When it comes to event lighting the terms can become easily mixed up. You may have wondered what does each type of light do? Or what do I need for my event? If these questions have ever popped into your mind this episode of Whiteboard Wednesday is for you. Our very own Will Curran will be breaking down what Lekos and Gobos are. From the specific types or lighting, to the best uses for them he will walk you through these types of event lighting step by step. Let’s jump in below!

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What’s up Endless fans, Will Curran, Whiteboard Wednesday, you know what’s going on. We got another awesome topic for you. And today we’re talking about what is a leko and what the heck is a Gobo? Believe it or not, that’s probably one of the number one questions that we get, but also you might be thinking yourself “Well, I already know what these are.” Well, I’m going to be dropping some advanced tips when it comes to what a Leko and a Gobo is as well, so stay tuned if you already know what those two terms mean.

What is a Leko?

So, let’s jump right on into what is a Leko? So let’s start off with what is a Leko light? A Leko light also which has the name traditionally the most common fixture or light fixture is called the source for Leko light. It’s a type of light also known as an ellipsoidal light, but we’re just going to call a Leko, almost everyone calls it a Leko. It has two functions.

One is as a major stage light. So what you utilize this for is covering a stage with light, you want to give it, a nice white look, blue look, whatever it may be just covering the stage with light. That’s the first purpose.

The second purpose is used for shining gobos, we’ll talk about what to gobo is just shortly, but let’s first keep talking about what a Leko is.

Leko is an ellipsoidal light that basically allows you to choose a couple different ways compared to a normal par light, which is just kind of splashes color overlays, ellipsoidals allow you to do a couple cool things. First thing is it has the ability to cut in what’s called shutter the edges. So what that means is that for example the reason why it makes a great stage light is that you can actually choose the edges of the stage where you want the light to stop, or how high to go. Which means that is if you have a screen behind you on stage, you can keep the light from blowing out and lighting up the entire screen. Pretty cool, right? So what’s also great about it, it has the ability to go focused and unfocused. So what that means is, you can get this nice sharp light that, you know, let’s say, for example, you need to highlight a very specific table, or a specific object, boom, you can do that. Or if you want to make it nice and soft, you can get a little bit out of focus, it has a lot of customizable options when it comes to light, which is why it is probably the most common light used when it comes to production in AV is because it is so functional.

Types of Leko Lights

So when it comes to picking a Leko light, you’re going to see on the- the quote that you have, a couple different types of lights.

Leko Brightness

First, you might see obviously the Leko light, you might see, for example, let’s start with the brightness. You might see that for example, a traditional it might be a 500 watt light or a 750 watt light, depending on how bright it is, and what the needs are. Again, your AV company should help you out and pick the right ones for you, you shouldn’t have to pick. But what’s cool is these lights have also gone LED. So now you actually see a couple different brands out there doing full LED versions, which means that you get the power savings and also the cool functionality now of being able to change the color of the lights as well, which is really cool. Whereas before with the conventional or traditional lights, you had to have gels and plastic covers over them to change a color, which is kind of you know, doesn’t allow you the flexibility to change the color on the fly.

Leko Degrees

So when you pick your light, you’ll also see what’s called a degree or basically the amount of area that you want to cover with it. So for example, the lowest one that you typically will see on average is about a 19-degree Leko. So what you’ll see is the lower the degree, think of it as a triangle, and I know you probably are, you know, cursing your geometry teacher from high school now, but basically, 19 degrees is a little bit smaller, right, than 36 degrees, versus a 50 degree, right? There are other ones, for example, there’s a 50 degree, there is a five-degree Leko there is a 10-degree Leko as well. So obviously the smaller the degree, the thinner the light is. So, what you usually will find is on stage lights, you might find that your AV company has a couple of 19 degrees mixed in with a couple 36 degrees. Um, and the reason why they do this is because they have a couple different ones all layered upon each other to make sure you get a nice tight angle. Also, sometimes these, for example, the wider ones because you’re taking the triangle and spreading it out so much, also spreading the light out and the concentration of light.

So in theory, uh, in theory of lighting, a 50 degree isn’t as bright as a 19 degree uh, lens on there as well. So, something you kind of keep in mind when it comes to the different styles in which you’re doing it. You’ll also see what’s cool about these Leko lights is it’s not just about the whole light as a whole, it has a degree. What’s cool about them is they have lenses that are interchangeable, so what that means is your AV company might come with you know, 20, 19 degrees, but then come with a couple, what we call, barrels or lenses for them, and come with a couple 36 degree lenses, couple 26, 50s, fives, you know mix of all of them together.

And the reason why they do this is it’s really easy to interchange them. So what’s cool is that if you aren’t really sure what you’re going to be doing, so for example, if you’re looking to have the AV company shoot some Leko lights down some tables, you’re not sure how big the tables are going to be, or how far away they are, or how much area you need to cover, they might include a couple different lenses with them, so they have a little bit of variety and options. Which is pretty cool, right? So I think it’s pretty cool as an AV nerd.

So that’s the basics of Leko lights. You had the degree which is how big it is, you have the brightness, which is how much wattage it is, and obviously, it’s used as primarily stage light, but then you asked, “It can also be used for gobos?” And you might be wondering, “What is a gobo?”

What is a Gobo?

Well, gobos are pretty simple. Here’s a quick demonstration on how it works. The best way I can describe what a gobo is you have the bat signal, right? And you have the light, you put a shape in front of it, and boom, it allows you to project a shape using basically covering the light, and using a couple different shapes in front of it. A gobo relatively works about the same. So what you have is the Leko light, which is demonstrated by this very rough drawing of what, a Leko looks like, and what you do is you actually place the gobo inside of it, and we’ll explain what they actually look like. You place the gobo inside of it, parts of it block the light and let a lot of light through, which means that it projects the shape that you’re looking for.

So what’s cool is that you can do things like your logo, a monogram, all these things like that, and project them on here, which is pretty cool. So really, really simple idea. You can see this, for example, you can put it on the ground and shoot it up on the ceiling. You can put it on a pipe and shoot it at a wall, or down on the floor, really allows you to do a lot of shapes. What’s cool is not only for just shooting specifically like logos and like that as well, there’s also what are called breakout gobos, which are just lots of little shapes if you want to cover and add texture to an area. For example, if you want to make it look like the lights are shining down through the leaves of a tree, you might use a breakout gobo with a couple leaf shapes on it, for example.

So there you go. So what you’re doing is you’re taking the gobo again, and placing it inside of a Leko light. So what’s great about this is all the things we talked about when it comes to what a Leko does are applicable for this. So for example, if you put a gobo inside here and you want it to be really big, you might use a 50 degree lens to make it as large as possible, or if you’re looking to make it really small and tight, and really like close-knit, you might use a 19 degree lens on that Leko as well. Pretty cool, right? We’re laying all our knowledge on top of each other. Well, you might be thinking yourself, “Oh, cool. Like, what’s possible with a gobo, can make it move? What can I do all?” All these things that … Well there, I want to start with some basics as far as different types of gobos.

Three Types of Material

So when you buy a gobo, for example with a Leko light, usually they’re about … you know, that big or so. I’m obviously being very, very rough with it. There are little different types, which we’ll talk about the uses beyond Leko lights, but they’re usually about that big. So the three different types that you can … usually you end up purchasing are steel, glass, black and white, or colored glass.

Steel Gobos

So a steel gobo is literally a thin piece of metal and they cut the shape out of it, and then it literally slides right on into the leko light. Well, what’s great about steel is they’re really inexpensive.

The reason why they have to be steel is because these lights get very, very hot, they want to make sure that they um, obviously are capable of handling the heat. So steel, obviously, is the ideal example of this. So really, really inexpensive are steel. The problem is because it’s cut with steel, if, for example, if you wanted to put another shape inside of this star and have it floating, well, you’d have to have little small pieces of a design. And let me kind of that exa- exemplify this, but say, for example, you want to make that circle, you know, float in there, make that black, so you have a black circle in the middle. Well, in order to do that, obviously, because it’s one solid piece of steel, you’d have to have little lines connecting it. Well, all of a sudden, your star went from being a cool star with a dot in the middle, to being a star with an X and a dot in the middle? Nah, we don’t want that, that’s not our logo, right?

Black and White Glass Gobos

So you might be looking for a little bit more detail then, and the ability to do things like floating objects inside of objects. Well, that’s where we recommend going to a glass gobo. Obviously, with it being glass, it’s fragile, it’s more expensive to do as well, so keep that in mind, but it allows you to get more detail. For example, we can add these shooting star elements on to the outside which is really cool. You can add that little detail in there, which is really neat. So again, it allows you to add a little bit more detail into the gobo, and do things like floating shapes, things like that, that were traditionally with the steel you’re confined to how it’s actually physically printed. Well, let’s say you want to go to the next level. Obviously, the next level from going to a black and white is to go to color.

Colored Glass Gobos

Again, another step up in cost, but if you’re looking, for example, if your logo has to be a very specific color, or if you wanna for example, have your logo is bread and the yellows inside of it, and you don’t wanna make it all red or all white, then you’re going to wanna go the colored route, which is really cool.

Alright, so you’ve got the basics as far as you want to go. Starting off with the cheapest, to the little bit more expensive. These usually take a little bit of time to manufacture, that’s something to keep in mind if you’re doing an event. So you want to give your AV company a little bit of a heads up that if you want to do these, so they can get ’em made and you don’t have any rush charges. But really, really simple stuff. All right now you’re talking, “Wow, that’s really cool. So what’s like possible with these gobos? I can project ’em on a wall things like that. Well, what if I want to have it move?” Well, that’s a great question, that’s possible as well.

Moving Head Light

There’s a fixture called a moving headlight, which is the idea that basically, it’s a light with a yoke on it. It can turn in 360 degrees, and flip, and do all that sort of stuff which is really neat, right? Well, what’s cool is those also have gobos inside a lot of them. So what you can do is actually get gobos made for those.

The thing is, they’re not necessarily same gobos you put in a leko light, they might actually end up being smaller. So if you keep that in mind, if it’s smaller means more detail, which means is probably gonna be a little bit more expensive. So keep that in mind. But if you have moving lights at your event, you actually might be able to put gobos inside ’em. For example, you could put a custom gobo but with your logo in it. I have a client who puts character shapes so then that way the characters are flying all the way around the room. Really neat, right? What’s also really cool is that now with the movement of technology from traditional lekos which are hot and very … use up a lot of electricity, is LED lekos which are cooler to the touch, they use less electricity. A lot of these gobos are getting cheaper now, so they can actually do ’em in plastic, and obviously plastics cheaper to manufacture that steel and glass.

So a lot of really cool things you can do with gobos, if you wanna have ’em fly around and do all this sort of stuff, and this and that. Something to keep in mind by the way, as a bonus tip, if you’re doing moving headlights where you have gobos is for example, let’s say you have um, one sponsor on one day, and you want to have their logo flying all over, but then the next day, you have a different sponsor for that day and you wanna have that one fly all the way around. Well, it’s possible with moving head gobos, they actually have a wheel inside of ’em, so you can actually put multiple gobos inside of a wheel. Whereas with a leko, you literally have to physically slide it out, and pull it in. And there’s a couple other cool add ons you can add to gobos to make ’em spin, you can make them get blurry and not blurry, you can multiply them and make them prismed all out, and do all these crazy cool things with it.

Talk to Your AV Company

So ask your AV company if you’re looking for some unique ways to use gobos. But this gives you at least a starting point to understand two of the major elements of AV, which is the traditional stage light leko, and the gobos that can go inside of it. So if you’re looking for sponsorship opportunities, you’re looking to put your monogram down in the middle of the floor, or you’re just looking for something cool or unique to put your event that doesn’t cost a lot of money gobos are a really cool way to go.


So all right, you’ve learned a little bit gobos and lights, we got a lot more lighting videos coming down the line. If you do like this video, we’d love to hear, what are the cool ways that you’ve used a gobo or a leko at an event? Post it down in the comments below, I love to hear from you as well. So, while you’re down there as well, if you loved this video, feel free to give the thumbs up, we’d love to hear that you’re loving this video. However, if you didn’t like it, give us a thumbs down, and give us a comment and let us know how we can improve. Uh, for all other AV nerds out there, you might be thinking, “Wow he could have covered a lot more in technicalities with this,” uh- uh, this is really supposed to be just a little bit of an intro, so I appreciate your patience AV nerds, I got a lot more stuff coming your way.

However, if you are looking for more videos and you’re loving these whiteboard Wednesday videos, click subscribe down below and click the little bell icon to get alerted when we post new whiteboard Wednesdays. Um, and we’d love to hear from you. So I got to get out of here and go focus some lekos, and put some gobos out there for my- one of my clients. So I’m going to get out of here, but I hope you’re having an amazing Wednesday and we’ll catch you next Wednesday on Whiteboard Wednesday. Have a good one.

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Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will Curran. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels.

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