LASERS, HOLOGRAMS DAZZLE FAIRGOERS
by JUDI LEMOS
The horse's leg looked so real that Jason McDonald reached out to touch it but the 8-year-old Redding boy's finger passed right through.
"Wow. Did you see that?" Jason asked his friend.
"They're cool," said Billy Youngblood, 8, of Redding.
The horse was one of 10 holograms that Billy, Jason and a host of other children and adults found fascinating at the Shasta District Fair Tuesday. The display, put on by Interactive Entertainment and Education, shows part of Jeff Allen's private collection, said Terrence Coles of Sherman Oaks, Allen's agent. Allen has offices in Sausalito and Pasadena.
"He's got the largest private hologram collection in the world. We're taking them around on the fair-circuit level because the masses don't know the technology that's out there," Coles said. "But they will."
A sign near the entrance to the display reads, "Informagic Super Highway Under Construction." And to those who saw the display, magic certainly seemed necessary.
But the display is actually a combination of lasers and photography. Holography is a photographic method that uses lasers to produce three-dimensional images. Some of the holograms on display at the fair change as a person moves past them. A mime appears to follow the person. A face turns into a skeleton.
Others, such as the horse that fascinated Jason, seem to protrude from their frames. Those who looked through the lens of a holographic telescope saw a comet, stars and planets. A microscope also appears to jut from its frame and a data chip is visible when looking through its lens.
"Can you see though the telescope? See the moon and stars?" John George of Anderson asked his 7-year-old son, Bryan.
"It's cool. But I like the cat one best. Because it looks like my cat," Bryan said.
The holograms are not state-of-the-art, Coles said. The microscope one is 23 years old and was one of only 50 made. It is almost an antique, Coles said.
"It's basically priceless," he said.
The 3-D movie was more up-to-date, however. The five-minute movie appears to be a confusing jumble of brightly colored images to the naked eye. But if a person puts on electronic head gear, images suddenly become spaceships and roller coaster rides. Some of the images appear to move out toward the viewer.
In one part of the movie, shapes move down a large tube.
"It looks like a bunch of dust being sucked up by a big vacuum cleaner," said Natalie Lindsay, 9, of Redding.
While Coles' and Allen's reason for being at the Shasta District Fair was to show what is possible with technology, the fair's placement of the display in the home economics exhibit building had more to do with getting visitors to see the cookies, afghans and other exhibits.
"We always need to have something to bring people into this area. This seems to have done it. The kids are loving this," said Harry Sippel, who works with the fair.
The display will be at the fair today and Thursday.