Who we are? - SHOWTACLE

Who we are?

Before we talk about our laser shows, I’d like to introduce ourselves. I think it’s important to explain why we’ve started the company and what’s our focus…

Who am I?

My name is Michal Pokluda and I worked with lasers since I was 17. I started as a laser tech in 1997 doing laser shows with 5W argon laser for one DJ from Slovakia. The laser had no blanking (we used a coin in one corner of scanner area to shut the laser), it was water-cooled, used 380V power and was heavy as hell (more than 100kg). We’ve used DOS software called LSD (yes, LSD = LaserDrawer) and it could only do live laser shows (basically just some crazy guy pressing buttons). It used ISA card to control the laser from PC. It was quite a machine back then – Pentium 166MHz (I was able to play new games 🙂 ). But it was a lot of fun, I’ve spend almost every weekend at some party. And of course, it made me fall in love with the lasers (and all the parties).

But after 3 years or so the owner of the laser decided to stop doing laser shows and organizing parties. It was quite difficult for me, since I really loved the job. But I already knew there was one company called Kvant producing lasers at the faculty of Mathematics in the local university. That was one of the reasons why I decided to attend this university (well I was also quite good at math).

But since I was a real computer geek back then I couldn’t work up the courage to visit the team of Kvant and introduce myself. To me that seemed to be too straightforward. That’s why I’ve developed one software for drawing laser pictures (which took me about 6 months of programming during my evenings) and I’ve sent it to them for testing. They later invited me to visit them and I started working for them. I’ve spent 6 years there and it’s also where I met my future business partner Marian Fridrich. He was (and is) great in hardware development. E.g. we’ve developed one of the first USB laser controllers (year 2002) for Kvant.

multi laser usb

To control more than 4 lasers from old Fiesta we had to use more computers in the past. All were connected over Midi – one was a master and other two slaves in this case. First time we’ve used this setup, I was not sleeping 48 hours and developing some new “stuff” for Fiesta…

It was a lot of fun working for Kvant. Again I spent almost every weekend at some party but we also did a lot of corporate shows here in Slovakia and around the world. We used new version of LSD called LSP and also LD2000 from Pangolin. But we always missed many features, since we’ve used more than 5 lasers quite often. That’s why I’ve started developing Fiesta software. The core was finished after about 1 year and it was quite good for us. But after some time I decided to leave Kvant and unfortunately the development stopped for a short time.

So, who are we?

We started Showtacle company with Marian Fridrich in 2007. It was quite complicated at the beginning, since the income was quite low. We also made lots of mistakes but I think that’s normal for all the new companies.

At the beginning we made a deal with Kvant about continuing the development of Fiesta. And we called it (surprisingly) Fiesta 2. We’ve developed new version of USB device, which was working faster and it was possible to use it with new versions of Windows (Vista, XP64bit, 7, …).

There was one requirement from Brazil to have cheap laser show software and controller. And that’s why Moncha laser show software and USB device was created. And with many modifications we continue to sell it till now.

We spent quite a lot of money producing our own laser projectors. That’s why we know how hard it is to actually produce a good laser system. Generally, it was not worth it, but it was fun – at one moment we owned about 30 laser systems.

first laser second laser

Our first laser projector. Fantastic 100mW 532nm DPSS green module with 30kpps scanners. The orange one was already 500mW full color with blue violet laser (405nm, beautiful colors when calibrated).

Back in 2006 it was quite difficult to control so many lasers. That’s why we’ve developed LaserMatrix device. And it was quite a success. It was even awarded the first place at ILDA conference 2009 (Fenning award for technical achievement). It was controlled over DMX and that’s why we also developed our USB DMX device.

lasermatrix inside

World’s first LaserMaster device.

But we never liked the USB port and ILDA cables. We had to pay the production of the cables for our own use and it was all quite expensive. Not to mention, the shows done using ILDA cables especially – if you ever used more than 6 lasers, you know what mess you can end up with. That’s why Fiesta.NET and later Moncha.NET were born around 2010. And we use them till today.

In 2010 we also started LED business specialized in digital/video LED strips. It is quite successful and you can find out more about it at www.ledstripstudio.com or www.trondance.com.

Why this blog?

We started our first blog for our Tron Dance system. And our Tron Dance customers quite like it. We always try to gather the best experience into short articles. And this will be our focus for our laser show blog as well. We think it’s one of the best way to exchange information with you, our clients. But it’s ultimately meant for you, that’s why if you have some suggestions for article themes, please let us know over the Email or below this article.