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before and after lighting in smaller hotel ballroom

How Can I Transform a Hotel Ballroom With Lighting?

First dance at a wedding reston hyatt regency with uplighting.

First dance with uplighting, tree candles, and texture lighting.

Hotel ballrooms are designed to hold business meetings, weddings, corporate holiday parties, conferences, and any other number of events. Hotel ballrooms aren’t designed to look amazing for every event, they are designed to be nice enough to not notice the room itself.

Or you might have the opposite end of the spectrum with the hotel that went headstrong into branding the room with a very specific design style that most likely does not fit your event decor (we’re looking at you kaleidoscope carpet Marriott’s). That’s where the lighting comes in.

DIY, Outside Vendor, Hotel’s Vendors?

You have three options when considering lighting for your event. The most cost effective is DIY, using outside vendors is generally next expensive, or you can use the hotel’s recommended lighting vendor.

DIY lighting can be easy to transform a ballroom if you have the time and people to do it.

Leveraged DIY is an option that people don’t always consider. Use another one of your vendors, florist, planner, DJ, drape company to setup  the lighting for you. They will already be there at your event and you can save on the labor costs that way. We’re more than happy to work with them so that you get the effect that you are looking for.

Outside vendors: are usually the next best cost effective option. Expect to pay a premium for having someone come out, set up the lighting, come up with the lighting design, and make sure everything runs smoothly. is a great resource for finding lighting vendors and we usually send people there when looking for a vendor in their area.

reston hyatt before and after wedding lighting

Hotel ballroom before and after lighting.

Hotel lighting can be a very expensive endeavor. Not only do you have to pay for the lighting company, but you pay for the lighting company to rent space at the hotel to house their equipment, you pay for the hotel management, you pay a fee for having the hotel recommend the lighting to you, and you pay service charges on all of that. Hospitality speak it’s what ever the cost is plus plus.

From our price comparisons you’ll end up paying about a 35% to 55% premium to have the hotel provide lighting or A/V services for your event.

What Lighting Do I Need? 

before and after lighting in smaller hotel ballroom

Before and after lighting in a smaller hotel ballroom.

By the time you are done planning your event you’ll be an expert in lighting. A good place to start is this article types of event lighting that walks you through each step of types of lighting and what it creates.

Think of lighting as a way to enhance the features and design elements in your space and deemphasize elements that you don’t like. Hate the carpet and chairs? Use uplighting to draw guests eyes up and use texture lighting to add interest higher up on the walls so guests won’t notice the carpet or chairs. Then use candles or centerpiece lighting on tables to add extra light to each of the tables and draw guests eyes away from the elements you don’t like.

Find out how many uplights you’ll need using our online uplighting calculators.

amber uplighting at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VAWhat Can Lighting Do? 

Lighting can go a long ways to change elements of the room that can be very expensive to otherwise fix. Some elements it can fix are:

  • Big Space – Hotel ballrooms are notoriously large and cavernous devoid of feeling. Lighting helps warm the cold space up and helps make it more inviting.
  • Boring Walls / Air Walls – Airwalls and boring walls are perfect for texture lighting. Create the pattern and design that matches your other decorations on your walls with light.
  • Carpet – The entire floor is covered in it, uplights can fix them by bringing peoples eyes higher or changing the color of the carpet completely.
  • Chairs – Chiavari or similar replacement chairs can cost an extra $50-$100 per table, use uplighting at less than half the cost.
  • Dark Room – Sometimes venues are just dark. Lighting brightens up the space and makes it feel more warm and elegant.
  • Linens – Upgraded linens can cost $30-$120 per table, use uplighting to impart color and shimmer to standard white or cream colored linens.
  • Low Ceilings – Smaller ballrooms feel more like dungeons than ballrooms. Use uplighting’s vertical lines to make the room feel bigger and taller. Use a blisslight on the ceiling to make it feel more expansive and taller. Pin-spot centerpieces to make it feel more dimensional.
  • Ugly Art Filled Walls – Use light to control what people see. Cake spotlights, pin-spotlights, table spotlights can all redirect what people see and what they don’t see.
  • Terrible Lighting – Fluorescent lights are ugly. They make people look ugly, they make the venue look ugly, and otherwise are terrible light sources. Bringing in lighting will let you fix the bad lighting in a space.
  • Wall Color – Uplights can change the colors of any wall in an event space at the touch of a button.
cake spotlight with purple uplighting

W Hotel uplighting, pin-spots and cake spotlight at a wedding in Washington, DC.

Lighting can make a big huge difference in the look of your event space and is one of the most cost effective ways to transform the room. After all, no one can see your other decor elements if they are in the dark.

Transform Your Event

Whether your budget is $50, $500, or $5,000 we can help you find a cost effective way to light up your event and save money in the process. Check out all the diy lighting rentals we offer and what you can do to transform your event.

We’d love to hear what you think, leave your feedback, questions, or comments below.

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king birth announcement crown onesie

Baby Announcement Design with Gobo Light

two color pink and blue gobo template

Two color gobo template with circles that inspired the design.

We are expecting our first child and there is a lot of pressure that comes with that! The most pressure (so far) came from announcing our child to the world…

People expect designers to be creative, they expect us to do things that other people wouldn’t spend 5 seconds on, and they expect it to be amazing. In other words, pressure.

Any designer can tell you, it’s easy being creative for other people but being creative for yourself and for your future progeny is a whole different ball game.

The Concept

My wife Kari is the real designer in the family. She was on Etsy  and was inspired by a great example of our last name “King” with a crown in the design on the front of a onesie. Going with the regal theme and the play on our last name she wanted it to say “Heir Apparent” somewhere and the expected date of our progeny.

It made it easier to think of Kari as the client and then coming up with ideas around her vision.

Making It

I knew that the design would require taking over our living room. We ordered the onesie and on the day it arrived Kari had to go to a work function and I thought it would be the perfect time to create the announcement and take over the house.  I knew that I wanted a soft pink and blue in the background and I wanted to the shirt to really pop out of the background. I made the pink and blue gobo design so I could get the pink and blue aspect of the design to pop out of the background when projected with a gobo light.

I knew that the white onesie would have to be in focus while the background would need to be blurred. I used some twine and two lighting stands to hang the shirt from so I could get enough distance between the shirt and the background to get the blur effect right. I also knew I needed a ton of light specifically on the shirt so I could get a really high contrast look so I ended up using three of our cake spotlight rental lights.

I needed a wall to project on and a flat boring wall wasn’t interesting enough. I ended up using the curtains for our windows on the front of our house to project onto. The light did a really great job covering up the gray and white scroll pattern on the window treatment while adding some texture and interest in behind the colored circles of light.

I used a prime 50mm lens shot at f/1.8 so I could get a blurred background while keeping the shirt in focus.

king birth announcement crown onesie

The final birth announcement that we created.

The Final Result

As with most creative endeavors the devil’s in the details. I added some detail to the clothes pins holding the onesie to make them blue and pink, added a crown to the label on the shirt, enhanced the contrast and some colors as well as adding the text.

It helps having an entire inventory of lighting at my disposal, but thinking creatively with light can enable a number of design ideas and projects that would be otherwise impossible to do. Texture lighting like the gobo lights are infinitely versatile and we can help you come up with a  way to use lighting creatively for your projects.

I think it came out pretty well and most importantly checked off the hardest part of having a child (so far). What do you think? Ideas, thoughts, comment below.


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gobo projection on black pipe and drape

Will a Gobo Projection Show Up on Black Pipe & Drape?

gobo projection on black pipe and drape

Gobo projection on black pipe and drape from 8ft away.

Many of our clients want to project their logos on to black or white pipe and drape and wonder if it will look good. Yes! The results can look great!

The gobo projector is bright, crisp, and clear enabling it to look great on any surface. Corporate clients like our gobo lights because they are easy to transport and come with accessories offering a simple flexible setup for any space. You typically don’t see your booth space until you get to the tradeshow and the last thing you need to worry about is if your logo will show up correctly.

In this example we wanted to show the gobo light setup projecting in a real world situation. We used one of our client’s logos for the projection right before the light shipped out to their event.

Notice the terrible overhead fluorescent lighting, cramped space and thin black tradeshow banjo fabric. We projected from a distance of around 8ft away from the fabric (what you might typically have in a small booth space) using a narrow 15 degree lens. The resulting image was about 2.5ft across and looked really bright on the black fabric. You can control the size of the image using the included lenses in the light kit so if you need a bigger or smaller image you can change it quickly and easily.

In small tradeshow booths you can also project on the ceiling or the floor in front of your booth space to increase the size and visibility of your booth. Each light features a slow rotation option if you wanted to add a dynamic moving component to your logo.

Whether your fabric or surface you are projecting on is black, white, red, blue, green, yellow, magenta or plaid, your image will look bright, crisp and clear.

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wireless uplights in purple with pin-spot lighting

Even Better Wireless Uplighting Rental Pricing! Shipped Nationwide

wireless uplights in purple with pin-spot lighting

Wireless uplights setup at the Sunset Room by Wolfgang Puck at National Harbor.

Wireless uplights for as little as $25 per light!

It’s easier and more cost effective than ever to add uplighting to your event.

Leave the cables, wires, limited color choices and frustration at home. Wireless uplighting lets you enjoy your event more and setup less.

Many cheap wired rental lights only let you choose from 7 preset colors. Our lights let you choose from over 16.7 million color combinations right at your finger tips.

Many wired uplight rentals are setup so you can only use their cables which means you have to use more lights even though you might not need them. It can look cheaper up front but is actually more expensive and takes a lot longer to setup.

This photo shows the Sunset Room at National Harbor in Maryland. 28 uplights were used in this setup. Total time for uplight setup by one person: 10 minutes

Trying to get the same setup with wired uplights would take over 45 minutes and it would be impossible to get a deep eggplant purple because of the limited colors.

It’s now easier and more cost effective than ever to go rent wireless uplights. Save money, transform your event, and spend more time enjoying the event.

Fill out the form on the right to check availability for your event today!

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metal, glass, plastic gobos and types of gobos

Can I Use a Plastic Gobo or Transparency Gobo?

metal, glass, plastic gobos and types of gobos

Types of gobos used for events.

Can I Use a Plastic Gobo or Transparency Gobo?

Plastic or transparency gobos can be a cost effective way to display a gobo at your event. They have the quality of glass at a price lower than steel. Whether or not you can use them depends on the light fixture being used.

Plastic gobos or transparency gobos can be used in lights that are designed to handle this media type. If you aren’t sure the exact light fixture or if it , generally:

  • LED based gobo projectors can use plastic or transparency gobos
  • Gobo sizes of E, D or smaller might indicate they can be used

If you are working with any of these sized gobos or styles of lights, you most likely can’t use plastic or transparency gobos:

  • A-size gobos
  • B-size gobos
  • M-size gobos
  • Source 4, Source 4 Jr., Altman Style Lights
  • Leko lights
  • Moving head (intelligent lights) that aren’t LED based


The best way to determine if you can or can’t use plastic or transparency gobos is to know the light fixture and model that will be used to display the gobo. Indicated what fixture will be used when you contact us and we can set you up with the right type.

All light fixtures can display steel or glass. Not all light fixtures can display plastic or transparency.

More information on types of gobos.

Purchase gobos online.


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custom gobo design and production

What is a Gobo? What types of Gobos are there?

custom gobo design and productionA gobo is a template that light shines through to project an image onto a surface. The term “gobo” is an acronym that stands for “GOes Before Optics.”

Gobos are used in specialty lights that are designed to shine through the gobo template and project the design from the template onto a surface. Gobos cannot be used with traditional household lighting or standard par can lighting because they don’t have the lenses to shape the light or focus the light after the light hits the template. (see: gobos for uplights)

Gobo lighting is also referred to as logo lighting, monogram lighting, name-in-lights, wedding lighting, or texture lighting.

Standard Gobo Sizes

Gobos come in a variety of sizes (diameters) based on the lights used to project them. All gobo projectors state the exact size gobo or range of gobo sizes they can accommodate.

Gobo lights were originally used for theater and TV to create visually interesting backdrops that could be changed quickly depending on the production. The most common gobo size used by these industries is a “B-Size” gobo.

Many of our corporate clients have gobos that were created for their organization or trade shows but don’t know what the size is. 9 times out of 10 they are “B-Size” (or less commonly “M-Size”) gobos that fit larger, heavier, hotter, sensitive, not DIY friendly theatrical lights used by professional lighting companies.

Our DIY friendly lights use “D-Size” and “E-Size” gobos that are the perfect fit for our compact, lightweight, bright, sharp, easy to setup LED gobo projectors.

Gobo sizes smaller than E-size (<37.5mm diameter) are only recommended for blocky, non-detailed designs like simple shapes and block letters. The small gobo size doesn’t have enough surface area to support intricate script fonts or detailed designs or images.


  • 86mm – B-Size (Source 4 Ellipsoidal, Altman Shakespeare) (A little larger than the diameter of a Coke can)
  • 66mm – M-Size (Source 4 Jr.)
  • 53mm – D-Size (LED Gobo Lighting)
  • 37.5mm – E-Size (LED Gobo Lighting)
  • 28.6mm – (Chauvet Zoom, American DJ Gobo Projector) (Slightly larger than a US Quarter)

Bottom Line on Gobo Sizes

  • Make sure the gobo size you have or are ordering fits the projector you’ll be using
  • Size does not equal quality, sharpness, or brightness, those are dependent on the light fixture
  • Smaller size gobos (<32mm diameter) physically can’t support high levels of detail in the resulting projection regardless of light used

Gobo Materials

Gobos are made with a variety of gobo materials. The most popular materials used are transparency (plastic), steel, or glass.


Transparency Gobo *Most Popular*

Transparency gobos or plastic gobo discs are used in our latest cutting edge technology LED gobo projector lights. Transparency gobo media allow for the same quality as our glass gobos, extremely quick turnaround times (same day), at the lowest price possible.

Using a special proprietary high temperature plastic film, images are printed directly onto a plastic disc using a special high resolution printer. This results in extremely clear images, clear lines, and long gobo life tested to over 200hrs+.

Most of our clients choose transparency  for their gobos and it’s a fantastic option that gives them the quality of glass at a 1/10th of the price.

  • Negatives are can’t be used in traditional halogen light fixtures
  • Pros are low cost, high image fidelity, fast turnaround

color-transparency-gobo-examplesColor Transparency Gobo *Most Popular for Corporate Clients*

We can create vivid 1 and 2 color transparency gobos. This allows for the traditional white with specialized colors for aspects of a logo design.

Color transparency is perfect for many of our corporate clients with logos with one or two colors in them. For a fraction of the price of color glass gobos we can offer rich, vibrant color in your logo projections. Maintain brand consistency and brand integrity with our color transparency gobos.

  • Negatives are limited life of the gobo. Can’t be used in traditional halogen fixtures.
  • Pros are low cost, high image quality

Steel Gobo

Steel gobo’s literally have a design cut into a piece of metal. Cut out portions of the steel gobo template allow light to project through. Steel gobos quickly limit the quality and integrity of many designs. Letters like (A,O,R,P,Q,B,4,6,8,9) need to include a connecting piece of metal or numerous pieces of connecting metal to form the letters correctly.

steel gobo example vs glass gobo exampleMost other companies provide these type of gobos because they are generally the cheapest available option for traditional halogen or HID lamp based fixtures. These companies generally do not have a designer on staff and use generic patterns or standard factory designs for their clients. This results in images that don’t hold the integrity of the original design.
Steel gobos are the most durable of all gobo templates and are most appropriate for theatrical applications and where the template will be used over and over again in extreme conditions.The graphic to the right shows the exact same design, one for glass and one in metal. Note how in the metal design the month and date is hard to read because of the metal required to hold the design in place.

  • Negatives are lack of detail and limitations of the design.
  • Pros are they are the most durable and generally are lower priced than glass gobos.

monogram wedding reception lighting mount ida farmGlass – Black and White

Glass gobos offer the ability to project complex and intricate designs extremely clearly. Glass gobos feature the design physically printed on a piece of high temperature glass using a high temperature silver mirror finish. This allows for clean, elegant designs and for a much more polished finished projection.

Glass gobo’s are the most expensive. There are only a few companies in the world who produce these types of gobos. Our glass gobo’s are created by an Italian company who are known for their exceptionally clear and durable high temperature glass gobo templates.

Glass gobos are appropriate for many corporate applications where the template will be used and re-used over and over again for multiple events. Glass gobos are more durable than transparency gobos.

Care must be taking in maintaining the mirror finish of these gobos and to avoid chipping the gobo template themselves. In order to achieve their high heat resistance and clarity the borrosilicate glass used tends to chip more than regular household glass.

  • Negatives are cost and durability.
  • Pros are high image fidelity and quality.

Glass – Grayscale

Grayscale glass gobos offer the ability to print varying shades of light transmission on the glass. This allows for extremely fine detail, moreso than black and white glass gobos and allows for complex images with shading. When used in conjunction with a color gel grayscale glass gobos allow a lot of flexibility with the final design.


Designs that feature multiple layers to the design on top of one another achieve a 3-D type of effect and are most always glass grayscale gobos. These types of gobos require an even more specialized printing technique and are slightly more expensive than glass black and white gobos.

  • Negatives are are cost and durability of glass.
  • Pros are high image quality and fidelity

Glass – Color

Depending on the detail of a design, there are a few options with color glass gobos. Generally there are 1-color, 2-color, 3-color, and full color options. These gobos feature the color printed directly onto the glass. Each color has to be printed separately using a special template for each color. This process makes color glass gobos the most expensive option.

2 color custom glass gobo example

Full color glass gobos are printed onto the glass all at once and allow for the projection of full color photos and very detailed images where color and color accuracy is most important.

  • Negatives are high cost ($300-$600 per template) and longer lead and production times.
  • Pros are good color accuracy, high fidelity
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custom gobo design and production

Can I Use a Gobo on an Uplight?

custom gobo design and production

Gobos will not work with an uplight

Do you have/rent/sell gobos for uplights?

Answer: A gobo will not work with a standard uplight. We do rent gobos and we do rent uplights but gobos won’t fit uplights, here’s why.

Gobo Projectors vs. Uplights

A gobo projector has a space to hold a gobo and a series of lenses that focus the light beam projected through the gobo to focus the projection on a surface. An uplight lacks the optical lens system to focus the light on to a surface.

Gobos are small and generally do not exceed 100mm in diameter. Most uplights are a much larger diameter than that and a gobo wouldn’t fit over an uplight. Learn about gobos and gobo materials.

Don’t believe us that an uplight won’t work with a gobo?  Try this experiment using materials you have at home.

  1. Grab a flashlight
  2. Cut out a star pattern out of a piece of paper with an exacto knife
  3. Overlay the star pattern paper over the flashlight and aim at a surface
  4. You have a blurry mess projected on whatever you are aiming at


A gobo won’t fit on an uplight, but it will fit in a gobo light. We are more than happy to help you with renting uplighting or renting gobo lighting.

Lighting Questions?

We love answering lighting questions. Leave a comment and we’ll answer your questions about special event lighting and rental lighting.

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