Lighting can add a magical element to any event. Whether it is flooding the dance floor with a wash of color, adding projected images to the walls or using lanterns, lighting can set the mood and atmosphere.
Using gobos to project images or names on a tent wall or dance floor also can add a personal touch to events.
While lighting seems like a small thing to add, the mechanics behind proper lighting can be confusing. The gobo, or “go-between,” is a common method of lighting up a tent, whether with images or a color wash. The term “gobo” refers to the projection of a pattern, design, texture, logo, graphic or other such design onto an area of the tent, wall or floor, says Carol Cundey, manager, Eureka! The Tent Co., Binghamton, N.Y.
A gobo is a template, made of metal or glass that is placed into a holder of an ellipsoidal projector lighting instrument, which also is called a leko. The light shines through the template and casts the pattern into the desired area. “You also can add a colored gel to change the color of the pattern projected. Think of a gobo as a paint stencil. Each gobo projector is different and there are different size gobo templates for each size/style of lighting fixture,” Cundey says.
“A good leko is not very expensive, but it is important to pick the right one,” says Tim Cahall, The Main Event, Mount Airy, Md.
“The ETC Source Four is the market leader and a great unit. For party rental companies, I strongly recommend a zoom unit due to the versatility and short throw distances we work with. My personal favorite is the ETC Source Four Jr zoom,” Cahall says.
“Gobos have standard sizes. B is the most common and fits in the S4 and its competitors. The S4 Jr uses M size which is less common. For instance, a customer with a corporate gobo will likely have a B, not an M. Either size costs about the same and is readily available. Resolution is not an issue for the distances that we project,” he says.
“There are a wide variety of gobo projectors on the market, from a very basic white light source to moving head projectors and high power projectors for exterior building work. Understanding the brightness of the light fixture and the distance you want to project will help you choose the proper fixture,” Cundey says.
“If you’re looking to invest in some stock gobo templates, check out eBay online. You may be able to find a deal on a pattern someone only needed for a single event. As always when shopping online, do your research. Make sure you are purchasing the correct size and only shop from trusted, secure sources.”
— Carol Cundey, Eureka! The Tent Co., Binghamton, N.Y.
“The company should leave a lot of extra time on the first couple installs to make sure it looks right. Also, it is best to set the lights/focus after dark, so count on coming back at night for the first couple jobs.”
— Tim Cahall, The Main Event, Mount Airy, Md.
“Lekos have a few standard uses,” says Thomas Markel, president, Bravo Events Expos Displays, Buffalo, N.Y. “Besides being spotlights, they can
double as gobo projectors with the proper size holder. The size of the stop/gobo will depend on the front end used and the length of the throw of the beam to the ceiling, wall or dance floor. Standard front end sizes are 50, 36, 26 and 19.” (See chart)
When it comes to lighting fixtures, Cundey says the adage, “You get what you pay for” is absolutely true. “Due to the nature of the rental business, I would recommend going with a higher end fixture that has the capability to project at longer distances, as you will probably be using the fixture in a variety of settings,” she says.
“For most gobo projectors, there are standard, off-the-shelf patterns available for purchase, anything from words like ‘Congratulations’ to patterns and textures. You can purchase stock patterns to fit just about any theme. In addition, usually for under $100, you can get custom patterns or logos for weddings and corporate work. It is important to remember to order the correct size template, as fixtures are different and gobo template sizes are different,” Cundey says.
“Color wash is the most obvious addition with gobos,” Cahall says. “This can be done with a small investment in small PAR [parabolic aluminized reflector] cans, like the PAR 38, for ground-based lighting, shining up on a tree, for example, and something larger like a PAR 64, Source Four PAR or the OptiPAR, for overall tent lighting. Color wash tent lighting
|LED to the future|
If you offer basic lighting services and you’re trying to add something to maneuver into more special events, then stage lighting could be the answer. If you haven’t made an investment in this area yet, then the light emitting diode (LED) is the future with the best return on investment.
Some of the LED products available today can move to the music or project onto the dance floor. Many can be wired on a circuit and operate by flipping a switch.
We have found that LEDs require less power from generators, which means there is a cost-savings advantage. For instance, six parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR) lights might need 7 amps of power, but six LED PAR lights only need 1.7 amps. They are lighter, making them quicker and easier to install, and have less carbon impact.
Training is helpful when learning how to use LEDs. Bravo Events Expos Displays with Eureka! The Tent Co. will offer a hands-on demonstration session, “Time to Shine with LED Lighting” at the Events & Tents workshop at The Rental Show in Las Vegas. The session, on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 9 a.m., is designed to help people learn how to plug into this technology.
The initial investment for LED lights might cost 50 to 100 percent more, but you won’t need to replace bulbs and LEDs offer more flexibility. Prices also are coming down as the technology advances and the basics can do the job for you.
LED lights can be controlled a number of ways. If you’re putting lights on the perimeter of the tent and on the poles, you have to figure out how to run the wires up the poles and over. Also, wireless transceivers can simplify and speed up installations by eliminating more of the wiring. In addition, you can use a control board to operate several LEDs at a time.
Before you get into basic or more advanced lighting, you have to decide how this might impact your business. For example, does this change mean you are a stage lighting company or a tent company that can do lighting? You can enhance your main revenue stream, but if you get into a different business, you have to run it as such.
Thomas Markel is president of Bravo Events Expos Displays, Buffalo, NY. He can be reached at 716-883-2400 or e-mail email@example.com.
will require special lighting brackets to attach to the tent.”
When hanging a gobo projector in a tent or on a truss system, Cundey says to always make sure they are placed in an area that is not obstructed by center poles, hanging chandeliers or other overhead obstructions. “Remember to use a safety cable when hanging any fixtures. Eureka! offers a patented Scissor Clamp, which was independently load tested to 100 lbs., for hanging lighting. The Scissor Clamp attaches to the lighting fixture, then attaches to the side pole or center pole of the tent. The clamp is then tightened by hand — no tools are necessary — greatly reducing the labor time for installation,”