What is a Gobo?
A gobo is a template that light shines through to project an image onto a surface. The term “gobo” is an acronym that stands for “GOes Before Optics.”
Gobos are used in specialty lights that are designed to shine through the gobo template and project the design from the template onto a surface. Gobos cannot be used with traditional household lighting or standard par can lighting because they don’t have the lenses to shape the light or focus the light after the light hits the template.Gobos come in a variety of sizes that are based on the lights used to project them. These can vary greatly between light units.
Gobo lighting is also referred to as logo lighting, monogram lighting, name-in-lights, wedding lighting, or texture lighting.
Standard gobo sizes:
- 86mm – B-Size (Source 4 Ellipsoidal, Altman Shakespeare)
- 66mm – M-Size (Source 4 Jr.)
- 37.5mm – E-Size (LED Gobo Lighting)
- 28.6mm – (Chauvet Zoom, American DJ Gobo Projector)
Gobos are made with a variety of gobo materials. The most popular materials used are transparency (plastic), steel, or glass.
Black and White Transparency Gobo *Most Popular*
Transparency gobos or plastic gobo discs are used in our latest cutting edge technology LED gobo projector lights. Transparency gobo media allow for the same quality as our glass gobos, extremely quick turnaround times (same day), at the lowest price possible.
Using a special high temperature plastic film, images are printed directly onto a plastic disc using a special high resolution printer. Our proprietary production process offers the clearest gobos at the highest resolution.
The only negative with transparency gobos is their relative short performance life <50 hours so they are not suitable for long term commercial installations. They are also not as pretty as our glass gobos and are not as suitable as a keepsake. Most of our clients, transparency is a fantastic option that gives them the quality of glass at a price lower than a steel gobo.
We have recently been able to create 1 and 2 color transparency gobos. This allows for the traditional white with specialized colors for aspects of a logo design.
This is especially great for many of our corporate clients with logos with one or two colors in them. For a fraction of the price of color glass gobos we can offer rich, vibrant color in our logo projections. Maintain brand consistency and brand integrity with our color transparency gobos.
Steel gobo’s literally have a design cut into a piece of metal. Cut out portions of the steel gobo template allow light to project through. Steel gobos quickly limit the quality and integrity of many designs. Letters like (A,O,R,P,Q,B,4,6,8,9) need to include a connecting piece of metal or numerous pieces of connecting metal to form the letters correctly.
Most other companies provide these type of gobos because they are generally the cheapest available option for traditional halogen or HID lamp based fixtures. These companies generally do not have a designer on staff and use generic patterns or standard factory designs for their clients. This results in images that don’t hold the integrity of the original design.
The graphic to the right shows the exact same design, one for glass and one in metal. Note how in the metal design the month and date is hard to read because of the metal required to hold the design in place.
Steel gobos are the most durable of all gobo templates and are most appropriate for theatrical applications and where the template will be used over and over again in extreme conditions.
Glass – Black and White
Glass gobos offer the ability to project complex and intricate designs with ease. Glass gobos feature the design physically printed on a piece of high temperature glass using a high temperature silver mirror finish. This allows for clean, elegant designs and for a much more polished finished projection.
Glass gobo’s are more expensive and there are only a few companies in the world who produce these types of gobos. Our glass gobo’s are created by an Italian company who are known for their exceptionally clear and durable glass gobo templates.
Glass gobos are appropriate for many corporate applications where the template will be used and re-used over and over again for multiple events. Glass gobos are more durable than transparency gobos.
Care must be taking in maintaining the mirror finish of these gobos and to avoid chipping the gobo template themselves. In order to achieve their high heat resistance and clarity they tend to chip more than regular household glass.
Glass – Grayscale
Grayscale glass gobos offer the ability to print varying shades of light transmission on the glass. This allows for even more detail than black and white glass gobos and allows for complex images with shading. When used in conjunction with a color gel grayscale glass gobos allow a lot of flexibility with the final design.
Designs that feature multiple layers to the design on top of one another achieve a 3-D type of effect and are most always glass grayscale gobos. These types of gobos require an even more specialized printing technique and are slightly more expensive than glass black and white gobos.
Glass – Color
Depending on the detail of a design, there are a few options with color glass gobos. Generally there are 1-color, 2-color, 3-color, and full color options. These gobos feature the color printed directly onto the glass. Each color has to be printed separately using a special template for each color. This process makes color glass gobos the most expensive option.
Full color glass gobos are printed onto the glass all at once and allow for the projection of full color photos and very detailed images where color and color accuracy is most important.