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Gobos History

Decent Essays
When reading the first chapter assigned to the class, chapter 14 in Scene Design and Stage Lighting, I did a double take when the authors (R. Craig Wolf, and Dick Block) introduced gobos as a “blatant” way to create texture (314). Having been around theatre for the majority of my life, I was familiar with gobos, and how they could make patterns or pictures on stage, but never once did I think about the technique or the history behind these lighting contraptions. It turns out, Gobos have been around since the early stages of electrical stage lighting and have become a staple in lighting designs. As lighting has become more advanced, gobos are now available in different materials which offer different uses, as well as benefits, and limitations.…show more content…
Joseph Swan, English physicist and chemist, is credited for the first primitive lightbulb in 1860. Twenty-years later (1880), Swan and the infamous inventor, Thomas A. Edison, produced the practical lightbulb (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 3). By 1881, “ Swan’s lighting was first used in the Savoy Theatre, located in London, England, (the home of the Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas). The use of electrical lighting birthed many new inventions including the ellipsoidal reflector spotlight (ERS) by 1933. The mechanics of the ERS, made way for the invention of gobos. “The ERS was built with slots for filters, shutters and objects to cast shapes or block off parts of the stage” (Spoors, 7)). While operating the ERS, demanding stage managers would call for “Go Blackout” cues, and eventually these cues were shortened to the term gobo (“GO BlackOut”), referring to the shutter dropped down in front of the beam. With time, stagehands discovered they could make textures, shapes, and depth, by cutting shapes/pictures into the shutters for the ERS. Today, the common definition for gobos is now “GOes Before Optic”(Spoors, 7) referring to the location of the gobo on lighting instruments. It is amazing how much work, and experimentation involved in the world of…show more content…
Gobos can not only vary in the picture/texture it is intending to display (which can be customized by the artist) but in how they display those images due to their composition, size, and gobo holder. More commonly, gobos are made out of steel, or glass, but they can also be made out of less common materials such as plastic (I did find a site that discussed wood and fabric gobos, but that seemed strange to me). Steel gobos allows for a sharper images (in combination with colored gels), whereas, glass and plastic gobos are used for coloration and texture. The benefits of a steel gobo is the ability to get those clear images, however, “in general, you do not see this in the image unless you focus it incredibly sharpley and are looking for it” (Stage Lighting Store, 2).However, steel gobos require “tabbing” (with gobo holders) in order for the gobos to stay in place (Stage Lighting Store 2), and can melt over time (Stage Spot, 7)). Conversely, glass and plastic gobos allow for more transparency, allowing the designer to have multiple colors. Furthermore, plastic gobos can only be used in LED units (as they will melt in other instruments), but are cheap and easily made, (Stage Lighting Store, 3-4).Gobos also
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