Cinematography Production

Professional Training for Lighting Technicians

The qualifications necessary to perform most of the duties of a lighting technician include a basic understanding of electrical safety, the ability to recognize and avoid the possible hazards involved, and a good working knowledge of the equipment. In addition, in the United States, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Electrical Code (NEC) require that workers receive training. In several places the NEC provides that certain practices be allowed provided that they are under the supervision of a “qualified person.” The NEC actually defines the term “qualified person” as follows:

Film Lighting Technician

Photo Courtesy of Sean Gardner

Qualified Person

One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved.

NFPA 70E is the basic electrical safety training that is regulated by OSHA. Such training is routinely given in industry training programs like the Safety Pass Training program provided by Contract Services to train freelance employees in the motion picture and television industry. Generally the program covers topics that are subject to OSHA regulation. Certain classes of the Safety Pass program are mandatory for Lighting Technicians to be included on the Industry Experience Roster. A list of these courses pertaining to Studio Electricians and Grips are here:www.csatf.org/sppdesc.pdf.

Anyone can make a web search for Electrical Safety Program online find all manner of resources — DVDs, CDs, booklets and seminars. It is recommended that any person working outside the Experience Roster system, in the non-union world, take a basic electrical safety class that meets OSHA standards.

Advanced Training

In recent years the necessity for more advanced training has been met by a variety of union training programs that provide excellent practical training. For example in Los Angeles, Local 728 provides one-day training classes in a wide variety of subjects including: Rigging, Power Systems, 480V Systems, Fixtures, DMX, Networks, Wet Locations, Underwater Scuba, the operation of a variety of advanced control consoles and media servers, and the operation of followspots, to name just a few. These classes are funded by a combined fund from Local 728 and Contract Services. The classes benefit the membership, explaining important safety guidelines and skills members can use to further their careers.

Training for Ligthing Technicians

Photo Courtesy of Sean Gardner

Additionally, many manufacturers provide training on their equipment or seminars for the public benefit. Lighting console and moving light manufacturers have open house events, classes and workshops. Many light manufacturers such as Mole Richardson and ARRI offer educational events. Private companies offer weekend seminars that are open to the public for a fee. These seminars typically bring together working professionals with representatives from manufacturers who discuss and demonstrate their products and provide tips and share their experience. The Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) provides a formal solution to the question of qualifications. The program certifies a number of different types of work. The Certified Entertainment Electrician program is described by ETCP as follows:

This certification encompasses the installation, interconnection, safe use, and repair of all portable distribution; utilization of entertainment industry-related electrical equipment; and the safe use of all venue electrical equipment. Additionally, this certification deals with the design, layout, and interconnection of portable electrical distribution equipment, including generation if necessary, as well as the safe connection of portable distribution feeders to fixed power sources.

Such a certification program is a win-win for producers and employees alike. The producers finally have a certification process for advanced work that answers their liability needs. The employee who earns status as a Certified Theatrical Electrician moves out of the category of “unskilled labor” and can command a better salary.

Excerpted from The Set Lighting Technician’s Handbook by Harry Box © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved

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1 Comment
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