X-Effects® Projectors Shed Light On Ocean Conservation Inside The Blue Paradox

The Blue Paradox is an immersive experience on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry taking visitors below the ocean’s surface to explore the impact plastic pollution has had on it. The experience seeks to educate and inspire people to protect our oceans by providing a sense of wonder that motivates visitors to take action. To meet this goal, The Blue Paradox's creative team decided to showcase the beauty of the ocean, which required covering nearly 15,000 square feet of the exhibit with realistic water effects. Below, Lighting Designer Ben Bauer shares his team’s process of choosing the X-Effects® LED HO Projector and how they developed a brand new Rosco Gobo combination to make their vision a reality.

Why The X-Effects LED HO Projector?

During shoot-outs at the beginning of the project, we tested many fixtures. Specifically, we were looking at fixtures in environments with differing levels of ambient light, multiple surfaces with a variety of color and reflectivity, and providing flexibility when creating different effects both programmatically and with gobos or other practical effects. It became very clear we needed a bright, flexible, and compact fixture – which is where the X-Effects stood out.

  • Brightness: As some of these fixtures are used in a room with over 150K lumens of projection, the fixture had to not only be visible in a bright environment, but also stand on its own. The brightness on the X-Effects LED HO fixtures is unparalleled in the market.

  • Flexibility: Creatively we wanted several different water looks while maintaining the ability to alter and manipulate the effect. The X-Effects provides two rotating glass gobo slots in addition to a static gobo slot – allowing for near-infinite combinations and looks. Combining the gobos with a variety of lenses and variable focus allowed us to create any look we could imagine.

  • Compact Size: Some areas have a low ceiling height, which placed the fixtures just out of reach of the visitors – we needed a fixture that was small enough to fit into a variety of locations while not distracting from the overall picture.

  • Focus-ability: Being able to insert shutters when necessary was important to maintaining the integrity of projections when the X-Effects were used in the same space. The internal magnetic shutters stayed in position and allowed us to have edge-to-edge water effect coverage of the floor/walls that interfaced perfectly with our projections.

After extensive research and testing, the entire team agreed there was no other fixture on the market that could create as bright, varied water effects as the X-Effects LED HO Projectors.


Rosco X-Effects fixtures create realistic water effects inside the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Developing A New Gobo Combination

Rosco has an extensive gobo catalog, but choosing the right gobos to get the look was a time-intensive process. We ended up creating what I’m told is a brand-new gobo assembly for this fixture. We started with a two-week-long, full-scale mock-up of a section of the entry hallway to determine how things would look, both on the scrim ceiling and the adjacent scenery. We were very happy with the blue background water layer we were able to create using the RGBW X-Effects fixtures, but we were missing that more focused, sharp, white refraction pattern the sun and water movement creates in nature. This started our Research and Development on the custom gobo assembly.

A custom gobo combination was created for the X-Effects to create the sharp, white refractions seen when light reflects off of water in nature.Custom Gobo Stack: Steel #R79664 Reflected Water on one side with #R33624 Rain Glass Effects Gobo on the other.

Rosco graciously provided detailed drawings of the fixture to be digitally recreated so we could test gobo styles, stacks, and combinations. Through a series of discussions around the creative needs and price, we landed on combining a "Reflected Water" steel gobo with a textured "Rain Glass" Image Glass Gobo in the same bezel using a high-temperature silicone to hold them in place.

We loaded two of the custom gobos into the 5500K X-Effects fixtures, and rotated them opposite of one another. The final effect cut through the blue light of the RGBW fixtures beautifully to create a compelling and unique water effect. The result is stunning!

Technicians focusing a Rosco X-Effects to create the perfect reflected water effect inside The Blue Paradox.Ben and his Blue Paradox team focusing an X-Effects fixture.

The Final Results Inside The Blue Paradox

With nearly 200 X-Effects fixtures installed inside the experience, stability and ease of use were of the utmost importance. They installed easily, worked flawlessly with RDM, and have been the most consistent fixture in the whole rig. We have had no problems with the gobo rotation, which was a major consideration in choosing these fixtures.

Rosco X-Effects create a realistic reflected water effect inside The Blue Paradox at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Working with Rosco to accomplish the creative vision was a true pleasure. The entire team made themselves available for creative development, equipment testing, research, and numerous other things. Rosco's Tom Siko led the team and was in constant communication to ensure we were well taken care of and the process was going well. This collaboration was key to a successful installation and the spectacular final results!

Visitors are surrounded by the reflected water effect created by Rosco X-Effects fixtures inside the  Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.


The Blue Paradox at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
Created and Produced by RadicalMedia in partnership with Ogilvy Chicago for SC Johnson

Lighting Designer: Ben Bauer
Assistant Lighting Designer: Aaron Lichamer
Lighting Programmer: Kent Sprague
Production Electrician: Steve Wojda
Assistant Production Electrician: Kurtis Boekenhauer
Lighting Shop: Upstaging, Inc

If you would like to learn more about the fixtures that Ben Bauer used in the lighting design for The Blue Paradox – visit the X-Effects product page on the Rosco website.



Brittney Pecor January 17, 2024 Questions?

About Brittney Pecor

Prior to joining Rosco in 2018, Brittney worked as a lighting technician and light board operator in a variety of theatrical and concert venues. In her prior role as a Project Manager for our Rosco Architectural division, Brittney gained extensive knowledge of our architectural products as she built relationships with our customers. Her background in Live Entertainment and her experience with Rosco’s architectural products make Brittney a valuable resource for technicians and designers around the world.