I was chatting last night with a friend of mine about lighting designers, and lighting console programmers (often called Board Programmers or Board Ops), and about how the lighting industry has changed in the 20 years or so I’ve been involved with it. I said… that I think that once upon a time, lighting designers knew how to turn on lights, how to focus them, what the lights were capable of creating, and what lighting consoles were capable of doing…
Then, well, moving lights started coming into fashion, and a new breed of person developed, the lighting programmer… a mercenary type guy who traveled with a case filled with various floppy disks and manuals, who specialized in knowing all the new fangled computer consoles and knowing how to take the 18 channels of control for this light and make magic happen.
All the old designers hired these guys to sweep in and make sense out of a layout of fixtures and create some lighting that would be attributed to the designer, and not the programmer. Some programmers were content to stay in the background, and some… well some wanted the limelight.
But the old designers, they wised up, or moved on. And the new designers, they were wise to the new consoles and didn’t have that learning curve that the old designers faced. Things came more naturally, and while the programmers fought for attention, or credit, or a higher day rate, the young designers just did the work, and made their own magic.
I’m not really any of those people, I think I’m more the happy-go-lucky guy that talks to the director, understands the intent of the project, and is willing to work with all of those lost souls to build something together. No real attitude anymore. I’ve seen how silly the others look when they try to flex their power, etc.
But what will happen next? Only one thing is for certain, and that is that when we start to think we have it all figured out, it will be too late, because things will have already changed.