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Gobo Gadgets

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by jmac, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. jmac

    jmac Member

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    Trying to understand the various gobo dmx toys (have no experience with gobos at all).

    Could someone please explain differences, pros/cons between effects that can be produced with gobo rotators (e.g. Apollo Smart Move) vs. an animator (e.g. Rosco Infinity). Others?

    Any advice for getting feet wet with gobos (fixed and rotating)? As we don't have permanent facility, and have to rent, I unfortunately have limited ability to experiment in real life... Thanks.
  2. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    There's a LOT to be said here so I'll start and others can chime in.

    First you have static gobos. These are the ones you put in a frame and drop in the slot. These are used for realistic effects like leaf patterns, a shaft of light through a window, or the name of your theater. They are also used out of focus to produce interesting texture in the light. Lighting designer 101 is a bunch of instruments with Jungle Leaf gobos way out of focus. It doesn't produce a clear pattern but it makes the light look more realistic and interesting to the eye.

    Secondly you have your rotators. Rosco, Apollo, and Gam all make good ones. They come in single and double. This means one or two gobos. You can spin them in different ways. The best (i.e. most expensive) rotators allow you to rotate two gobos in different directions at different speeds and stop them at specific locations (a feature called indexing that is often not important but occasionally critical). By varying the speed and direction of rotation you create a wide variety of effects. You can further alter the look by changing which of the two gobos is in focus. Finally if you really want a cool look you throw a static gobo in the gobo slot while the rotator is going. Again adjusting focus, speeds and directions.

    For a great tool to get a feel for how this looks check out this website. This tool lets you choose two rotating gobos and a static gobo, rotate them, play with focus and even gel color.

    Also go check out the Creative F/X Guide from Apollo. They show you a variety of recipes for specific effects and a video of what it actually looks like.

    The Rosco Infinity is a completely different beast. It sits in the gel frame slot far out of the instrument's ability to focus. It's a great way to put some movement into a scene without making it spin. For example a leaf gobo in the static slot and the right wheel in the Inifinty and the leaves will blow around in the breeze a bit. I used it them some really cool rain in my last show by using it with a static gobo.

    Finally there are some unique products like the Apollo Smart Move Vertical, the Gam Film Fx, and the Rosco X-effects. All do very specific effects really well but are pricey and sort of limited. With a little practice you can get effects almost as good out of a rotator.

    Finally there is the Rosco Image Pro and the Selecon Pacific. The image pro is a kit that allows you to print your own color gobos on special media in your printer. It goes into a cooling device that holds your color gobo. These are pretty good but the special media costs around $5-$10 a gobo I think (that may be wrong). A more expensive initially but better in the long run option, is using a properly equipped Selecon Pacific ellipsoidal lighting instrument. With the right lamp setup and a special heat shield you can print your own gobos on standard color transparency film that you buy at the office store for about a buck a sheet.

    That's all for now I'm tired. Maybe somebody else can talk about the actual materials,steel, glass, custom, dichroics, texture glass, donuts, etc...
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  3. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    Nice work Gafftaper, I believe we owe you a bit of thanks for a well stated summary! (Are you working towards a degree in marketing??? :) )

    Jmac, there are many effects that can be achieved with each device mentioned by Gafftaper. These effects become significantly more interesting when two or more systems are used together, but that may be quite obvious or even redundant.

    The good mechanic has a tool box with a selection of tools for specific jobs while the great mechanic knows each of his/her tools has several uses. Each set of tools may be similar to some degree, but the mind using them makes all the difference. And THAT is art.

    Great thread, keep 'em coming!
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Well Keith I maybe looking for another job in about 2 years but that's a long painful story...

    So Just a few more thoughts on gobos themselves.

    Gobos are produced by Rosco, Apollo, and Gam primarily plus a few smaller companies. You'll find all have similar catalogs of gobos but they don't look exactly the same. Sometimes just the right look is made by combining gobos from differnet manufacturers. You'll find full catalogs on their websites.

    You've got your basic steel gobo. They do burn through depending on the instrument, wattage, pattern, and amount of use.

    You can order a custom made steel gobo from any of the manufacturers. They cost around $40 if I remember right and can be delivered fairly quickly.

    Glass gobos have opened up an amazing new world. Take a look at the catalogs of the big three and you'll find a lot of really interesting glass gobos. Some are clear and only provide texture. Some are color only. Some are color and texture. These often use dichroic glass which is like a permanent gel that will never fade. Some amazing looks can be created using these textured glass gobos in combination with steel in rotators. Go back to those videos on the Apollo site for ideas. Rosco has some recipies on their site as well on this page scroll down a way to find the gobo section. Check out this one in particular to see an example of a lot of gobos working together.

    Donuts are not for eating. Donuts are piece of metal that go in the color frame slot at the end of the instrument. They have a hole in the middle. The light shoots through the hole, Some light coming out at slightly stray angles is prevented from leaving the fixture. This creates a much sharper image from your gobo than without the Donut.

    ETC's new enhanced definition lens tubes don't require Donuts... but they are expensive. Selecon Pacific's optics are better quality than ETC's standard lens optics. Although they aren't as good as an ETC EDLT lens, they are about the same as a standard ETC lens with a Donut. So again, we are back to those cool instruments from New Zealand. I purchased 8 for my inventory just for working with gobos and give them a big thumb's up.

    Any questions?
  5. jmac

    jmac Member

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    Thanks, Gafftaper. Great Gobo 101 summary. Very helpful. Another question, implementing "your method". With a few scrollers, and maybe a rotator and/or ICue or two, do I get to a point where I need more control board than the Leprecons we are usually allowed to rent?? What is the minimum level needed to make programming easy enough, w/o going up to an Ion?
  6. jmac

    jmac Member

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    Keith, since you're here, a couple questions specifically for Apollo stuff, a little off topic-

    Does the Smart Move DMX allow different variable speeds for both rotators, and is that important? The Gam Twin Spin appears to offer this, at least the one w/ two motors, but the Apollo specs. are not clear on this.

    I just got five (4 years old, but never used) Smart Colors w/ 150W power supply. Old manual says the PS will handle 6 SC's, but new one looks like only 5 (?). I would like to add another if feasible. Book says they draw 1.0A on high speed scroll, and 0.7A on low speed scroll, which looks like 6 at high or 8 on low should be ok??.

    Also, will your PS work with Rosco ICue's, in addition to Smart Moves?

    I understand the need to keep cable runs short and provide return line to PS. Question- if I'm careful not to scroll all SC's at the same time, can I get by powering 5-6 SC's plus a couple SM's and couple ICue's, or do I really need another PS?

    Also, the book says ok to run SC fans on low unless using 1000W lamps. Is it best to run SC fans on high anyway, with 500W or 575W lamps? Thanks.
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Yeah you'll be a lot happier if you can move up to a better board. You sound like one of the many "inbetweeners" out there. If you search CB you'll find some long rants from me on this topic. Ion would be great for you but you can't afford it. Smartfade doesn't meet your needs.

    A Strand Basic Palette (probably with a channel upgrade) is in my opinion the only product out there that meets the needs of the "inbetween" people. You'll find it MUCH easier to deal with intelligent gear. You can get one with a street price of a little over $4k depending on a variety of factors... about $2k less than Ion with a fader wing.

    Waiting a few months, ETC is going to release a new console sometime this year. There are very few details on it out yet. But it's definitely coming out to target the small school, church, community theater market. We are expecting it to fit nicely between Smartfade and Ion in it's abilities and probably cost around the same as Basic Palette. Other than that we have to wait and see.

    There are a lot of other consoles out there that are great. Some will make working with intelligent lighting easier but are priced as much (or more:shock:) than Ion. Others are priced less than Basic Palette but don't have the new generation of features to make intelligent lighting products easier to work with. If you want those new features you simply have to pay more than $4k to get them.
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    I'll leave your other questions for Keith to answer but, let me give you my opinion on motors. There are a variety of motor configurations in rotators. I wouldn't purchase a gobo rotator that doesn't have dual motors with independent speed and direction control. For some effects it doesn't matter. But for many effects you just won't get the look you want without being able to fine tweak the speed of both gobos.

    Also I want to point out a friend of mine has the theory that schools should never buy a rotator. They are expensive and somewhat fragile and how often do you really need to use one? You can usually rent them for about $50 for the complete run of a show. Just as Derek is always pushing that it makes far more sense for schools to rent moving lights, my friend says rent rotators. I'm not a 100% believer in this theory as sometimes the money is available to buy equipment once but not to rent on a yearly basis, but I can't argue with it either.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  9. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    Jmac, thanks for your pertinent questions!

    Yes, the older owner’s manual indicates 6 Smart Colors, whereas the newer manual states 5. The older PSUs and SmartColor scrollers would walk on the edge of maxing out the available 24 VDC power when fans were set on high and scrolling speed was full blast. When power is managed with lower scrolling speeds, short cable runs, and lower fan speeds (depending upon the fixture wattage), more units may be continually run w/o issues.

    The new Apollo 200W, 400W, and 600W PSUs are wired a little differently with additional circuit protection and self-healing temperature overload. These latest items are listed on the Apollo website.

    Regarding accessories compatible with the SmartColor scroller and SmartPower PSU, the rule of thumb is fairly simple:
    The family of accessories that do NOT work with Wybron Color Ram scrollers (or Wybron IT products) will work with Apollo Smart Color, Smart Power, Smart Move, Spectra Q, Chroma Q, and Rosco I-cue with rotators. The pin configuration of the 4-pin XLR will be the determining factor when choosing compatible accessories.

    At this time Smart Move rotators (Smart Move Jr, Smart Move, Smart Move DMX are value priced at $395, $415, and $495 MSRP respectively) employ only one motor per unit. As a comparison, the dual motor rotator from GAM has an MSRP of $945.00 Our marketing research showed a very small segment willing to purchase a rotator for $900+. Would a theater/school rent a unit for a week or two? Sure. The trick is convincing the local rental house to spend that kind of cash now for a possible rental in the future. This is the battle most moving light companies face when new fixtures become available.

    If I may of any help, I am at your service. Just ask! :)
  10. jmac

    jmac Member

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    Probably a valid point. My problem, w/o a home facility, and using full rental for a typical two weekend run, I can't get familiar with all this stuff, because I can't put it on the rental order if we don't need it, and I can't need it if I don't know what to do with it...

    So, after becoming familiar with the famous Gafftaper Method here at CB, I've decided to buy a few things to try on my own, get familiar with them, have some fun learning, and hopefully incorporate into the next show, if applicable/useful. Since it's coming out of my pocket, I've been buying used stuff on ebay, with good luck so far. So far, got the 5 like-new scrollers and a Rosco Infinity... Eventually, of course, if this economy doesn't turn around, I may have to sell it all back before long.

    Another question- if you are using a gobo to project say a window, how do you get it the right size? I guess you can roughly figure the beam as usual, but I would think it is hard to figure it exact. No?? Is it best to be using a zoom, so you can adjust it just right? I would hate to show up with a 5' high window, when everyone is expecting one 10' high. What is the trick here??

    Thanks, again.
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    I believe the Street price on that SmartMove DMX is around $425. The street price on the Rosco rotator with two motors and DMX control is about $625. Remember you also have to consider the cost of the power supply, the DMX Cable, and the 4pin DMX plus Power "scroller" cable. Two rotators with independent control, power supply, and cables are going to set you back about $2k (about $1,600 without independent control). Which is exactly why my friend says schools should rent.

    If you don't need DMX control and you aren't worried about two motors the Apollo Smartmove, the Rosco Vortex 360, and the Gam Twinspin all have completely free standing units that have a wall wart for power. So there are no additional costs beyond the cost of the rotator itself with these units. These are all good products, but as I said, I find independent control really important. But it's a whole other level of expense. These three have slightly different features and prices are different so shop around and compare the features carefully.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  12. jmac

    jmac Member

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    As I am just trying to get my feet wet, I can probably live w/o the two-motor version. If I understand correctly, the Smart Move DMX model should work with the Apollo power supply that came with my Smart Colors, if I'm careful not to overload it. Next step is trying to get some used scroller cables from one of the rental companies...
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Pay careful attention to the fixture's photometric performance, and ideally have available one lens tube wider and one lens tube narrower than the one calculated. Also, you might be able to move the fixture closer or farther. As for zooms, I've yet to see one that will sharply project a gobo at all of its settings. However, except for logos and text, it is often more interesting to use a gobo slightly out of focus, rather than razor-sharp.
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Selecon Pacific Zooms baby! Yes I admit it's not 100% all the way through and it's not as sharp as a S4 EDLT. But it beats everything else out there. Everyone should have a few in their arsenal just for gobos.
  15. jmac

    jmac Member

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    What does a Pacific Zoom cost compared to a S4 Zoom?

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