Active Member
Hey guys, I'm new to these forums and somewhat new to the lighting scene. So far I've been LD for three shows (West Side Story, our intelligently-lit Talent Show, and the recent Miracle Worker), but I've never gotten any formal training of any time, either from students or professionals.

But meanwhile, we have a new director who wants all of the shows next year to be crazy lighting shows, and being a professional from the DC area as well as Broadway, he has some pretty...intense expectations.

Rrecently I've run across the topic of gobos, radial breakups, etc. etc. I know basically how/when to use them, but I think when I'm designing too often I just don't even think of how they could be applied to a scene.

So, just worth a shot, any tips/hints you guys have as far as gobos go? When to use them, which ones, position, etc? I realize this question might be a little vague, but considering I keep on seeing photographs of cooler and more complex gobo usages I figured I'd ask...


Well-Known Member
It would be very difficult to offer advise on such a broad scale that would be of any help.

Specific questions however will result in concrete answers.

The one true bit about gobo usage... anything goes.


Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
I'll second Bill on that one, but gobos help easily give movement to light (and NOT the type of movement that a mover gives). Light in the real world is rarely a source and nothing blocking it. Its coming through trees, windows and reflecting off nearly everything. I never do a show without some sort of template system. It helps break up the stage and give a bit of interest to the actors body as they move.

Then there is areils which is a whole different ballgame.


Active Member
I can't really give any advice on which gobos to use because there are literally thousands of gobos on the market. go to the websites of some of the major manufacturers (Roso, GAM, Apollo) you can probably download/order their catalogues for free.

In terms of when to use them its largly up to you. There are certain faitly obvious choices like you need to see the moon, or a window or something. Other than that think of anytime you would want the light to have more texture, more contrasting light and shadow to walk through. Remember, you can manipulate how much the audience is aware of the gobo by adjusting how hard soft the focus of the unit is. If you are using a leaf rbeak-up in a forest scene you would want to use a soft focus because when you are in a real forest its not like you see the shadows of individual leaves. Get the idea? Play around with it, gobo when well used are pretty rad.



As others have stated, this is difficult to answer in that there are so many choices of gobos and myriad applications. As a rule of thumb, we try to use breakup in each "night" scene to reinforce moonlight through the trees, windows or what-have-you.

Generally, we try to avoid the more specific object based gobo (the Eifel Tower, stars and such), and gave up on using them as scenery in that they rarely look good.

As suggested, you might want to go online and look at the available gobos from Rosco, GAM and Apollo. GAM even lets you experiment with effects through their "virtual twin-spin". We have had some good luck with this in making intelligent choices and have also auditioned some of their SFX film loops prior to making choices. To get more information on this, call Rebel Hoffman at GAM.

One concern that you need to address is that each instrument that uses a gobo very likely will lose other functionality and if you have a limited number of fixtures you may be losing visibility for the sake of mood or effect.

Best wishes,



Well-Known Member
I do believe that we have an employee of Apollo on this forum, and they'd be glad to have someone send you their entire catalog of gobos, breakups, dichroics, crushed dichroics, color scrollers, etc. We put all the awesome posters of gobos that they sent us up on the walls of the booth and are currently trying to convince the director that she still has some budget left to get us some. I just think that some basic breakups would be awesome for our dance show coming up. If only we could get some. (This is where I need to check out the local theaters/colleges to see if I can borrow some of their stock.)

I think that some CXi scrollers (in addition to some twin-spins) would be a good addition if your director is crazy lighting-wise and you have the budget. With double scrolls, you can make tens or hundreds of different colors.
Everyone else has said it, I couldn't give you anything new than what has been said.

If you have another theater near you that has a collection of gobos, borrow some from them and play around "in your free time." See how they focus what looks good in your space.

for some interesting light use Crush Dichorics. They can do great things with Rotators.

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