What does a Lighting Designer do?

Lighting designers set up and manipulate lighting to set the mood and create a variety of illusions that help stage, film, and television productions succeed. She employs her lighting expertise to help the writer, director, and producer realize their shared vision. Through skilled manipulation and innovative illumination techniques, she can generally create any lighting situation that is required.

After reading the script, the lighting designer makes a list of the basic lighting that will be needed to illuminate the set and actors clearly. She then discusses the illusions she wants to create with the director and set designer. At this initial meeting, potential lighting issues and dark spots are discussed. During early rehearsals, the designer watches how the actors move and sees if their actions jeopardize the set’s lighting.

The lighting designer now begins to plot out her lighting strategy in greater detail. To perfect her strategy, she employs a variety of planning tools. Drawings and scale models of the set, as well as photos or paintings depicting the desired lighting results, may be used. A chart depicting the lighting to be used, as well as the necessary filters, dimmers, and other light-altering instruments, is created. A timeline is created, showing when each lighting change will take place.

A set is usually lit with a combination of direct and indirect lighting. Direct lighting is used to highlight important people and locations in the production. Indirect lighting should be subdued and almost imperceptible. The lighting designer’s goal is to achieve a delicate balance between the two. The lighting designer must be able to control four lighting properties in order to be successful in her profession. Intensity, color, distribution, and movement are among them. By mastering these elements, you can achieve almost any desired effect.

The lighting designer must frequently adjust the lighting’s intensity or brightness to reflect how the audience will perceive it. Designers use gels or filters to create colors and tints on a character’s face or to create the illusion of outside weather conditions on stage. Light distribution can be used to cleverly draw the viewer’s attention to points of interest while also downplaying distracting objects. The lighting designer may also use light to create subtle changes on stage that reflect the changing time of day during the performance.

Lighting designers frequently start out as lighting technicians before progressing to the position of designer. Lighting design classes are available at some colleges, universities, trade schools, and local theaters. Working on high school, community theater, and local college productions is a good way to gain experience in the field.