Lighting techniques play an important role in preparing live performances. Whether you are working in a theater or concert stage or other performance spot, lighting technicians make light design in a physical reality. Due to the use of lighting technology, technicians must keep abreast of developments in lighting and lighting equipment. Lighting techniques are sometimes also called production electricians.
Lighting technicians place each light on the theater or other place the places designated by the designer. This is known as "hanging". When the lights are hung, they are connected to specific circuits that allow them to be controlled by an illumination console, more known as a light on board. Techniques add color filters, so-called gels, and sometimes patterns, so-called gobos, to the lights. The lights are then focused not only on aiming a certain direction, but also to control each beam for sharpness (clarity of the edge) and, in some cases, the shape and size.
In addition to the ability to manually manipulate lighting instruments to hang and focus them properly, light engineers need to read lightweight sites. Plots are blueprint style drawings of the designer's plan for a show, and each type of light has a symbol and various other names that are marked on the plot and its accompanying paperwork. Lighting technicians must prepare the lights in an arena right from this chart, often without the designer present until the focus stage of the process.
A thorough understanding of each type of stage lighting instrument is necessary for lighting technicians. They must be comfortable adapting the documents quickly, often from high heights and insecure positions, such as tops of rolling ladders. Technicians must also have an understanding of security procedures to secure the lights so that they do not fall and hurt anyone.
Lighting technicians are often responsible for maintaining lighting and electrical equipment in a theater. They perform basic repairs on light instruments and electrical cables, and they may be invited to build special lighting effects or to fix and maintain other electrical equipment. An understanding of electrical capacity safety and load (how much power a circuit or wire can handle) is important.
High school or college technical theater classes combined with practical training is a common way to a position as a lighting technician. Internships are valuable for education in occupational settings and gain experience. When a light technician has any professional experience, she can take a test to join the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) to become employed at EU-connected theaters.