What is a Lighting Technician

What is a Lighting Technician and What is Their Role on Set?

The Lighting Technician is sometimes referred to by the nickname “sparks” because they are responsible for supplying the lighting and power supply for film production both in the studio and on location. Lighting technicians are also sometimes called the Lighting Operator or the Lighting Electrician, interchangeably.

Lighting technicians must have working experience of at least 3 years where they are trained or work under an apprenticeship program before they are fully qualified to begin work “on the road” with the lighting team. As such, they must be at least 23 years old and have a minimum of two years working in the field before they can become credentialed as a lighting technician. Generally, after they reach the age of maturity and qualification to call themselves the lighting technician they will then begin work on commercials or feature films.

Lighting Technician

Lighting Technician Responsibilities

Sparks carry several responsibilities that can vary with the size and scope of the production they are working on. Some productions require several lighting technicians to work together on the project whereas others may only employ a single technician to do the job. Most lighting technicians work as freelancers to establish a reputation in the field and then take on work representing the company that employs them. They are responsible for maintaining the proper care of lighting equipment, keeping it clean and organized and in solid working order.

Job Duties

Lighting technicians will sometimes work to set up lighting equipment prior to the shoot and they are responsible for carrying out important tests to ensure the equipment is working properly for the production. When a technician sets equipment up, their specialty is known as a Rigging Electrician.

Some technicians will work in a store style set up in the corner of the studio. These technicians are known as lighting storemen as they operate the Lighting Store. Here, they are responsible for all of the light bulbs and consumable products that are necessary to the role including traces and filters that may be used over lights to produce various special effects.

Lighting Setup

Finally, some lighting technicians are solely responsible for the movement and positioning of lights to create the desired effects during the shoot. These technicians are required to thoroughly understand the creative vision of the Director so that they can appropriately set lighting for the shoot.

Overall, responsibilities for the lighting technician can range drastically with each production. They must be able to easily adapt to the role as required and be prepared for changes as they come. Lighting technicians report to the Best Boy and must be knowledgeable of the appropriate health and safety regulations on set to ensure the safety of themselves and the rest of the team. Lighting technicians work under the direction of the Gaffer and Best Boy who act as team leads to coordinate the work ahead.

Lighting Technician Skills

Lighting technicians must possess several skills in order to carry out the work they are responsible for. Common skills include the ability to work comfortably at heights in a physically demanding role. Stamina and agility are necessary to ensure the lighting technician can carry out the work that often requires extensive hours and takes place in unpredictable settings. Technicians often find themselves working 6 long days per week, sometimes as long as 12 or 14 hours per day.

Lighting technicians must be able to maintain the desired work schedule without tiring out and losing their ability to properly manage the tasks at hand. Work must remain accurate and be completed quickly so attention to detail is another must have skill.

Lighting Setup 2

Communicating with the rest of the lighting team and the production team is necessary for good lighting technicians to properly carryout their duties so they must possess strong communication skills. Additionally, lighting technicians must set lights on location so traveling long distances is often a necessary requirement for the job. A clean driver’s license is required for insurance purposes to allow for the transport of lighting equipment. The technician may also be required to carry a LGV license in order to drive various sized vehicles for the transport of equipment.

Small productions may have a single lighting technician while larger productions often have several technicians working together. Flexibility, communication and the ability to work both individually and as a team are required skills.

alisWebsite uploaded a really informative video showing off the job of a film lighting technician:



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