garageCube, makers of MadMapper and the software that helped popularize projection mapping, are now about to take on frickin’ lasers. (Safety rules do apply here – very, very seriously.)

MadLaser is what it sounds like – a tool for controlling lasers with an emphasis on usability, much in the way MadMapper made projection mapping more accessible. And there are a ton of features, both on the laser control side, and interfacing with content and protocols.

Got material you want to render in lasers? You can bring in video and MadLaser will vectorize it, even starting with tools like Adobe After Effects (as many mappers already do). You can bring in SVG, text, and fonts. You can interface with Shownet and Ilda and all the usual protocols.

Then there’s the laser control and rendering side. MadLaser will feature programmable laser shaders – GLSL-coded vector graphics that translate to laser materials. They also promise tricks for rendering complex shapes with Laser Dispatch.

There are video tutorials coming; I’ll keep an eye out for those for y’all. (or subscribe but… watching CDM is more fun, no?)

Meanwhile, specs, as described from our friends in Geneva:

Easy of use, as usual
Native Apple M1 build [Windows is supported, too – and required for certain rigs]
Unlimited lasers (till your computer melts)
Multi protocol: Ilda through EtherDream or Helios USB, Shownet, FB4 through Pangolin Beyond
Realtime vectorization of video or material content
Laser lines just like regular lines you’re used to
Realtime programmable laser shaders
Mesh warping of laser content
Multi laser content dispatch
Laser projector masks
Ilda file import/export
Laser text with included OneLineFonts
SVG file import to render precise vector graphics
Full options: angle optimization, blanking, draw order, maximize FPS, time offsetting signals, etc
(And much more!)

MadLaser BETA available [garageCube forum]

Also worth reading this comment from mad-matt:

MadMapper supports multiple DACs. It supports FX4 through Pangolin Beyond, so you need to be on Windows and have the licence, that’s not the option we promote, but since many people in the business have lasers with only FB4 DAC intergrated (and no ILDA input) we decided to handle it.
We prefer working with Etherdream (ethernet – 16 bits XY) or Helios (USB – 12 bits XY).
We also support ShowNET protocol – DAC, so any LaserWorld projector with ShowNET (Tarm are good machines) will work directly with just a network cable (Auto IP works fine)

Anyone got a quick suggestion for a simple laser setup for testing this stuff?

It depends on your budget and possible projects. If you want to do graphics (needs accurate scanning, precise and small beam => low divergence, good diodes alignment) or atmospheric.
I’m not comfortable to promote hardware. I first bought a small very cheap LaserWorld DS1000 to understand what laser projection is about, and while I wouldn’t use it in an install (the white is blue, to get a clean white I have to reduce lower red and green by 50%, so I’m about 0.5W), scan is not bad at all and the beam is very straight (of course it’s easier to have a straight 1W beam than a 5W)
If you want to do video projection + laser on top, you might like to have a small beam – low divergence.
If you’re doing architectural mapping, atmospheric, clubbing or festival, you might prefer power over sharpness. But for a museum piece you ‘ll choose a low power / sharp beam one.