Rosco Spectrum

Sharing ideas through the prism of Rosco.

Remember you can always find product info on the Rosco website

Tough, Textured Tombstones with Rosco FoamCoat

FoamCoat TombstoneEveryone’s seen the inexpensive foam tombstones that you can buy around Halloween. However, if you’re looking for tombstones that will survive more than one season – here is an easy DIY tombstone recipe from our friends at 4D Modelshop in the UK that uses Rosco FoamCoat to make them much stronger.  Note how using the FoamCoat on the carved tombstones also allowed them to use spray paint on the foam – without melting their carved, ‘foam-made’ masterpiece.

FoamCoat For Gruesome Gargoyles Too

FoamCoat Gargoyles

If you’re aiming your Halloween décor away from the morose and toward the macabre – then use the same FoamCoat techniques above to create gargoyles. Peter Miller from Rutgers University shared this process with us for sculpting lifelike gargoyles out of a block of foam.

FoamCoat in single and 3.5 gallon bucketsFoamCoat is available in single and 3.5 gallon buckets

If your tombstones or gargoyles need to be extra-strong, we suggest three coats of FoamCoat:
• Coat One: One part water to one part FoamCoat. The watered down FoamCoat will seep into the open areas between the foam cells to strengthen the foam.
• Coat Two: Tint the FoamCoat with Off Broadway #5382 Paynes Grey and apply onto the foam to establish a base coat of FoamCoat and color for your project.
• Coat Three: Use the tinted FoamCoat again, this time in a shade lighter and/or darker than the first. Use the third coat to create any desired texture and dimension.

It’s best to let each coat dry for 1-2 hours before applying the next coat. If your third layer is particularly thick and textured, you might want to consider letting it cure overnight before adding any final painted details.

Blood Effects That Stay Wet – Even After They’re Dry

Crystal Gel Bloody Stump

There are several recipes for different blood effects out there – here’s ours: 3 parts Rosco CrystalGel mixed with one part red food coloring. This recipe offers up thick, sculptable, shapable blood effects that dry with a gloss – making the bloody club, or blood spattered wall always appear as if it’s covered in wet, sticky blood and gore.

You can also use the recipe to create coagulated blood effects by making the blood a little darker and coating tissue paper in the CrystalGel mixture to add opacity and a crinkled, molded texture to the effect.  It’s worth noting that this recipe is quite permanent.  It’s great for scenery, props or even costumes that you want to look wet & bloody for many Halloween seasons to come.

If you’ve got any Halloween special effects you’ve created with Rosco products – we’d love to see them! Post them up to Twitter or Instagram and tag them @Rosco_Labs.  Happy Halloween!


1. Show Off Your Awesome Beams of Light

Whether you’re lighting inside a nightclub, a theatre with a few hundred seats or Madison Square Garden, the Rosco V-Hazer provides reliable, smooth haze to capture beams of light to build illuminated texture on any stage.

2. Create Special Effects for Theatre

Using fog on stage is great for obscuring scene changes, concealing an entrance or exit from the stage or creating a visceral mood to wow an audience – and the features inside the Vapour Fog Machine allow it to meet the demands of any production. Sometimes, the fogger needs to be located in tight quarters, such as underneath a platform or inside a piece of scenery. The compact size of the Mini-V Fog Machine makes it the perfect solution for placing a fog machine wherever a scene needs it. All four of the Vapour Series machines have been tested for use in professional theatrical productions and are included under the Equipment-Based Guidelines of the Equity-League Pension and Health Trust Funds.

3. Create Special Effects On-Camera

Whether you’re shooting a feature film, a television show, a music video or a commercial, special effects help create the right atmosphere for the actors and build the world where the story is being told. The continuous operation of the Vapour and the next-to-silent operation of the V-Hazer make both of them an excellent choice for keeping soundstages filled with fog and haze. In a world of “we’ll add it in post,” creating fog effects with a Rosco Vapour fog or haze machine is still the most cost-effective process because a similar effect can be difficult and expensive to lay in digitally. All four of the Rosco Vapour machines comply with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Safety Bulletin #10.

4. Add Spooky Atmospherics Into Haunted Houses & Mazes

There’s nothing scarier than the fear of the unknown, especially when there really is a monster hiding in a cloud of fog right around the corner! The Vapour not only runs continuously to fill haunts and mazes, but it’s also designed with easy-to-use maintenance features that allow it to run for hours on end on chilly October nights.

5. Add a Touch of Mystique Into Your Photography

Adding fog into your photographic imagery will shape light, capture color and add drama into your next photo shoot. The Mini-V is lightweight and simple to use, making it ideal for moving around the studio or toting into a location. The high-volume, continuous output of the Vapour makes it an excellent choice for filling larger spaces and for creating fog in outdoor photographic locations.

6. Excite The Crowd With A Dramatic Entrance

There is no better way to get a crowd fired up for the big game than having the home team make a spectacular entrance through a huge wall of fog. In order to generate the proper impact, the fog effect needs to be big, impressive and fast – the massive burst of the Vapour Plus accomplishes this task perfectly.

7. Create Effective Smoke Simulation for Safety Training

Fire Departments, Military Bases and International Airports are only a few of the agencies that need to create realistic smoke simulation for search & rescue and preparedness training. The Vapour and its continuous output is a great choice to fill indoor spaces like training buildings and trailers. The high-volume output of the Vapour Plus makes it the machine of choice for generating simulated smoke in outdoor training venues.

8. Leak Testing HVAC Ductwork

Eliminating leakage in a building’s HVAC ductwork improves airflow efficiency and helps keep heating and cooling costs down. Introducing fog into the ductwork is the easiest way to identify leaks by making them easily visible. The Mini-V is easy to use, easy to transport and even small enough to fit right inside larger ductwork.

9. Make Some Magic!

If magic really is “smoke and mirrors,” then we’ve got the smoke covered! Add drama to your magical act – no matter how big your stage is. A fast burst of dense, quick dissipating fog from the Vapour Plus using Rosco Stage & Studio Fog Fluid will masquerade the art of making you, your assistant or even a member of the audience disappear and/or reappear (mirrors sold separately).

10. Create Cryogenic-Like Effects

CO2 and other cryogenic fog effects look great but require bulky tanks and hoses. The Vapour Plus produces CO2 like effects using Rosco’s Stage & Studio quick dissipating fluid.  It’s a fraction of the size of most CO2 systems and doesn’t need the cost and hassle of the external tanks.  This easy-to-use machine comes with a unique bottle carriage that enables it to be mounted vertically or horizontally, which allows you to easily aim the fog burst where it’s needed.

No matter how you use fog, there is a Vapour fog or haze machine ready for you:The Mini-V, Vapour, Vapour Plus and V-Hazer

We would love to see any photos or videos you’ve got of our fog machines in action. Post them up on our Facebook page or tweet them to @Rosco_Labs. If you need more technical information on any of these machines, visit the website or contact your local Rosco dealer to arrange a demo today.

Image Courtesy of

Amidst dramatic landscapes and the magical waters flowing from Mount Cavora, families visiting LEGOLAND® Florida have the opportunity to embark on an interactive water ride called “The Quest for CHI.” The park’s design team, striving to bring the LEGO® World of Chima to life, looked for ways to effectively create a mystical liquid energy source called CHI. Needing to be sensitive about the cost and maintenance issues involved with installing water features to create the effect, they turned to Rosco to project their CHI with lighting effects that gave them stunning, realistic results from equipment that was controllable, reliable and easy-to-maintain.

The queue for “Quest for CHI” brings riders into the iconic Lion Temple from the Chima story, where they’ll see Lagravis, king of the Lion tribe, standing guard over the mystical CHI pool. On the wall behind Lagravis a cascade of CHI falls down and feeds into the pool.  Rather than choosing an expensive and difficult-to-maintain water feature, the LEGOLAND designers turned to projected light to create the mystical effect.

In this case, they installed a GAM SX4 with a loop tray and the Fire/Waves FX/Loop into an ETC Source 4 mounted underneath Lagravis’ pedestal to project the cascading CHI onto the wall behind the the LEGO® statue. Thanks to the average lifespan of 4,000 hours of the GAM FX/ Loops inside an SX4, the system provides stunning, easy to maintain effects for any themed environment.

The mystical CHI pool created by Rosco’s X24 Effects projector

The same approach was taken to create the mystical pool of CHI that Lagravis so dutifully defends.  In order to match the projected cascade of CHI that appears to feed into the pool, and to avoid the maintenance issues an actual pool of water would present, the brilliant CHI effect is created using Rosco’s X24 Effects Projector mounted on the ceiling directly above the pool. The X24 allowed the designers to easily control the speed, direction, and beam shape of the effect, while keeping the queue clean, dry, and easy-to-maintain thanks to the X24’s robust mechanical engineering and its 7,000 hour lamp life.

Thanks to design & maintenance crews at LEGOLAND® Florida for assisting Matt DeLong, Rosco’s Market Manager dedicated to the Themed Entertainment market, with capturing the photos & videos and for sharing their story of this installation.

Spring is in the air, and that means production is in full swing all across the globe. Many of you are knee-deep in scenery builds, tech, or performances right now.  We know that much of the work our customers create is truly innovative and deserves to be displayed to a wider audience. Our Share Your Work – Scenic program gives scenic designers and painters an outlet to showcase their work to the world at large – and get rewarded with a unique piece of swag in return.

Share Your Work – Get A Mug!

Here’s a brief description of how the program works:  Visit and fill out the easy form that allows you to upload photos and a brief description of your process to create the project.  In exchange, you will receive a coffee mug featuring Rosco scenic paint. We’ve created an exclusive line of mugs featuring 9 different Rosco paint colors, and everyone who submits gets one.  This is not a contest, nor a raffle – you contribute, you get a mug. Can you get these mugs anywhere else or any other way? Nope. So yeah, it’s kind of special.

Props artisan Haley Polak posing with a mastodon skeleton she created using FoamCoat.

The pictures we receive will be posted into our brand new Rosco Scenic Resource Gallery and, in some cases, might get featured in Rosco’s marketing to scenic customers all over the world.   A props artisan at the Alley Theatre named Haley Polak shared her work with us and was not only featured in a Rosco Spectrum blog post, but also in an email blast that we sent to our databases of theatre, display and event professionals.  This not only gave recognition to Ms. Polak’s scenic accomplishments, it also gave her venue some excellent publicity.

The Rosco Scenic Resource Gallery is designed to be a source of inspiration for scenic artists and technicians.  It allows you to scroll through all of the submitted projects and click on any one that catches your eye to view its details.  As an example, you could click on these pictures from a production of Adam and Eve to learn how Jamie McElrath and Amanda Leigh Smith at the California Institute of the Arts got from here…

to here…

using chip brushes, Off Broadway paint, hudson sprayers, and handmade foam stamps coated with FoamCoat.

In order to make the gallery as useful as possible, we hope the photos you submit will show your process, step-by-step, through to a final production shot. This way, your colleagues around the globe can admire your work, learn from your process and get inspired to try similar techniques in their own projects.  The form also has a description field that allows you to describe your process and the steps you took to arrive at the finished scenic pieces.

An example of a great submission that will make our Rosco Scenic Gallery a helpful tool for everyone came from Oklahoma State’s production of Noises Off.

They included three shots to show their process:

A description that explains their work using Rosco CrystalGel and Off Broadway paint:

During our fall season at Oklahoma State University we staged a production of “Noises Off.” Required for the set was a stained glass bay window. To create the stained glass effect we used Rosco Crystal Gel as follows:

1. Begin with a sheet of plain plexiglass cut to size.

2. Use caulking to create the boundaries of the “panes” of stained glass.

3. Apply CrystalGel with brush within panes to create desired stained glass texture. Be sure not to leave any spots without texture, as they will stand out dramatically. Let dry.

4. Apply mixture of Rosco Off Broadway Scenic Paint and CrystalGel on top of first coat, creating the same texture. Let dry.

5. Install finished “stained glass” window.

And two shots showcasing the finished product:

We are continually impressed with the pay-it-forward attitude of our community. Your eagerness to teach and learn from each other is inspiring, as is the work itself!  Thank you for sharing your work with us.  Your images will help us turn the Rosco Scenic Resource Gallery into a compelling and inspiring webtool for scenic artisans.  We hope you’ll think of us fondly as you enjoy your favorite beverage in your very own Rosco scenic paint mug.  Click here to start sharing your work today.

Pink singing “Over the Rainbow” at the 86th annual Academy Awards®

Whether it’s used to create the verdant fields and forests of Oz or the Emerald City itself, the color green can be used to evoke emotion and create a time & place on stage.  We’ll showcase this hue by focusing on three shows set in the land of Oz – The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz and Wicked.

The color green is effectively used two ways in the original Wizard of Oz – the Emerald City and, of course, the skin tone of the Wicked Witch.  Who can forget Margaret Hamilton in the iconic 1939 film as the Wicked Witch of the West and her frightening green face?

According to “Playbill,” The Wizard of Oz is continually on the top-ten list of musicals produced by high schools.  So, chances are, someone you know is probably about to mount a production and paint some sort of set or drop for the Emerald City.

ThunderRidge High School’s 2013 production of “The Wizard of Oz”

We don’t call it Emerald Green for nothin’!  Both Off Broadway #5364 and Supersaturated #5972 Emerald Green are great, vibrant choices for creating the Emerald City.  If you want to make the green even more eye-popping, or if you’re looking for an electrifying highlight/accent color, try VividFX #6261 Electric Green – either on its own, or mixed with the Emerald Green, to give your Emerald City a visual boost.

The Emerald City of Oz from “The Wiz” looking a lot like New York City.

The Wizard of Oz was adapted into The Wiz in 1978.  For the number “Green, Red, Gold” as the foursome entered the Emerald City, the set contained pyramids and platforms constructed with milk-plexi lit from below with thousands of standard A-lamps dipped in Rosco Colorine Cardinal Red, Canary Yellow and, of course, Emerald Green.  This allowed the filmmakers to change the color of the set from green – to red – to gold by dimming up the proper bulbs. Color-changing scenery in the 70’s!

Watch Emerald City Sequence – Green, Red, Gold in Music | View More Free Videos Online at

Today, the color-changing effect in “Green, Red, Gold” could be created using color-changing LED fixtures, like Rosco’s Miro Cube 4C, mounted underneath the milk-plexi.  LEDs are a great tool, but, as Thomas Hase reminds us, it’s important to choose the right tool for the look you’re trying to achieve.

LEDs, Movers and Gels – Oh My!

Thomas Hase, worked with production designer David Gallo to evolve a unique, modern look for their staged production of The Wiz in 2006. Hase recalls, “we wanted our production to capture the visual perspective of the computer and iPod generation. The junkyard where the Tin Man is discovered had a broken Starbucks sign in it, for example. It was all bright, modern, primary colors, with about one hundred Vari-Lites and Martin MACs, several media servers, an LED floor and portals, as well as a bucketload of stationary fixtures with scrollers.”  Hase noted that Rosco diffusions were a great solution for spreading the hyper-directional LED fixtures.  “An important component was the use of R113 (Matte Silk), a superb diffuser, on the walls of LEDs on each portal. The diffusion blended out the LEDs. The portals put out a strong glow that lit the rest of the floor.”

A parade of complementary red & green – only achievable with gel.

“The foreground here is a parade in R325 (Henna Sky) and R27 (Medium Red)” Hase describes.  “Upstage are a number of green shafts created by using banks of 600W ACLs pointed straight up. The green in the ACL’s (a mixture of Rosco E-Colour+ 139 Primary Green and R88 Light Green) against that burnt red is a very strong image. We used it often, and it’s a red and a green I could not get if I had tried to mix from LED units or even moving lights. LEDs are a tool, as are the color mixing flags in a moving light, but I don’t think we should forget about the other tools for color and color mixing. In this case it absolutely had to be fixed colors.”  To read more about Thomas Hase’s production of The Wiz, click here.

And then of course, there is Wicked – an absolute festival of green that celebrated its 10th Anniversary last year.  The lighting for both the Broadway and touring productions of Wicked was designed by the incomparable Kenneth Posner, whose work on Wicked was nominated for a Tony in 2004.

Posner specified several Rosco greens to help create the world of Wicked, including: R89 Moss Green, R90 Dark Yellow Green, R94 Kelly Green and R96 Lime.  Here is a video of Kenneth Posner talking about his Wicked lighting plot:

We would love to see any pictures you’ve got of your Oz-themed productions. It’s easy to share them with us:
Just click here
Just click here
Just click here

Thanks to the Sochi Olympics, the eyes of the world are getting a glimpse into Russia’s culture and heritage.  Just as Bob Costas and Mary Carillo might introduce us to Russian culture in their broadcasts, we thought we’d share some insights with you into Russian theatre.  Damir Ismagilov, chief lighting designer for the Bolshoi Theatre recently spoke with Rosco’s Ron Knell where he shared some stunning images from a few of his most recent projects, along with memories from his storied, 37-year career backstage in the Russian theatre.

In 1977 when Mr. Ismagilov began working, Rosco and Lee filters were used only in the Bolshoi Theatre, Maly Theatre and Moscow Art Theatre. These three national theatres could afford those filters, but the rest of the theatres in Russia (Soviet Union at that time) used filters made by the local theatre industry. Ismagilov, at that time, used those domestic filters, which only had a range of 10 to 12 colors and were not consistent from batch to batch.  “This also made it impossible,” Ismagilov tells us, “to get, for instance, a thick blue color.”

“Kromy” scene from “Boris Godunov”, directed by Leonid Baratov, designed by Feodor Fedorovski.

Today, Ismagilov has more than 12 different colors installed into one color scroller alone – including a host of rich blues – and he uses them to create scenes like the Kromy scene above. There are color scrollers installed on most devices in the Bolshoi Theatre, and all of them are loaded with either Rosco E-Colour+ or Supergel. When asked why Rosco, he says, “When I install filters in a scroller, I want to change them once a season. Rosco satisfies this demand.”

Bolshoi Theatre’s color scrolls as displayed in Rosco myColor.

Ismagilov enjoys the wider palette available to him now and relies on it to create classic looks, adding though, that if he strays too far into “artificial” or unnatural colors, he might hear “Have you lost your mind? Why use this filter? We work in a classical theatre, and this filter is for a disco or a concert. There you may do as you wish. But here you ought to make it beautiful!”

“The Cell” scene from “Boris Godunov””, directed by Leonid Baratov, designed by Feodor Fedorovski.

Colors like E-Colour+ filters #132, #105, #201 and Supergels #23 and #371 help him create those beautiful, classic looks, such as the stage shot pictured above. During this scene, the morning gradually succeeds the night. It starts with cold light in the window and behind the door. The audience sees Pimen sitting at the table and Grishka Otrepyev sleeping. Warm sanctuary lamps illuminate sacred icons and a candle on Pimen’s table glows. The cold light in the windows and behind the door gradually warms as dawn arrives.

“Demon” at the Moscow Academic Music Theatre, by Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko, directed by Gennadi Trostinetski, scenography by Semen Pastukh.

Demon used Rosco’s Twin White RP Screen with a line of wash lights behind it. Aloft were the demon’s wings, which metamorphosed according to the scene, acting at times as the demon, and at others as simple clouds.

The scenery also acted as a gobo when lit in a specific fashion. The team added projected Rosco gobos to the textured shadows of the wings on the stage floor and blurred those images to create the special atmosphere.

When asked where he turns for inspiration for evocative designs like Demon, Ismagilov says, “in 1982, when I was a child, I saw the film Blade Runner . Now I tell all young lighting designers, ‘Watch the movie. If you can see and understand how the light is set, you can become a good lighting designer. If you can’t see or understand it, give up and don’t waste your time.’  That is why I watch this movie again and again even now. It’s my source of inspiration.”

A scene from “Svadebka” (The Wedding) by Igor Stravinski, the second part of “Maitre of Ballet”. Scenery by Valery Levental, choreography by Alla Sigalova. Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Ismagilov, like other lighting designers, also takes his inspiration from the source material.  For example, he uses deep reds, including E-Colour+ #164, to create a tense atmosphere, as he did in the stage shot from Svadebka above.  “The music is filled with emotional tension. Just listen to the music. It is tearing the soul out of you. So the color should too. I was scared there. This is definitely Stravinski.”

As we bid farewell to the Olympics in Sochi, perhaps we should take inspiration from Damir Ismagilov and have a listen to Stravinski’s Svadebka while we schedule Blade Runner into our video queues.

We’ve shared several stories about the spectacular architectural installations featuring Rosco LitePads and other stories from filmmakers about how they’ve used LitePads on the sets of your favorite movies & television shows. This post will show off some creative ways LitePad has been used in theatre – including a backstage installation that illuminates theatrical line-sets, a few examples of how LitePad can make props glow and a creative project that used a LitePad to back light scenic elements on stage.

LVH Entertainment Systems recently installed a new Thern Stage Equipment rigging system at Zellerbach Hall on the campus of UC Berkeley. One of the desires of their client was to have a glowing index on the lock rail that would eliminate the need for overhead index lights and allow them to label the line sets with a dry-erase marker.

Rosco supplied Thern a LitePad solution consisting of 3” LitePads that were fabricated to fit inside the lengths of the customized Thern Lock Rail. The LVH crew installed the LitePads and then inserted a frosted polycarbonate on top of them. The rigging and grip crews that work in Zellerbach Hall now have a glowing index they can use to easily label and read the line sets of their new fly system.

Props artisans are often searching for ways to make their props glow. There are several LED solutions that can be installed into props, but very few offer the soft, even glow of LitePad.

In this production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, LitePads were inserted into the book read by The Narrator. The LitePads not only illuminated the actress playing The Narrator in the scene, but did so in a flattering way.

The crew was able to control the 3”x6” LitePad inside the book using a 2ch DMX Dimmer hidden inside the lectern holding The Narrator’s book.

If you need the prop to be more mobile, like this book from a production of One Arm and a Leg, then you can use a LitePad and a AA Battery Holder concealed in the actor’s costume.

Lighting Designer Mary Eleanor Stebbins used a battery-powered 6”x6” LitePad inside a book to illuminate the actor’s face.

When a prop laptop is used on stage, it’s necessary to generate additional glow from the computer’s monitor in order to compensate for the intensity of the stage lights. Filmmakers have been using this technique for monitor glow for years because LitePad’s soft light output creates that effect easily and perfectly. The design team at Painting With Light created the visual concept and lighting design for Musical Van Vlaanderen’s production of Ben X in Ghent Belgium. The show is about a boy with autism that escapes into a fantasy, computer game-world to escape his bullying. The main character spends a great deal of time carrying around a laptop that has a LitePad installed inside to illuminate the actor’s face as he’s engrossed in the game that is projected behind him.

LitePads are an excellent way to build illuminated elements into scenery. Brian Wainwright from Theatre YK shared a story of how LitePad was built into the scenery to create a pivotal lighting effect in a production of The Lion King. (Spoiler Alert) Near the end of the show, Simba looks into the river and sees the spirit of his dead father Mufasa in the moonlit reflection. To create this effect on stage, a riverbank set-piece was constructed using plywood, Styrofoam, some blue translucent fabric and a 24”x24” LitePad.

A lion face was designed and taped onto the LitePad which was mounted underneath the fabric.

A Single Fader LitePad Dimmer and a AA Battery Holder are recessed into the styrofoam surround of the riverbank. This allows the actor playing Simba to control the “Mufasa Effect” while he’s on all fours staring into the water.

Riverbank set piece – unlit.

Riverbank set with Mufasa’s spirit glowing in the water.

Rosco LitePads have proven themselves to be a valuable lighting tool on-camera, integrated into architectural installations – and on-stage. Whether you’re using them as work lights back stage, adding a glow to props or creating a special effect for the pivotal moment of your production, LitePads are truly your everywhere light.  We’d love to see the creative ways you’ve used LitePad – please share your image/video and story on our Rosco Facebook page.

The phrase “All the World’s a Stage” is a well-known line from As You Like It, but for theatre-goers in Scotland, this famous Shakespearian line now has an extra special meaning.  It’s the title of the stunning new mural by John Byrne that adorns the 85 square meter dome of the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh.  The theatre recently underwent a £9 million refurbishment and restoration that includes Byrne’s captivating mural above the Viennese baroque auditorium.  The acclaimed Scottish painter and playwright was commissioned to design & paint the mural by the Festival City Theatres Trust, and it depicts a scene filled with theatricality and magic that includes a black harlequin carrying the sun through the clouds, a celestial, flamed-haired woman covered in a star-cloth pushing the moon and, of course, Jaques’ famous line from the play – and the title of the mural – scribed in a bright red ribbon that streaks through the piece.

John Byrne & “All the World’s a Stage.”  © Colin Hattersley

Working with a team of painters, led by Edinburgh artist Kevin Leary, Byrne created the mural in five weeks in order to unveil the work at the opening of the Edinburgh International Festival.  Leary shared some of the challenges of this project and the techniques he employed to overcome them.

Work begins on the dome.

“I feel I could write a small novel based on my 34 days on the scaffolding” was the response Kevin Leary gave us when we asked him to talk about the challenges of this job.  The biggest issue was to work out how to draw John Byrne’s design onto the dome. The traditional method of using full size drawings and mark through them was too slow and not flexible enough. Leary decided to project the 2-dimentional cartoon onto the curved 3-dimensional dome.  Fortunately Byrne had cleverly designed the piece so that the main figures fell within the more horizontal areas. The close proximity of the scaffold deck to the ceiling and the fisheye effect of a short throw projector meant the design had to be broken up into sections. Using specialized software Leary had found, he overlaid a grid across the image.  Then, by moving around grid points in the software, the image was modified into the right positions for the dome. It looked very odd on screen, but great on the ceiling! Leary created a grid of (25) 2m square projections and used a couple of projectors which were modified to lie on their backs. The whole process took about a week and all were relieved when the full image was drawn in place and all connected.

Kevin Leary projects and cartoons Byrne’s design onto the dome.

The short time to complete the work was another major challenge as it left little margin for error and and there was little contingency for correcting anything that did not work.  It was a case of just fix it and quickly.  The project turned out to be physically demanding for the team, with 14+ hour days exacerbated by the extra effort of painting above your head the whole time.  The scaffolding was coming down regardless of the state of the painting, and Leary knew he would not get to see the piece properly until the scaffolding was removed (and it was too late to correct anything!).  Adding up the physical demands, the complexity of the project and the time constraints he had to work under, Leavy said this was “undoubtedly my toughest commission.”

You try painting above your head 14 hours a day for 34 days straight.

Given the time constraints, Byrne and Leary had several practical issues to work out such as paint, materials, equipment, lighting and many quality copies of the artwork. As far as paint was concerned, Leary chose to use water-based paint to ensure he could work at great speed and to guarantee the surface would be dry to varnish upon completion. Plus, it was much healthier to work with in the confined space of the scaffolding.

Rosco Supersaturated Paint

Leary chose Rosco’s Supersaturated Paint because of his familiarity with it in his theatrical work – he knew the product very well and felt confident its great qualities would work well for this project. “The colours contain amazing pigment strength and are so well suited to diluting with water, mediums or other paint such as white emulsion. This makes the paint ideal for using with a spray gun which was invaluable on this work, especially for the clouds. The surface finish of the Rosco paint is excellent – very even soft feel but with strong colours.”  Leary liaised with Jenny Knott, Rosco’s paint & coatings product manager and one of the few artists who has actually painted a dome of this size.  Leary reports that she “offered loads of help for no return and gave me a lifeline via her mobile phone should I have any problems on site.”

Kevin Leary assesses the work.

The mural in the dome is ‘the icing on the cake’ of the restoration of the much loved King’s Theatre (affectionately known as ‘the Old Lady of Leven Street) as it marks the completion of the major refurbishment designed and project managed by Rachel Simmonds of Smith Scott Mullan Associates.  Out of all the upgrades inside ‘The King’s’, including luxurious new seating, new carpeting, a new ventilation system and a completely refreshed and restored interior – it’s the masterpiece in the dome that takes center stage.

Before and after shots of the dome at the King’s Theatre.

Below is a time-lapse video that documents the intense workload, dedication and commitment undertaken by Byrne’s creative team. It showcases all of the stages of the project beginning with the scaffold construction, then surface preparation, projected tracing of the original image, drawing, and finally the painting and varnish of the artwork.

All The World’s A Stage (Shorter Version) from Neil Kempsell on Vimeo.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas thanks to Rosco’s holiday & winter themed gobos.

Our friends over at Got Light in San Francisco shared some of their fantastic images that showcase how they use Rosco gobos to add seasonal accents into their holiday event decor.

Got Light used Rosco Snowflake gobos to add warmth & cheer to their holiday event decor.

The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble presented “A Very Special Christmas Special.” Lighting designer Cecilia Durbin shared a couple of pictures that showcased how she used Rosco color and gobos to add the holiday spirit into their production.

The show was set as a live taping of a 60’s Christmas special, and this was the first year they shot it in color, so saturation on the set, while keeping the faces natural was very important. Here are some of the colors and gobos Durbin used in the production:

Cyc: R74 Night Blue + R104 Tough Silk mixed with R68 Parry Sky Blue + R104 Tough Silk + GAM gobo #376 Rose Window combined with R55006 Blue, Red, Lavender, Stippled Colorizer
Blue Back Lights: R69 Brilliant Blue
Blue Front Lights: R78 Trudy Blue + R114 Hamburg Frost
Front Diagonals: Cinegel 3204 ½ CTB + R114 Hamburg Frost
Deck Wash: R52 Light Lavender, with R77774 Blossom gobos fuzzed to feel like “snow”
Low Front: Cinegel 3208 ¼ CTB + R114 Hamburg Frost
Follow Spot: Cinegel 3208 ¼ CTB + R132 ¼ Hamburg Frost

The show had live video cameras rolling throughout the show that were fed onto projection screens above the stage, which explains why she chose the heavier R114 Hamburg Frost and the Cinegel CTB’s.

Finally, the team over at Lighting Design International in London decorated their Hammersmith Studios with Rosco gobos and Derksen projectors. The time-lapse video below shows the buildings yuletide transformation:


Season’s Greetings from all of us at Rosco, and may your 2014 be prosperous and bright.

It’s a well-known fact that moving light manufacturers include a set of stock gobos in every unit they make. With that in mind, it’s good to remember that those gobos can be replaced with patterns that fit the need of your design. Between the Rosco and GAM libraries, we’ve got over 2,700 patterns to choose from. Any of the steel designs can be affordably made into moving-light sized glass patterns and the range also includes Rotation Gobos and Colorwaves – both of which were created to be installed into automated fixtures that could rotate and change the focus of the pattern. This Spectrum post focuses on how Declan Randall not only used different gobos in his recent design for “Starlight Express,” but also custom glass gobos to project scenic elements onto the stage.

Using Rosco custom gobos for “Starlight Express”By Declan Randall
As a lighting designer, texture in light is extremely important to me. In fact, I think I would really struggle to light without gobos and textured light. Gobos, to me, are so much more than simple projected images. Gobos can tell a story, they can support the artistic intent of the performance and they can add layer upon layer of softly textured and coloured light to any scene.

Designing the lighting for an all-new production of Starlight Express in Johannesburg was a great opportunity to use gobos for both texture and story-telling. The production was staged at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Johannesburg and was directed by Janice Honeyman with scenic design by James MacNamara. One of the key concepts for me right from the start was to use the lighting to help create a sense of motion on stage – the cast were already on wheels (of course) but we wanted to use the lighting to help create the illusion of speed. One of the ways we did this was through the use of a number of dynamic effects using intensity, colour, movement and most importantly – texture. For anyone who has ever been on a train or who has even watched a train go by, you will have noticed how the light effects caused by the trains movement and light through the windows is almost stroboscopic – several flashes of light and dark. I often used break-ups that offered but chunks of light and shadow so that as the cast skated around it would enhance the illusion of motion as they “flashed” in and out of the light. It was important to use gobos that were geometric and symmetrical as we needed the rhythms created to be consistent and repetitive.

We also used gobos to pick up on textures that were reflected in the scenery – for Dinah’s song “U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D.” I picked a pattern that mimicked the panels on the flown archway that way used in the number. The “station yard” scenes between musical numbers was also quite heavily textured – we wanted to create an industrial feel and as the stage floor was painted in varying railroad textures, we helped to enhance this feel by layering both soft-edged and hard-edged gobo washes. Simple shifts in focus could quickly change the feel of the space as the story progressed.

The races are a big part of the show – the trains have to race against each other in a series of heats to find the overall winner. Each race is bigger and more spectacular than the last. Right from the first time I saw the set design I knew that I was going to want to create train tracks out of light. These we would use for the races to add a bit of extra sparkle to the race tracks. To this end, I designed a pair of “train track” gobos – one curved and one straight – and we would use these in different configurations to build the race courses that the trains would follow for each race. We had great fun coming up with different ways to “assemble” the tracks for each race. There is also a big crash just at the start of Race Three and the sections of track went flying out into the auditorium.

Rosco made and supplied the custom train track gobos for the show and they worked really well. We used them in Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 spots and they were a real feature and talking point of the show. The precision of the artwork was critical for the effect to work – there were three trains in each race, each in their own track which was only 800mm wide, so by the time you scale that down to a gobo less than 35mm in diameter, it makes for a super tiny and precise etching of the glass.

The title song of the show (“Starlight Express”) is also used three times during the performance, each one growing and becoming more spectacular, both musically and lighting-wise. For these moments, we wanted to transport Rusty (and by the last refrain, the audience) into a magical world of star light. Night-Sky gobos and another custom star field gobos were used extensively for this effect and were added in layer by layer from both the generic profiles as well as our large moving light rig.

The gobos were a huge part of my design for the show and I cannot imagine having to light the show without them. Tunnels, train tracks, art-deco break-ups, and starry starry nights – textures and images that would not have been possible without Rosco gobos.

Starlight Express – Nelson Mandela Theatre, Johannesburg, South Africa 2013
Produced by Bernard Jay, Directed by Janice Honeyman
Lighting by Declan Randall, Design by James MacNamara, Costumes by Sarah Roberts

Declan Randall is a UK-based lighting designer with more than 275 productions to his credit from all genres of the performing arts including musicals, opera and theatre. In South Africa, Declan served as Resident Lighting Designer for the Market Theatre, Black Ties Ensemble and Opera Africa. Since moving to the UK in 2009, Declan has designed regularly for Mid Wales Opera, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Guildford Shakespeare Company.