Live entertainment and theatrical productions are embracing the use of digital video and projection with increasing frequency. Audiences expect towering video screens to offer close-ups of the band for the people in the cheap seats, and the integration of multimedia into traditional theater has opened up an entirely new dimension of visual artistry on stage.
In a live entertainment or theatrical setting, video technicians are responsible for the installation, operation, maintenance, and repair of video and projection equipment; this may include media servers, digital video cameras, projectors, screens, and the grip kit. These technicians work under the supervision of the video supervisor, stage manager, and technical director during the run of a show, and work closely with the projection designer during rehearsal. In some instances, all video technicians on a crew may be tasked with running a camera during performance, but otherwise, the job is delegated to specifically trained video camera operators. Productions and concerts vary greatly in their use of video and projection; if required, a senior or lead video technician will control the switcher for live video and call cues via headset radio to video camera operators.
Skills & Education
Training in the use of video equipment and related accessories is required in this position. A video technician should have a firm understanding of electricity and lighting and some experience in troubleshooting and repairing electrical equipment. A college degree in video production or film is recommended, though not required. Courses in video broadcasting, electrical engineering, and photography are beneficial. This is a constantly evolving area of live entertainment, and as such, technicians are expected to stay current on the latest gear and continually be honing their skills. And before you ever set foot in a performance venue, make sure you know the right way to wrap your video cables; if you can’t over-under, don’t bother showing up.
What to Expect
On any live production, the video crew usually has the easiest load-in and load-out, as they typically have the least equipment—that’s the plus side. On the other hand, touring, outdoors locations, and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on video gear, which is notoriously sensitive. The biggest chore of the gig is simply keeping your gear clean and in proper working order. Take the time to learn proper maintenance, and take the extra few minutes required to clean your lenses and remove dust. It will save you a mountain of problems in the end and endear you to your supervisor. Experienced video technicians can find employment on a variety of productions, like traditional theater, touring concerts, theme parks, and sporting events. Trade shows and performance venues also regularly staff local crews on a freelance basis.
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