"Star Field" making

Our cyc is around 20+ feet high, and prolly a good fifty plus feet wide, and there is a need for a 'star field' effect for the upcoming show... Ive tried gobo's in our ERS's that Ive made with pie tins and a nail to punch through, either I get the hole to small, and it doesnt go through the metal, or to big and it looks like a friggan lighthouse or something, or I get it just about right, but many of the holes in the metal arent square shaped or round shaped anymore, and look like uh, odd geometric shapes, quite unlike stars... I'm going for a 'night sky' effect, using strips on my last electric batton with deep blue gels for the 'color' but I need to get a star effect across the whole cyc. Using ERS's and gobos Ive gotten select spots that SORT of work, but also, they're way to small... Ive only got four ERS's to cover the whole cyc. Im thinking of moving them even farther back away from the cyc but that means finding a way to make smaller holes in the gobos without mesisng up...
Ive tried using a mirror ball also, while getting GREAT spread from just one instrument, and a rather nice intensity, the shapes produced by mirroring a par64 instument, or an ers just turn out to be blotches of light, circular and prolly close to a foot in diameter near the edges of the cyc.
What can I do to make a better gobo, or some other way of projecting an image of the stars and a night sky?
Hi Joren,

There was a post in this forum recently titled "Star Cloth" which explored various methods for what you are trying to do. More related to the use of bud or christmas lights being used infront of the rear black but you may find this useful.

I have not really had that much experience using gobos but I would imagine that focus would play a heavy part in getting the stars to the size that you want as opposed to looking like follow spots.

One advantage of using the christmas lights is that if you (and you would need to) use several strings, you can dime them or even chase them if so desired.

Let us know how you get on.
Problem is, man hours required for the christmas light idea, and the um, aquirement of the 'extra' cloth. Thats a lot of cloth.
We cant poke through the cyc, its the only one we've got, and uhm, any other cloth that we have is white, with much paitn upon it, and many many splotches of dry paint. not to mention, quite a SMALL size selection. It would require more work than my whole crew has time for, let alone myself.
Thanks for the sugestion though...
If I had more than till this friday to work on it (not to mention SCHOOL and um rehersals, and the school closing at 11:30pm) I might be able to get it done, but uhg
Probably not going to be much help - but I would advocate hanging the christmas lights in front of the black, rather that cutting holes and poking the lamps through the holes. May need to put a few stiches in place but nowhere near the amount of time to cut and poke.

Are there any schools close by that may be able to lend you one?

Good luck!
I would advise not attaching lights to anything you want to keep because it will trash them. Instead perhaps try this:
Just a quick thought. When there is clouds in the sky does it interrupt the view of stars or do the stars shine thru? In other words, when it’s a cloudy night, perhaps you only get blotches of stars and not the entire sky full of them. If you can’t rent or borrow a star drop or fiber optic drape, your budgeting of time and thinking it not prudent to attach anything to the cyc would be correct. Instead, just make the best use of what you have. Choose the widest focus Leko pattern projectors in stock, and hold one of them in your hands in walking up and down stage to achieve the best balance between area covered and size of projection than hang the lights as close to that optimum position as possible. Remember that you don’t have to cover the entre cyc with stars, you can start from half way up in making your horizon higher, and make it blotchy with what’s shining thru the clouds. Perhaps even lightly focus some pinks and whites at the cyc washed in blue to simulate or show clouds. Anything you have spare and laying around that will direct light without too much spill into say the center of the areas not lit by the star field. Perhaps even do shutter cuts or cover up some of the projected stars with Gam Wrap/Black Wrap so you get less of a square or circle projection and more of a oval or even Z shape to them. The idea - dependant upon the show of course, but the idea would be to convey the idea of stars, less can be more. Raising the horizon off the stage will also allow you to keep the projection range shorter and more balanced between the top and bottom of the cyc. Four Fekos you have, Four Lekos should be more than enough depending upon the beam angle. Three Lekos you have Three Lekos you make do with. One Leko.... in the end, it’s what you have time for and can accomplish and cost effectively do.
I just made a star-field for my school using the Christmas light method, and it worked very well. We bought the lights as well as a pice of fabric, I guess thats what you would call it, that has 1 inch squared holes. Then we just took the Christmas lights and attached them to the fabric with, ugh, I'm forgetting the name of the things, the plastic ties that you can never take off without cutting.... Anyway, that worked out very well. We used 3 strands of lights so far, and it took me and one of the mothers about 15 or 20 minuets to do it once we realized what we were doing. Granted that our star-field now only covers approx. a space 10 x 8 feet, but with a few more people and a few more lights you could make it rather quickly. We are also going to put all of this behind a black scrim, so it will be hidden when not in use.
ship said:
I would advise not attaching lights to anything you want to keep because it will trash them.

Ship is correct and upon reflection, my post may not be all that clear as we use different Christmas lights (as Ship and I have briefly discusses in another post). Our lights stick out an inch or so from the main wire and if you bunch a little bit of wire above and below the light, you can increase the length so that when you are finished, the lights are a couple of inches away from the fabric. e.g., __|__|__|__

Also, I think that our lights may run a little cooler that yours but I am sure that this method is possible to do without damaging your fabric.

I would personally give Ship's suggestion a try as it sound like it will produce a nice effect and something different.

zac850 said:
I just made a star-field for my school using the Christmas light method, and it worked very well. We bought the lights as well as a pice of fabric, I guess thats what you would call it, that has 1 inch squared holes.

Glad to hear that your star field worked. I would like to get a little more info on the fabric that you used as the only thing that is coming to mind is a net of some description.

I didn't buy the fabric, so I don't know exactly what it was called. The fabric was an extremely loose weave, and there was 1 inch hole in-between the lines. I'll try to find out what it was called and I'll post it up here and tell you.
If you can get a black scrim, hanging the Christmas lights behind the scrim is the simplest. No holes needed.

Of course a fiber-optic drop is ideal and might be rented, depending on the budget.
The mystery fabric which has one inch openings in it is probably opera netting. Sort of like a jumbo super-sized scrim. Typical uses would be to use it as a backing on cut-drops. This way you can cut back and forward along a drop to make an opening and the fabric will not sag. To use opera netting you apply the net to the back, across the area in question and it offers support to the drop. As far as using it for a star drop, it would allow you to tie the lights up to it in a random pattern. Norcostco had a synthetic netting - plastic with 1/2" openings. Relatively cheap, you can glue it with hot-glue or black silicon adhesive.
I've used rotten drapes that were laying around getting more rotten to make star drops before. Just realize that they won't last that long since the fabric is already rotten. Check to make sure the drops you use are flame retardent.
Fiber optic wire can be bought from companies, try ones that offer drops and just get the fibers bundled and terminated into a ferrel. You pay by the foot. You can then poke individual fibers into the fabric glueing it down. Great care must be taken not to melt the fibers with your light source. Fixtures meant for this have specialized heat shields.
Otherwise the large Christmas lights are fun to use as you can unscrew some of them. Then you cover some partially with black electrical tape to make them smaller. The small twinkle lights are better sized, but you must cover lots of the lights up since you cannot unscrew them.
If you havea pipe behind the cyc just use some of the thick chirstmass lights but make sure you can get the ones where they still work if one the bulbs fails. You do not have to put holes in the cyc they will shine through as long as it is not overly light from the front, which it shouldnt be becasue its night. Just hang the strings about 3 or 4 feet apart and take out some bulbs at random it looks very wierd when the stars form a grid. When we do this it looks like a million bucks.

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