Introduction of Lighting Technician
They are not in the spotlight, but they are the specialists who ensure lighting on the sets of films, advertisements, concerts, videos, and television and theatrical productions. Lighting technicians, sometimes known as “sparks,” are educated to put up and operate regular lighting and special effects equipment like searchlights and strobes. Their efforts provide each programme or shoot with a distinct style and help to create the appropriate mood in each scene in order to captivate the viewer.
Similar Job Titles
- Electrical Lighting Technician (ELT)
- Lighting Tech, Electrician
- Lighting Tech
- Dimmer Technician
- The Lighting Operator
- The Lighting Electrician
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Lightning Technicians do?
A Lighting Technician would typically need to:
- Set up, operate, and monitor lighting and special effects equipment for live or recorded performances, concerts, TV, film, or theatre productions; interpret and bring a lighting designer’s concepts for a TV, film, or theatrical set to life through an understanding of electrical systems.
- Collaborate with clients at all stages of production; travel to and analyze locations ahead of time to prepare reports; communicate during production to make required modifications
- Work with artistic directors and directors to understand requirements; work under the supervision of a lighting director; aid lighting engineers or designers in managing what needs to be created and improved.
- Communicate with and learn from the theatrical stage manager, the film or television floor manager, the gaffer, and the best boy.
- Collaborate effectively with larger crews, especially on film sets
- Attend production meetings and annotate screenplays to assess the creative direction, production budget, and lighting needs.
- Coordinate the equipment and production process with the sound and camera departments.
- Maintain lighting equipment; test all components for optimal functioning
- Conduct risk assessments for health & safety purposes
- Employ and train installers and lighting crew on technical areas as well as how to maintain workplace safety and efficiency.
- Organise scaffolding, overhead walkways, and cranes
- Pre-rig lighting by deciding where to run cables and place lights, taking care to safely conceal all cords and wires.
- Assemble and install lighting and filter equipment; install lamps, fixtures, and ballasts to meet the event’s scope and specs. energize automatic colour change systems to assist with the rigging and inspection of the equipment
- Manual and computer-controlled lighting systems, special visual effects, coloured lights, stage lighting dimmers, control switches, and reflectors must all be programmed and operated.
- Monitor lighting focusing during practices and during performances or shoots; alter lighting between shots as needed.
- Manage the FOH (front of house) mix, monitor mix, and video presentation editing mix all at the same time.
- Provide emergency medical treatment to protect injured crew members
- De-rig lighting setups post-production; supervise the safe relocation of the equipment
- Review footage with the client and director to make necessary adjustments to lighting
Standard Work Environment
Lighting technicians generally work in a variety of venues, such as interior film sets, studios, or theatres, as well as outdoor spaces or city streets. Some may even work outside, setting up pyrotechnics or firework displays for rock concerts and other events. Indoor spaces can be well-lit and pleasant, or they can be claustrophobic and crowded. Different weather conditions accompany outdoor sites, necessitating suitable gear.
Because of the nature of the task, protective clothes such as boots and equipment such as safety harnesses may be required, especially while working at heights such as elevated walkways, ladders, cranes, or scaffolding.
Lighting technicians may be required to commute between jobs within the same city. Touring productions necessitate months of travelling between sites throughout the country or even beyond. Some filming locations may be nearby, while others may be in remote locales.
Lighting Technicians often begin their day between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and work approximately 40 hours per week, particularly when involved in broadcasting work. A typical day at work for television is 10 hours long, with an hour for lunch. However, depending on the nature of the production, you may be required to work long hours.
Schedules for filming may necessitate your attendance during the day, at night, or on weekends. Working late into the evenings and in night shifts is customary for live performances. When working in the theatre, you would install equipment for rehearsals throughout the day and be the last ones out after late-night shows.
Touring performances and road shows need you to stay away from home for several months at a time.
You may get an entry-level position with a company that rents out lighting equipment. Lighting technicians may be able to freelance if they have established a professional network of contacts with crew chiefs, designers, entertainment firms, and rental event companies in order to generate a continuous stream of projects at community performance and events venues. You could also work for record companies on national or regional tours. Contractual work is common.
Keep in mind that, while some theatrical companies or institutions focusing on performance may hire you as in-house staff if you have experience, well-educated technical directors are more likely to land these positions. Television broadcasting allows you to have consistent work at the same station for numerous years.
Names of specialized lighting businesses can be found in the credits of films and TV shows, or by searching through directories and contacting them directly.
Jobs in the theatre, cinema, and television industries are common in cities, but competition is fierce and vacancies are scarce.
Lighting Technicians are generally employed by:
- Record Labels
- Specialist Lighting Companies
- Animation Studios
- Gaming Companies
- Film & Video Production Studios
- Advertising Agencies
- Graphic Design Firms
- Web Design Firms
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional organizations and associations, such as the International Association of Lighting Management Companies (NALMCO), are essential for Marine Engineers who want to further their professional growth or network with other professionals in their sector or trade. Membership in one or more of these organizations adds value to your CV while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
- The need to work under a variety of conditions in studios which may be stuffy and crowded, or in buildings not equipped to accommodate high-tech lighting material, or in outdoor locations putting up with extreme weather conditions
- Physically strenuous work to lift and carry equipment; the need to be comfortable working on dizzying heights as work may take place on ladders, raised walkways, scaffolding, or cranes
- The need to wear protective clothing, such as hard hats, safety boots, and overalls, to comply with health & safety requirements
- Lack of job security as you need to find your next job after one production is complete
- Extended absence from home when filming on remote locations, sometimes overseas; living in cramped quarters with other crew when touring
Suggested Work Experience
Lighting Technicians normally need two to three years of experience, including training or apprenticeship programmes.
A vocational course in a similar field will help you develop practical skills ahead of time. Volunteering and working with lighting equipment for specialized lighting firms or theatre productions add to my professional experience.
You can begin to develop a solid technical foundation by simply assisting with student film projects and amateur video productions, as well as working with dramatic groups and professional lighting directors.
Some large broadcasters and regional screen agencies offer new Lighting Technicians on-the-job training and experience.
A high school graduation is required for Lighting Technicians. Although not required, associate, bachelor’s, or higher degrees in electrical engineering or physics provide experience for the technical aspects of the job. Lighting and sound design and technology, live event technology, motion picture, television, theatrical production, and stage management are all useful subjects.
Some Lighting Technicians begin as electricians and specialize in production lighting, but others may pursue lighting technician training. In either case, applicable occupational credentials or certificate courses in cinema and television lighting, electrical installation, technical theatre assistance, or production technology can help you advance your technical skills.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
A Lighting Technician’s proficiency in a skill set is demonstrated through work experience, training, and passing a test. It can help you stand out in a competitive job market, carry a large salary premium of up to 18%, boost your prospects of progression, and allow you to become an independent consultant if earned from an objective and reputable company.
You can obtain the introductory certification offered by NALMCO (the International Association of Lighting Management Companies) via a home study program that teaches you lighting terminology and operations and serves as a prerequisite for you to obtain further qualifications.
Projected Career Map
Beginning as technical apprentices in the theatre or concert techs for musical performances, Lighting Technicians learn about many facets of the work. They may advance to become Best Boys, Gaffers, and Lighting Directors. The abilities they learn will help them eventually become Lighting Designers. Lighting Technicians that are successful may even go on to develop their own live performances or become Technical Directors or Chief Electricians.
Aspiring Lighting Technicians with prior experience often find work in cinema and theatre. More diverse experience will enable you to obtain a higher quantity and range of jobs.
Stable entry-level employment at a local television station will help you gain experience for more difficult roles at larger stations.
With further experience, you may be able to handle more complex events or specialize in electrical safety, inspection, special effects, and pyrotechnics.
You could also branch out into other products or related disciplines like display lighting, architectural or industrial lighting, production design, or new lighting product design.
You would work as a freelancer on numerous productions with various film and television businesses.
Your work possibilities would improve with experience, certification, and the development of technical abilities. Geographic mobility, physical stamina, and a willingness to work at heights are all advantages.
Beneficial Professional Development
When qualified electricians with vocational training in electrical installation are employed, they often undergo on-the-job training in production lighting. They learn by seeing and inquiring, as well as working under the supervision of experienced technicians and interacting with colleagues.
Camera operations and sound recording are also taught to lighting technicians for films. Part-time education and practical training may be combined for some Technicians. They may choose to specialize in lighting design or study it as part of a general theatre course. They also take specialized training in technical lighting, special effects, safe lighting, and camera work.
Because electrical equipment and regulations are continually changing, you will require further training throughout your career. Look for courses that have a strong connection to the industry. Courses in specific lighting abilities and knowledge of other theatrical functions are often offered by relevant and approved colleges. Some television and theatre businesses may provide training programs.
A degree in fields such as manufacturing technology and management is also an option. As a freelance technician, taking responsibility for and supporting your professional growth is frequently the standard. Practical experience and a portfolio of your work can help you get into programmes. Joining a professional organization is an important strategy to stay up to date on industry trends.
Experimenting with new techniques and equipment, most usually outside of working hours, and sharing results with your network, is an important avenue of professional development.
Conclusion of Lighting Technician
Lighting technicians are vital to the success of any film or theatrical performance. Aside from being a crucial instrument for cast and setting visibility, light also focuses the audience’s attention on different regions of the stage or screen and creates a mood that stimulates the audience’s response and emotions.
Advice from the Wise
Allow the nature of the performance and its specific requirements to lead the lighting. Simple side lighting that emphasises movement is ideal for dance performances. Front lighting draws attention to the facial expressions of characters in a play. Although coloured lighting is commonly utilised, the type of performer would influence the sort of lighting for a concert.
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