Gels, Gobos & Lenses
About Lighting Gobos, Gels & Lenses
Lighting design plays an important role in the success of concerts, events, presentations and other performances. Most people only associate lighting gels, gobos and lenses with theatrical applications. While theaters rely heavily on artistic lighting techniques, they aren’t alone. Exciting lighting takes center stage at major DJ shows and outdoor music festivals. Lighting designers and producers use lighting modifiers to get the most out of their spotlights, PAR cans and wash lights. This helps them create the perfect mood and atmosphere. The key to having dynamic, professional lighting is control. Gels give you the ability to control the color of your flood and wash lights. Gobos let you control the pattern of a light’s projection. Lenses control the beam angle and sharpness of projected light. These tools give lighting designers the power to customize the texture and tone of stage lighting.
Lighting GobosMusician’s friend offers gobos to create unique stage and venue lighting. Gobos are stencils or templates that are used to cast a decorative pattern on the floor, wall or ceiling. Gobos are most often used with ellipsoidal reflector spotlights (ERS), also known as Leko lights. Some moving-head spotlights can also utilize gobos. The word gobo is derived from the way the stencils “go before” the lens, or “go between” the lens and light source. Gobos are used to do everything from cast shapes and patterns on a theater stage to projecting a couple’s monogram on a wall at their wedding reception.
Steel, glass and plastic are the most common materials used to make gobos. Steel gobos are cut using a metal template as a guide. They are very resistant to heat, which makes them ideal for Leko lights and other fixtures using high-intensity halogen or incandescent bulbs. Lights can project a more intricate image by using glass gobos. This type of gobo utilizes a layer of mirror coating to block light and shape the projection. Color can also be incorporated in glass gobos to alter the light’s color the same way a gel filter would do.
Gels are translucent, plastic materials that can be used in conjunction with any PAR can light. At Musician’s Friend, we offer lighting gels in packs of multiple sheets. A DJ performing at a Halloween party might use purple and orange gels to create the right ambiance. A wedding DJ might combine multiple gels to match a color theme at a bride’s request. Different colors evoke specific moods. Clever lighting designers will use this knowledge to choose gels that give their stage or performance space the perfect atmosphere. Gels can also be used for color correction in film, photo and video production settings. The more color correction a crew can do in-camera during a shoot, the less work the editors will have to do in post-production. That could mean simply matching studio strobes to the existing fluorescent lighting, or it could mean filtering LED video lights to match surrounding incandescent sources.
Lenses can help control the shape and dispersion of PAR cans and spotlights. They let you widen the spread of light or narrow it down to a tight beam. A PAR light in a theater setting can be fitted with a lens that focuses the light on a specific part of the stage. Or, a Leko spotlight can be outfitted to project a tight beam of light across an entire venue. Alternatively, when you need to disperse light over a wide area, a different type of lens can be used to diffuse and widen the fixture’s beam angle.
For mobile DJs and event production companies, offering custom gobos and other theatrical lighting techniques is a great way to set themselves apart from the competition and create added value for clients.