Pacific D-I-Y Plastic Images

The Selecon Pacific ellipsoidal range delivers low-cost image projection for your stage

Banner image: Facemaker tells the story of a plastic surgeon and his work with fighter pilots in WW2. Lighting designer Stephen Blackburn used plastic images to reflect the other faces of war in advancing the understanding of the story line during the Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School production. Using Pacific 23-50 Zoomspots fitted with the plastic image projection gobo holder, Stephen's many images only needed replacing once during the five week run.

The Pacific's unique heat management system delivers a gate temperature so cool you can project color images printed on overhead transparency plastic film (colloquially known as Fergos - after their inventor, David Ferguson)!

Projection of color images, photographs and text, formerly only possible using glass patterns or expensive scenic projectors are now possible for all!

The Selecon Pacific's revolutionary heat management system  removes most of the U.V and infra-red light from the beam providing a relatively cool gate.

It is necessary to realize that any plastic pattern has an indeterminable life span and that they will eventually deteriorate. If permanent installation is required, or an image is to be used constantly for lengthy periods, then this technique is not recommended.


Left: This plastic image came about during the course of a Cast distribution GmbH roadshow. Christian Pies explains:

"This customer joined our Selecon Roadshow in Berlin. We took a digital photograph of him during my presentation and printed a plastic gobo."


How To Make Your Own Plastic Patterns / Fergos

There are a few basic set-up issues that must be addressed for successful image projection with the Pacific.

  • Transparency patterns can ONLY be used in the Selecon Pacific ellipsoidal (blue module) with the 575W / 600W tungsten halogen or CDM lamps (black module). If dimming is not required, CDM 150W & 70W lamps can give a significant lease of life to the image if used in conjunction with a UV heat stop glass.

  • There are two types of transparency print processes you can use with the Pacific:

1. The cheapest and most readily available is Bubble Jet or Ink Jet overhead projector transparencies. Bubble Jet transparencies can only be printed at 360dpi due to the roughness on one side of the film to allow the ink drops to adhere to the surface. The advantage of this method is the availability of colour ink jet printers and the low cost, it is possible to use the graininess for artistic effect.

2. Laser transparencies can be printed at up to 600dpi without the "grain" and can give near slide like quality - the only drawback being access to a colour laser printer and the need to invert the image. Inverting the image is necessary as unlike the Bubble Jet ink, Laser ink needs to be on the far side of the lamp otherwise the ink starts to bubble and will distort the image.

You can get significantly more life out of a laser image.

 All of the Pacific range can be used, however it is worth noting that the same rules that apply in slide projection apply here, that is that the larger the image the better the resolution or image quality.

The Pacific 12°-28° Zoomspot uses a "M" size pattern holder; the Pacific 23°-50° Zoomspot and Pacific Fixed Beams use an "A" size pattern holder. It is advisable to use an "A" size or "M" size template to manipulate the images on an A4 size transparency.

icon-pdf.PDF templates for the images sizes can be downloaded here - A size or M size or B size .

PLEASE NOTE: These templates are designed to be printed in an A4 format. The outer ring for the A size is 100mm, the M size is 95mm. The inner ring is the image diameter and is 74mm for A and 47mm for M sizes. If you wish to confirm the dimensions, please print then measure.

You will see that, for the A size template the outer circles overlap slightly on one another - this is done to fit the 6 images onto the A4 sheet and will not affect the end result.


Images / Tools

If you have access to a program like Photoshop it is easier to manipulate and increase resolution of the images as well as creatively enhancing images to create different effects. Images can be imported from digital cameras as well as scanners and the web.

Before placing your pattern in the Pacific, prepare the Pacific for transparency projection.

1. Remove the lamp module (identified by the blue coloured plastic around the bottom) from the Pacific. Please ensure that you are using a 575W / 600W fixture fitted with 115V GLC or 240V GKV lamp.


2. Once removed, you need to lower the lamp position. Hold the lamp module so that the coloured plastic is facing you and turn the center gear anti- clockwise. The lamp should now be lowering. Continue turning the gear until the cup that the lamp sits in is roughly at eye level with the edge of the plastic lamp module.

3. Replace the lamp module within the Pacific housing. Tighten the knob to secure the lamp module.

4. Now adjust the peak and flat control to an over flat beam, the opposite of a peaked beam so there is a shadow at the centre of the image as opposed to a bright spot at peak. To achieve this turn the peak adjust fully anticlockwise and then back off a 1/4 of a turn ensuring that the alignment of the lamp is still true to the reflector.


5. Place the transparency in the pattern holder provided and then place the pattern holder in one of the two gate runners. Ensure the plastic image is well clamped within the holder (refer note below regarding ways to extend image life). You will note some initial smoke from the image as the ink bakes on and the transparency material tightens like a drum.

Photos on the right: Technique employed by Lighting Designer, Park Nam Suk during "Frozen Girl, Seoul Performing Arts Centre, Korea. Top: Digital photo; Centre: Photoshop; Bottom: Plastic Image Projection.


For best results

  • Use the 575W / 600W / 800W lamp module (blue lamp module).

  • Run the Pacific at 70-80% of total output.

  • Always have spare copies of your patterns handy in case of mistakes. Even the most experienced operators make mistakes from time to time!

  • Always run a trial before committing to this technique on the show.

  • Please note that plastic patterns are not designed for permanent installations; they will degenerate over time.

*** IMPORTANT NOTE: the lamp must be centred in the reflector. ***


A couple of commonly asked questions + the answers from David Ferguson, the inventor of plastic image projection:

Q. Can I do it all on my computer & printer at home? Are there any special technical requirements?
A. Yes, you can use a desktop or laptop computer for this purpose however for best results an image adjusting program such as Adobe Photoshop is necessary.

Also you will need a good quality printer and trial and error to achieve high resolution results. It has also been my experience that whilst Hewlet Packard are fine printers for photographs & high res printing they are not the best option for transparency work as their inks are very susceptible to UV degradation and will degrade 5 times faster than anything else I have tested.

Q. Where can I get the specific plastic sheets from?
A. Any good stationary shop will provide overhead transparency medium, it is however vital that you ask for "Overhead Transparency Film" as opposed to "trannies". OHT is the only medium (other than Laser Overhead Transparency Film) capable of withstanding the gate temperature.

It is worth noting that whilst the Epson paper is of good quality it will not allow a heavy saturation because the medium can only absorb so much ink, the 3M paper (in Australia the code is CG3420) is still probably the best and most available medium but there is an issue with the droplet bumps being visible.


Long Life Image Projections

Longlife fergos are a completely different medium and process altogether and to date offer the highest levels of saturation the experts have been able to achieve, the black virtually stops all light and the colour density and saturation are very good, but the life is exceptional.

On average you can expect 50 times the life of a standard fergo which outlasts most other mediums by 2 -3 times, Longlife fergos also work with MSR Pacifics fitted with dowsers. David Ferguson has also used fully peaked MSR Pacifics in a 6 week season (45 minutes per performance) with absolutely no degradation at all however at the moment full peak is only achieved using a modified *iPro.(* remove the UV shield from the plastic cartridge holder as it is only good for about 6 hours in a MSR).

Using a CDM 150W we have been doing a test on long life fergos in a museum environment (7/11) and after 9 months still no degradation, this test is still ongoing.

The trick with the longlife fergos is to ensure that the fixture is properly set up as because they are so saturated they absorb more heat and as such are more susceptible to the thermal cusp.

"All of this complexity is why I set up Fergo Plastic Projections to supply the professional market as there is a lot more to this than merely pressing the print button on your PC, however the idea is for people to have a go themselves to get the creative juices flowing and get an idea of what works."



You can extend the image life by:

Using the Selecon plastic transparency holder (right) which incorporates a clamp to hold the plastic and heat / U.V. absorbing glass (order code:19PACGHPLPH) significantly extends the image life.

ImagePro.jpgRosco's ImagePro™ is an image holder that incorporates a fan and dichroic heat reflector.

The ImagePro™ can be successfully used with all Pacific light sources including the 575W MSR. The light distribution procedure as described in 4 above should be followed.

For further information go to the Rosco Image Pro Library.


Add movement to your image with dual pattern rotators. The following rotators fit the Pacific: ICue.jpg

  • Apollo Roto-Q
  • DHA
  • Rosco Vortex

Move the image around using a mirror scanner accessory such as Rosco's I-Cue™ (right) mounted on the the front of the Pacific.