Leonardo DaVinci once said that “Water is the driving force of all nature.” In many instances, water also proves to be the driving force in theatrical and architectural design, which makes one of the most frequently asked questions we receive at Rosco “How do I create a realistic water lighting effect?” The answer is Rosco’s X24 Effects Projector:
The effect is created by overlapping the edges of two large glass gobos in the focal plane of a Metal Halide fixture with a very tight beam path. This enables the texture of the rotating glass to fill the entire beam path with motion. That motion through the beam will be primarily vertical as opposed to the rotational beam movement found in standard gobo rotators or moving lights, which is what makes the X24’s effects so dynamic and realistic.
One of the most impressive features of the X24 is how well it covers large areas and how its versatile lenses and shutters allow it to work in almost any space. The unit has four different lenses available: 19, 30, 50 and 70 degree. (Editorial note: I don’t recommend the 19 degree lens unless you need to throw the effect hundreds of feet.) The most popular two lenses are the 30 & 50 degree, and the 70 degree is great if you have a very short throw or if you want to exacerbate the size of the effect.
Simply by changing the gobos inside the unit, you can create different effects. For instance, by replacing one of the clear X24 gobos with an Amber Mosaic Colorwave and rotating both discs upward at a high speed – you can create a very realistic fire effect.
This fire effect represents one of my favorite stories from my Rosco career. I helped sell this effect to a casino on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico because they wanted the casino to look like it was on fire. It was so realistic that the chief of the Navajo nation called to personally tell me that the effect was too realistic and it was “frightening his people and his clientele.” I didn’t believe him until I saw the video sent to me by the installers. You can see the video on my Facebook page by clicking here.
The only thing that would make that fire effect more real is some Rosco Fog!
The X24 is installed in aquariums and zoo’s all around the world projecting its realistic water effect to enhance the decor of their exhibits. Custom glass gobos can also be inserted into the unit to create event or venue specific effects. For instance, we created a custom glass gobo for Sea World to make sharks ‘swim’ inside one of their aquariums.
Usually, with this sort of effect you’d want the custom glass gobo to be furthest from the lamp so that a crisp focus can be achieved on the image. In this case, the shark gobo is installed closest to the lamp so that the texture of the X24 gobo, installed afterward in the beam path, would give some distorting movement to the sharks, which helped facilitate their ‘swimming’ effect.
The city of Portland, Oregon uses the X24’s to project falling snowflakes as holiday decoration for their city hall. The effect is made using a custom snowflake gobo rotating downward with the standard X24 gobo in back rotating upward slowly to give the snowflakes some shimmer.
This job also has an interesting back-story. The first year the units were installed onto the truss-goalpost out in the parking lot, Portland got hit by a freak storm with hurricane-force winds that lifted the entire truss assembly and blew it across the parking lot. With the exception of all of the yokes getting bent beyond repair and one lamp door popping open to jettison its lamp – all eight units – including their glass gobos and lenses – survived the beating and the city continues to use them in their holiday decor to this day.
Speaking of bad weather, as you may know – I live way up north in Minneapolis, MN. So, an effect that is needed up here fairly often is a good Aurora Borealis. Because the X24 allows full control over the speed and direction of each gobo – A Cyan Wave Colorwave inserted into the X24 can be stopped in a horizontal orientation and the X24 effect gobo behind it can rotate upward very slowly to create the Northern Lights – without the sub-zero temperatures!
In this Minnesotan’s humble opinion, the effect isn’t as green as the Northern Lights I’ve seen. However, each X24 lens is tooled to accept a 1.95″ round piece of Rosco Permacolor, so adding #1086 Industrial Green to the lens will make the effect a little more realistic and it will look more like this
The X24 is a great tool for creating dynamic, vibrant, amorphous lighting effects. It’s a great way to add color and motion to the background of special events, dance concerts or music videos.
Whether it’s creating a realistic water effect for aquariums & zoos, adding blazing fire effects to casino decor or bringing the Northern Lights to your next special event, the X24’s versatility and brilliance is an excellent choice for any lighting design that needs brilliant motion.