The profession of a lighting tech includes setting, controlling and rigging sets and stages of artificial lights for various types of events. A couple common events include entertainment venues and art galleries, including live music and theatre, television, video, and film productions.
When used in theatre production, the responsibilities include those under a master electrician and lighting designer to achieve the desired outcome. Within television, video and film this profession is under the chief lighting technician or gaffer, who receives direction directly from the cinematographer. Whereas in live music, such as concerts a lighting director instructs the tech on what needs to be completed. The production manager oversees all of the above-mentioned positions.
There are various elements that these people are responsible for, such as setting up equipment and preparing for the movements, shadows, depth of field, contrast and visual effects needed. Additionally, it may require wire fixtures, electrical cables, image patterns, or color effects to be installed. Lights may need focusing, and they may have to help with developing various effects or programming sequences.
There are many safety precautions and concerns associated with the job, including working and rigging up objects that get extremely hot and heavy.
There are unions that offer recognition and certification to qualified members. For instance, the IATSE, ESTA, and ETCP. Today, there are standardized basic skills required for the position, resulting in safer stage setup.
Film Lighting Technician
The rigging ELT are alternatively known as the juicer, spark, electric, or lamp operators of the industry. In motion picture environments, they oversee all required aspects of electricity, focusing on the direction provided from the chief tech. or gaffer. In addition, they conduct the following:
- Explain requirements of the production with camera operators
- Review scripts, assess and consult director with requirements
- Choose the correct equipment and organize extra equipment
- Handle auxiliary and console equipment
- Focus on setting up and operating required elements
- Utilizing computer or manually controlled consoles.
- Selecting and combining colors to reach desired patterns.
- Manage generators
- Discover special and new techniques
- Conduct regular maintenance, such as replacing damaged parts to ensure a safe work area
Specialized responsibilities include:
- Manual operators
- Dimmer or console board operators
- Following the spot operator
Stage Lighting Technician
Those in the music industry are sometimes referred to as “techie”, “lampy”, or “sparky”. They are responsible for overseeing various areas of stage setup during concerts, among other events. This includes color patterns, dimming features, and packing up after the show ends.
The assistant follows the direction of the technician, who receives orders from the board programmer or board operator, which works directly under the Chief technician.
Depending on the industry, this position can vary in responsibilities. However, for the majority they are required to oversee or manually handle the electrical aspect of set up and tear down, in addition to controlling the lighting to achieve the desired outcome.