Let’s face it. It’s a lot more fun to visit your Caterer or Cake Designer for an afternoon tasting than to visit some hidden warehouse to talk about gel colors, gobos, and  fresnels. What are those things anyways? We can complain about cold chicken any day of the week, but developing a lighting design is a complex, multi-dimensional, exercise that takes talent, skill, and a discerning eye. Yet, despite these intricacies and mood-altering affects, any event’s lighting budget is usually the last to add on and the first to slash.

Sometimes breaking the vocabulary wall in the lighting world can do wonders in the eventual success of an event. So, let’s put the spotlight on some commonly used terms.

Source-4-Leko-Lighting-Instrument-Design-WM-Events-William-Fogler Roscolux-Gels-Lighting-How-To-WM-Events-William-Fogler-Atlanta-Event-Designer

1. Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight (Leko & Source Four)

These fixed lighting instruments collect and direct light through a barrel that contains a lens. ERS instruments come in all shapes and sizes. While each particular model of ERS has its own set of characteristics, every one contains a) an adjustable lens that can change the focus (softness or hardness) of the beam of light projected by the unit, b) a set of brackets on the end of the lens tube for the insertion of gel frames, c) a series of four shutters that allow for precise shaping and sizing of the unit’s beam as lines, and d) a slot for the insertion of metal gobos.

2. Gel

Lighting gel is a transparent thin sheet of polycarbonate or polyester that is placed at the end of a lighting fixture in order tocolor the light. There are a few different companies that manufacture gel, each using a different code to signify the color profile of each piece (like Rosco 39 and GAM 841. Swatch books (as seen above) give lighting designers a better idea of the end result, just like interior designers use paint color pallets. Also similar to painting, it is best to use smaller combination of colors or stay in a color family when lighting your event. Too many oranges, blues, purples, and yellows, and your lighting concept will appear muddled and fight with your decor.

Gobos-Lighting-Event-Design-William-Fogler-Atlanta-WM-Events Gobo-Holder-WM-Events-William-Fogler-Lighting-Design-Atlanta-Denver


Derived from the phrase “Go between”, a gobo is a thin, round piece of metal with patterned holes placed in front of a light source that controls the shape of the light. The gobo stops some light from passing through, while letting the cut out patterncontinue for an interesting effect. Situated at the instrument’s point of focus in a holder (as seen above), the gobo can be crisply focused for logos and details, or softened for patterned breakups or geometric designs. Perhaps you might want to add stars to your venue’s ceiling, or a tree pattern (with green gel) for your jungle themed party. Brides, corporations, and guests of honor can all benefit from having a customized gobo cut for around $100.


4. LED Lights

The items detailed above have been around for a long time, but developing technology seems to be focused in the world of LED lighting instruments (mainly because they have high light output with lower power consumption). LED instruments can contain a number of different colored LEDs, often Red, Green and Blue, and different light output colors can be achieved by adjusting the intensity of each LED color group. LED instruments have a long life relative to other options, without the expense of color gel or replacement lamps. The three types of LEDs are a) Round PAR cans that house a round circuit board of light, b) Strip lights that use a long, narrow source of LEDs, and c) Intelligent LED lights that can move positions around an axis.

Casino Party Ponti Hall Denver Art Museum WM Events
Check in for our next blog post with lighting experts, Todd Finch and Julian Bradley.

-William Fogler
WM Events

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.