me as far as working with them, I find myself being far more aware of them when I see them now. But I’ve been pretty underground with all my work so I can’t give a good answer to this question.
Perhaps in a few years Criss can take a much-deserved break and catch up on some movies! Until then, you can find out more about Criss Angel and MINDFREAK® LIVE! on his website.
Thanks for your time Criss!
Original Posting Date: September 8, 2016