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NASA Gobo Project

This article outlines the typical aspects of a projection application based on a large scale projection we did with NASA Ames in Mountain View California. Even for smaller projects, such as indoor projection, the following steps are essentially the same.

NASA wanted the gables of two hangars illuminated with logos. These hangars house the worlds largest wind tunnel. The goal was to fill the gables with a projection size of about 40 – 50 ft. The images should be visible from the freeways 101, 85 and 237.

 

The Projector
For this task, we selected the Clay Paky VIP 1200 a classic architectural gobo projector. Today we would go with the ECO Spot 2500 instead. It has twice the light output, is lighter, and much more versatile.


Projection Angle
The projectors had to go on buildings that are much lower than the hangars. This means that we had to project upwards at an angle. In order to keep the projection angle (and therefore the resulting keystone distortion) low, we opted for a long throw by utilizing a tele lens and we went with the Clay Paky 250mm lens for the VIP 1200.

The Projection Site The aerial view below shows the site. The red lines represent the projection path and the red dots the projectors. The resulting projection distances for the two projectors were 280 ft for projector 1 and 240 ft for projector 2. The projectors were equipped with rain covers, which are available as optional items.

Projector 2 Position

The following image shows Projector 2 with rain cover mounted. The shot was taken early evening when it was not completely dark yet. The projection distance is 240 ft. and the projected image has a size of a 43ft. The photo camera focused on the projector rather than the projected logo, which therefore appears slightly fuzzy

 

The Event Logo

Would typically be provided on white background as shown on the right. We reversed the black artwork to white. White represents the clear area on the gobo and therefore projects in light. There is no need to size the artwork, we will take care of this based on the gobo type for your particular projector. See our Artwork Guidelines for details on the artwork format.

 

The resulting Gobo Proof

The black circle represents the gobo carrier and the image is usually sized to the max. image diameter that still allows a good overall focus. There is typically a trade off between achievable image size and projection quality. The larger the image on the gobo, the harder it is to achieve a clear projection. This is especially true for less sophisticated projectors such as Ellipsoidals or theatrical lights. we will typically select an image for you sized based on our experience. Black is blocked light and does not show in the projection, therefore the black disc will not show. Had we kept the words “Yuri’s Night” in black, they would not project. Colors other than black project as the original color and the white projects as light. In order to make the gray-blue of the original more visible, we changed it to a Pantone 072C Dark Blue.

 

The Yuris’s Night Logo Projection

This is a night shot of the original image projection. The projection size is about 43 ft.

 

The NASA Logo

This logo did not have to be altered in order to generate a good projection so we transferred it to the gobo as is.

 

The NASA Logo Projection

This is a night shot of the original image projection. The projection size is about 50 ft. The picture is taken from the side (actually cropped from the site projection photo above) and therefore it appears distorted. In reality it was almost perfectly round.


Challenging Hillside Large Scale

This project was performed with the ECO Spot 2500. It delivers twice as much light as the Clay Paky VIP 1200 but uses only a third of its power. The projector is extremely compact, weighs only 30 lbs and can utilize standard Source Four optics and accessories.

The site is in Scotts Valley, our home base by Santa Cruz. We decided to project onto a hill with some exposed sandstone, shrubs and trees on top. This is a rough surface and we could either do a smaller (approx 50 ft diameter) projection just onto the exposed sand or go large with a 100+ ft image, which covers the complete hill site.

We placed our ECO Spot 2500 onto a tripod on the sidewalk and used a small 1000W generator to power it. The best lens setup based on distance and desired image size, can be found in our Projection Chart for the ES-2500.

There is about 430 ft distance to the center of the hill site. We we went with a 19 degree lens for a 100 ft - 130 ft large image. With a narrow lens, we can achieve four times the distance of this site. Here we see the area that is beeing illuminated with the 19 degree lens setup.

Can you project into trees? - Yes, but the image looks best when the the viewer watches from the same perspective as the projector is placed. The larger the projection distance, the better.

This perspective illustrates the distance. The image is approx. 90 ft wide.

Between the sign and the image is a distance of 400 ft. Light colors deliver a brilliant image. The distortion on the bottom is caused by trees.

Note the person checking Alis Belly Button. This is a good visual to show the 120 ft image size.

Various animated effects such as water, fire, moving stars, etc. are possible. These are nice effects for large scale holiday or event projections. Also here is a person standing in front of the image.


Logo on the Rocks

This was an unusual project for a corporate event at Martins Beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. The challenge was to project a large corporate logo onto a Rock.

The site at Martins Beach. The rock is a less than ideal projections surface as it is uneven and its dark, coarse surface gains very little light reflection. A very strong projector is required here. We selected our Clay Paky VIP 1200.

The projected logo with the party tent seen from approx. 800ft.

We decided to use a tele lens so the projector can be placed rather far away. This measure allowed us to project up at a rather flat angle, which reduces the keystone distortion. The resulting projection distance is about 400ft. With the 250mm tele lens, we achieve an image size of about 70ft.

The Gobo Projector was simply placed on a picnic table 400ft away.