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What Are the Different Types of Lighting Designer Jobs?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Lighting designer jobs combine art with science, and are available in many different fields. In theater and film, lighting designers are responsible for designing the visual tone through light, and work carefully with other members of the creative team. Architectural designers help ensure that the lighting within a building or outdoor space is functional and meets the needs of diverse clients. Video game and animation lighting designer jobs take design into the virtual world, helping to create the correct balance and tone of light in an artificial environment.

Theatrical lighting designer jobs involve the choice, design, and placement of lights for a staged production. Lighting designers in this field must understand how to break down a script, looking for clues that might indicate light source and atmosphere. These designers often coordinate closely with directors and set designers, helping to create a unified vision that enhances the story.

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Film lighting designers are called gaffers, and typically work in close contact with the cinematographer. Although the gaffer is technically the head electrician, he or she must be able to think creatively in order to help the cinematographer create the lighting necessary for each shot. Lighting designer jobs in film require the ability to improvise and think on the move, since existing lighting conditions, available power sources, and even equipment can all vary from shot to shot. In addition to being an important creative resource, a gaffer must also understand the practical and scientific side of lighting, in order to avoid blowing fuses or damaging expensive equipment.

Architectural lighting design jobs focus on creating permanent spaces for a specific purpose. Whether designing the interior of a home, a hundred story office building, or an outdoor bandstand, professionals in this field need to be able to think about functionality, durability, and artistry with equal ease. Lighting designers in this field may work as freelancers, but may also hold permanent positions with architectural firms. For those looking for a stable career, architectural design may be a better option than theater or film jobs.

One of the most fascinating types of lighting designer jobs requires the ability to blend the real with the imagined. Virtual lighting design, used in the creation of video games and animation, is a fast-growing field for intrepid designers. While lighting designers in this field don't have to worry about bulky equipment or unexpected rainstorms, they typically have a strong understanding of natural light as well as programming skills. Training for careers in this field is complicated, and may involve education and experience in other forms of lighting design, computer programming, and animation.

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