Light a London Landmark: the judges have decided

The closing date for entry was 30th September, so if you’re still trying to puzzle out just how to get that image out of your head and onto the side of The National Theatre, you’re too late. Sorry.


I was lucky enough to be invited to the Rosco offices to see how the judging process was coming along and – if I hadn’t been sworn to secrecy, I’d be telling you a GREAT story.

It also gave me the opportunity to see how the modern gobo is made, and we’ve come a long way from the early days of David Hersey and his iconic DHA gobo brand.

We’ve come a long way since the static stainless steel gobo threw static dappled light across the stages of The National Theatre – though that simple image still retains i’ts allure, though we’re as likely to see it in public realm these days. And we’re now looking at dynamic images through multiple gobo manipullation and moveable projector heads.

Coming back to the Competition, these were the technical parameters laid down for the entrants to Light A London Landmark.

  • The elevation of The National Theatre to be lit was established. Its the western elevation, as seen from Waterloo Bridge.
  • The projection will be generated from a Martin EP1000 exterior image projector, which has slots for 7 gobos, an animation system and a morphing facility and rotating prisms, so quite an imaginative beast.
  • The gobos will be supplied by GoboPlus and made by Rosco, using their superior Custom Glass technique.
The ‘line-it-up’ template for the gobo designers

And how it will look in the ‘real world’
Martin EP1000 projector

The brief and requirements to designers were very simple:

  1. Design a visual concept for a gobo using the Martin EP1000 projector, inspired by the theme of Unlikely Connections (this theme was decided on after looking at the productions happening in the theatre at the time of the event).
  2. Provide up to 4 renders showing the concept, as the projected image would appear from the judge’s viewpoint.
  3. Provide a programming brief for a 2-minute time slot, that uses the effects and features of the EP1000.
  4. Provide the gobo design ‘fit for manufacture’ using the prescribed template
  5. Provide a 300 character description of the concept.

A series of workshops was run for entrants to introduce them to the possibilities within the gobo universe. Clearly, everyone had a lot of fun.

It was the making of a gobo that I really wanted to take a look at. We’re very familiar with including photographic images in on-line pieces like this and how far we can exploit an image size to avoid pixelation. Most of the time, the images that we’re using are larger than they eventually appear on the screen. But with gobos . . . its completely the reverse. A gobo is likely to be less than 50mm in diameter when you hold it in your hand. Put it in a projector, switch it on and, suddenly, you’re looking at an image that might be 20m across. That doesn’t leave an awful lot of tolerance for any ‘I’m-sure-that’ll-do’ thinking. Because it most certainly won’t.

The gobos are made using an equivalent of CMYK printing. There are the three colours, cyan, magenta and yellow, with a Key layer if required. Its Subtractive Colour Mixing, so as the primary collours mix, they mix to Black (not White, as we’re used to thinking about light mixing. To get your head around that, think pigments, not Light.

A CYMK image showing the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow layering. (images courtesy of Rosco)

After an exciting day seeing the practicalities of gobo-making – and knowing what’s to come, has left me having to wait impatiently for the presentation of the 6 finalists at The National Theatre, London on Thursday 6th November.

There are a limited number of tickets for the event so you REALLY need to register ASAP to guarantee your place. And who wouldn’t want to be there to see something on such a majestic scale.

Click on the banner below for Registration information.

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