For many, a Gobo is just a physical stencil or template that is placed inside of a moving head or in front of a light source, allowing the user to control the shape of the emitted light in different ways. But how many of these users have any further insight into this particular instrument, the techniques of making the units and the materials involved? For a Lighting Designer who is entrusted to create a lighting concept, it is often essential to have some basic understanding of these factors in order to better provide for suppliers and customers. In order to better understand this often overlooked industry, we take a look into the experience and professionalism that lies within one of the world’s most outstanding specialists in the creation of these special accessories, Goboservice.
Goboservice mainly deals with the production of custom dichroic glass and metal gobos, using the latest and most advanced production techniques on the market. The company was born in the deep south of Italy, in Reggio Calabria, and to date it has offices in Italy, France and the United States. Many years of experience and collaboration with the most important companies in the entertainment industries have allowed Goboservice to develop both processes and innovative materials to produce gobos resistant to temperatures over 450° C. This makes the gobos suitable for use in many of the latest projectors with short-arc lamps, made by companies such as Clay Paky, DTS, Martin and others. Their gobos are used for both outdoor and indoor projectors, from Corporate to Christmas projections, designed to allow maximum light output, ease of use and energy saving wherever possible.
To find out more, we met with Giorgio Gatto Constantino, Goboservice’s communications and social media manager, who, in addition to giving us an overview of this niche industry through 15 years of experience of the company, has shown us in detail the process of creating gobos.
LightSoundJournal.com: Hello Giorgio, let’s start with talking about Goboservice as a company. Could you please summarise the history of your company, and talk us through your most significant moments and developments?
Giorgio Gatto: The story began in 2002 when the three founding members, after having gained significant experience in another company working in this sector, decided to return to their roots in Calabria and engage directly in the production and sale of Gobos. They started by buying the first machines and starting production in an operating space that did not even span 50 square meters. That same service continues today, albeit in a new facility – the third in fact – inaugurated a few months ago and equipped with continuous cycle production lines that see us producing virtually 24 hours a day. We also have commercial locations in Brugherio (a small town close to Milan, Italy) and foreign structures in France and the United States. The main challenge we face each day is maintaining maximum levels of reliability and reputation, which we submit to the judgment of third parties such as “Ekomi” and “Trusted Shops”. The company’s commitment is also to maintain a balance of synthesis between standardised industrial processes and artisan creativity.
Each gobo that leaves our production lab could be labeled as “handmade” due to the meticulous manual verification process and validation to which it is subjected. We are convinced, however, that this attention to the product should not be to the detriment of the expected delivery times of the customers. That’s why we have systems in place to allow us to deliver our products throughout Europe, and in a large part to the American territories, in just 24 hours, still retaining the prestigious results attributed to our workmen.
In fifteen years of activity we have “sown” thousands of gobos in all 5 continents. Just to think that one of our disks was used in Obama’s election campaign, and another at NASA, is a truly outstanding thought. There are few companies like Goboservice who can consciously define themselves as “Global”. From the extreme reaches of the South of Europe, Reggio Calabria, we have the ambition to target the world and the eyes of young professionals. The average age of our employees does not exceed 35, meaning that we have a serious and motivated workforce who are aware that they can build their own future business in mutual collaboration, which in turn generates added value for the company and the territory.
LightSoundJournal.com: How many people work at Goboservice?
Giorgio Gatto: We have a staff of around 30, which also includes those in our two offices oversees (Saint Maur in France and Scotts Valley in California).
LightSoundJournal.com: For many people, Gobos are just simple accessories. Hoever, as we have seen, they are the result of prolonged research and stress testing, like any quality lighting fixture. Can you describe the process of creating this accessory, starting with the raw materials?
Giorgio Gatto: The glass gobos see two production phases, both with highly technical processes. First, there is the deposition of the coating on glass that occurs in “high vacuum” systems similar to those used in the electronics industry for the creation of silicon wafers. Then there is the selective removal of the coating that allows for the creation of the drawing. This removal can be done either through photoinjection or through laser ablation. We, amongst the companies that operate in this niche industry, have the world’s longest experience in this laser technique, with almost 15 years passing since the use of the first machine of this type. The laser has the advantage of being much more “green” than the use of chemical reagents necessary for photoinjection. Over time, other players have become aware of this by converting to the use of this technique.
ZioGiorgio.it: You have just launched your new Platinum Gobos to the market. What distinguishes this product from previous series and what advantages does it offer?
Giorgio Gatto: The “Platinum” series solves a problem that many industry companies may find preventative. When Claypaky launched the new Mythos projector, we immediately noticed the disadvantage of placing the gobos in the plane where the maximum luminous concentration is achieved. Any material placed here either melted or took on damage after a few seconds. Different Gobos have been tried in various metals as well as existing ones in glass, but nothing changed and the damage was immediate. Other companies that produce similar fixtures, with short-arc lamps, have been circumventing the problem by programming the dimming of the lamp when gobos are inserted. Our stubbornness, coupled with our lengthy experience in the industry, has pushed us to find a efficient solution. This is thanks to a specially designed coating, specifically designed for this application. The substrate is made up of a borosilicate glass with high heat resistance, on which a very specialised coating is deposited (something we keep very close to our chests) and which is able to resist even the high temperatures exerted when the lamp is working at its maximum power.
LightSoundJournal.com: Are gobos built with special alloys? Especially the Platinum?
Giorgio Gatto: Gobos are made of a glass with a metallic coating (eg chrome or aluminum). A similar process also happens also with our Platinum products, but the mix of components is our secret recipe, something that we keep heavily under-wraps.
LightSoundJournal.com: Let’s talk about creativity now. Who deals with creating the shape or design? Do you have an in-house creative team?
Giorgio Gatto: Until some years ago, a high level of creativity was never required, as we had only to reproduce (as soon as possible and with the utmost fidelity to the original) logos and drawings sent to us by our customers. Over time, however, we began to receive input and requests from our customers and soon were involved in the creative sides of production also. So we have defined our standard gobos catalog, and especially for the Christmas season, we create and release new images for original Christmas sets. We have a team of 4 graphic designers, who works both in the processing of the images we receive and in the creation of new ones.
Now that we know more about this fascinating accessory, we can see the level of input and expertise that goes into Goboservice’s products. Goboservice is a company that demonstrates its professionalism through countless applications, some of which are documented in our LSJ pages: from 3D projections, to images that animated the San Gottardo tunnel, passing through the “Ripley Transformers Night “in Santiago. Most recently, we have the recent release of the Golux projector that made his debut on an international stage in Paris, projecting gobos on architectural works such as La Tour Eiffel, the dome” des Invalides “, the Arc de Triomphe and the National Library.