No competition or awards system which relies on human judgment can ever be objective.
In some athletic competitions, there is relatively little room for interpretation so it is possible to say who ran the fastest time in a marathon, or who cleared the bar in pole vault. But in many "objective" sports there can be problems with refereeing or other interpretations of the rules.
There are many competitions where aesthetic judgments are made, such as the Oscars, the Emmys, the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Booker Prize, figure skating, gymnastics … the list is as endless as human endeavor.
Within ILDA, we strive for objectivity, defined as when "one entry is clearly and consistently judged to be better than another based on specific, observable, measurable characteristics."
That's why we have guidelines such as "TVU's suggested judging criteria" below. Also, we ask judges to give a number rank to each Artistic Award entry in the areas of:
- Technical Competency
- Artistic Competency
- Quality and Variety of Laser Effects
- Visuals Following Music
But despite these tries at uniform judging criteria, ultimately each year's judging gives a unique result, based on that year's judges' particular choices and tastes.
In 2017 ILDA did a test where we had two independent sets of judges. To summarize the findings, some of the top "winners" from the test set of judges — all of whom had previously judged the ILDA Awards — were not in the top three, or not in the same order, of the official set of judges for that year. (For complete details including downloadable score sheets, go to the 2017 ILDA Awards page; scroll down to the "2017 judging and scores" blue button, and see the section about the "Test Results Round 1-2".)
We also often have had judges tell us how difficult it is to pick the top three in a category, when there might be four, five or more excellent entries, each deserving in their own way.
Think about how often you personally have disagreed with the results of competitions such as the Oscars, the Emmys, etc.
To conclude, there is no truly objective way to compare laser shows and pick the "objective" three best in a category. Consider the ILDA Artistic Awards to be a "pool" of good-better-best entries, and from the pool of better/best, three winners are selected that could be the same, or completely different, under different judges, or even the same judges looking at the entries six months later.