Gobos, short for “go-between optics,” are small, customizable stencils that are placed in front of a lighting source to project a particular image or pattern onto a surface. Gobos are widely used in the entertainment industry, particularly in theatrical productions, concerts, and corporate events, to create unique lighting effects and transform the look and feel of a venue.

Gobos can be made from a variety of materials, including glass, metal, and plastic, and can feature intricate designs, logos, or abstract patterns. They are inserted into a Gobo holder or rotator and placed in front of a light source, such as a spotlight or Gobo projector. When the light shines through the gobo, the image or pattern is projected onto a surface, such as a wall, ceiling, or stage. Gobos are versatile and can be used to achieve a range of effects, from adding texture and depth to a scene to creating a dramatic focal point. They can also be used to brand an event or create a specific atmosphere, such as a winter wonderland or a starry night sky.

While gobos were originally used exclusively in the entertainment industry, they have since found applications in other fields, such as advertising, architecture, and retail. Gobos can be used to project logos and branding onto the sides of buildings, create visual displays in store windows, or add an element of design to public spaces. With their versatility and customization options, gobos have become a popular tool for creative expression in a range of industries.

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The history of gobos can be traced back to the early 20th century, when the first gobo projector was invented by a German physicist named Hans Poelzig in 1910. The original gobo was a small metal plate with a pattern or design cut out of it. These metal gobos were then placed in front of a light source to project the pattern onto a surface. In the 1930s, glass gobos were introduced, which allowed for more intricate and detailed designs.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the use of gobos became increasingly popular in the entertainment industry, particularly in theater and film. Gobos were used to create various effects, such as simulating sunlight, moonlight, and even the appearance of moving water.

With the advent of modern technology, gobos can now be made using various materials such as metal, glass, and plastic. The designs can be created using lasers or computer software, and they can be used in a wide range of lighting applications, from concerts and theater productions to architectural lighting and corporate events. Today, gobos are an essential tool for lighting designers, allowing them to create stunning visual effects and set the mood for any event or production.


Gobos can be classified into two main types: metal gobos and glass gobos.

  • Metal Gobos: Metal gobos are made of thin sheets of metal, usually steel or aluminum. They are cut using a laser or other high-precision cutting tool, creating a stencil-like pattern. Metal gobos are durable and can withstand high temperatures, making them suitable for use with high-powered lighting fixtures. They are often used in theater productions, concerts, and other live events.
  • Glass Gobos: Glass gobos are made by printing a design onto a glass disc or slide. They are less durable than metal gobos and are more susceptible to heat damage, so they are typically used with lower-powered lighting fixtures. Glass gobos can produce more detailed images and are often used for logos, graphics, and other complex designs.
  • There are also a few sub-categories of gobos, such as colored gobos and rotating gobos. Colored gobos use colored glass or filters to add a tint or hue to the projected image while rotating gobos spin around to create dynamic, moving patterns of light.

    Advantages of gobos

    Gobos offers several advantages in the world of lighting and projection. Here are some of them:

  • Customization: Gobos can be customized to project any pattern, image, or text, allowing for unique and creative lighting designs that can be tailored to a particular event or occasion.
  • Versatility: Gobos can be used in a variety of lighting and projection applications, including stage productions, concerts, corporate events, weddings, and more.
  • Cost-effective: Gobos are a cost-effective way to add visual interest to a space or event. They can transform a plain wall or stage backdrop into a work of art without the need for expensive props or decorations.
  • Flexibility: Gobos can be easily swapped out and changed, allowing for quick and seamless transitions between different lighting designs or themes.
  • Efficiency: Gobos are highly efficient, requiring less energy than other lighting methods, such as video projection.
  • Precision: Gobos allows for precise control over the size, shape, and placement of projected images, ensuring that the desired effect is achieved.
  • All things considered, gobos offer a flexible and affordable way to add visual interest and creativity to a setting or event, as well as precise control and customization options.

    Manufacturers of Gobos

    There are several manufacturers of gobos, including:

  • Rosco: Rosco is a leading manufacturer of lighting filters and gobos. They offer a wide range of standard gobos as well as custom gobos.
  • Apollo Design Technology: Apollo is another well-known manufacturer of gobos. They offer a variety of gobos, including standard metal gobos, glass gobos, and custom gobos.
  • DHA Lighting: DHA Lighting is a UK-based manufacturer of gobos. They offer a range of gobos, including custom gobos, image projection gobos, and animated gobos.
  • GAM Products Inc.: GAM Products is a US-based manufacturer of lighting equipment, including gobos. They offer a variety of gobos, including steel gobos, glass gobos, and custom gobos.
  • GoboPlus: GoboPlus is a UK-based manufacturer of gobos. They offer a range of standard gobos as well as custom gobos.
  • LightRider: LightRider is a US-based manufacturer of gobos. They offer a variety of standard metal gobos as well as custom gobos.
  • BJ-InnoLight Technology: BJ-InnoLight Technology is a China-based manufacturer of gobos. They offer a range of standard and custom gobos.
  • These are just a few examples of the many manufacturers of gobos available on the market. When choosing a gobo manufacturer, it’s important to consider factors such as quality, price, and turnaround time for custom gobos.


    What materials are gobos made of?
    Gobos can be made of various materials, such as glass, steel, plastic, and even foam. Glass and steel gobos are more durable and produce better-quality images, but they are also more expensive.

    Can I use my own design for a gobo?
    Yes, you can create your own design for a gobo. Some manufacturers offer custom Gobo services, where you can submit your own artwork or logo to be turned into a Gobo.

    What kind of fixtures can I use with gobos?
    Gobos can be used with various lighting fixtures, including profile fixtures, ellipsoidal spotlights, and even some LED lights.

    How long do gobos last?
    The lifespan of a gobo depends on the material it is made of and how often it is used. Steel and glass gobos can last for hundreds of hours, while plastic gobos may only last for a few dozen hours.

    Are there different sizes of gobos?
    Yes, gobos come in various sizes to fit different types of lighting fixtures. The most common sizes are “A” size (for ellipsoidal spotlights) and “B” size (for profile fixtures).

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