Role of a Lighting Director: Understand Needs, Goals of Production

Role of a Lighting Director: Understand Needs, Goals of Production

Knowing the roles of different members of the team allows you to separate and focus on them as you and the production team go through the steps of creating a production.

A Lighting Director?

We're just happy to have someone running the lights on a Sunday morning, who isn't also doing words or sound!

If you are making use of lighting technology in your services, then you have the need to fulfill the various roles within a lighting team…

Statistics of attendance, and therefore volunteer base, for more than half the churches in this country show that this is more than likely the situation you are in. So then why is it worth knowing the roles within a lighting team? And know the role of Lighting Director, the most senior role on the lighting team too?

Regardless of the size of your church, if you are making use of lighting technology in your services, then you have the need to fulfill the various roles within a lighting team, even if it is only one or two people wearing all the hats on the team.

So let's take a quick look at a basic lighting team before we dive into the LD role.

A typical lighting team:

Designer/Director

The top dog! We'll get to this role in a minute.

Programmer

This person knows the console best and also has creative input when creating cues.

Board Operator

The board operator runs the console and maintains the original concepts.

Crew Chief/Master Electrician

This person is hands on when building or changing any part of the rig.

Technician

Think MacGyver here, build it, fix it and maintain it.

Follow Spot Operators

Just like it sounds, operating a follow spot to highlight the folks on stage as directed.

So what role does the Lighting Director play in the lighting team?

Concept:

A Lighting Director works directly with the lead people (Worship Pastor, Speaking Pastor, Music Director, Choreographer) to understand the needs and goals of the production. This may be as simple as knowing ahead of time what songs are being used this Sunday, or as complicated as a full Easter or Christmas production. The importance here is working to make lighting a cohesive blend with the rest of what is being planned.

Design:

Here the LD needs to choose fixtures, their placement and other choices, like color and softness for the purpose of achieving the concepts discussed. This can be as formal as drafting a lighting plot and fixture schedule, to napkin sketches. It should also include the means to power/dim fixtures and how to control automated fixtures.

Preproduction:

With your LD hat on, it is time to put your plot in place and get ready for rehearsal. Once you, the Crew Chief and Technician have got the rig changed, then you can work with the Programmer to set levels, colors and cues.

Rehearsal:

At this point, the role of the LD starts to fade back as the Programmer or Operator step into their roles. The LD is still present to ensure the overall vision and look are maintained and conveyed.

So how does this work if the whole lighting team is just one or two people?

Knowing these roles allows you to separate and focus on them as you and the production team go through the steps of creating a production. Even the regular Sunday to Sunday process can benefit.

On Tuesday when you are talking with the Worship Pastor, your LD hat is on for gathering facts this Sunday's service. Are there any special songs, videos or speaker's needs? Discussing fixture limitations or power patching may not be relevant here. You still have to figure that out, but that will come after this fact gathering process.

If your rehearsals are Wednesday or Thursday, then you have a day or two to put your other hats on and get through Preproduction.

Rehearsal is a good time to practice changing hats. You're probably speaking as an LD with the Pastor when discussing transitions between songs, or as a crew chief to the facilities person, and as a programmer to the volunteer you are training.

In all these roles, remain relevant to the hat! The Pastor may not need to hear about a wiring problem until later, when rehearsal or production are over, and the volunteer needs to learn the console first and not the specifics of why a 30-degree hang is better for video than a 45 degree hang on front lights.

Knowing what role you are in and how to fulfill it brings out your best, benefits the production and strengthens those around you.

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