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careers in lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by raeraeiam, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. raeraeiam

    raeraeiam Member

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    forgive me if theres been a post on this before, but i didnt see one.
    this is mainly for those of you who are working in the business.
    can you tell me what kind of degree you have?
    would you recommend a BA or a BFA?
    what type of work are you doing now, or what have you done in the past?
    would you recommend any good schools?

    i'm a junior and starting to seriously look around. i'm looking at lighting design for a major. i'd really like to go in or around Chicago, so I can be close to home.
    i'm looking into DePaul Loyola UIC and ISU. any information would be greatly appreciated, i've been thinking of all these things and it seems like the best people to ask would be those in the business, and since everyone on this site has always been very helpful, i thought i'd give it a chance.
    thanks!
     
  2. Jezza

    Jezza Active Member

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    Check out Northwestern....I've heard they have a pretty good program.
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I would suggest a BFA, but its all in what you want from the program. A BFA will give you a much more concentrated education in theatre, where a BA will give your more broad education it things beyond theatre. If you want to design for a living, you will (most likely, not always) need a MFA, so its a good idea to go into undergrad with what you need to get out of it. A few other schools to look at in the midwest/Illinois area, Illinois Weslyan, Webster, Millikin, and SIUE/SIUC. I have worked with people that have come out of every university and each have their strong point. UofI has a great program, but as an undergrad you get little hands on experience. Depaul also has a good program, but they are also very weird about their grading systems and the way the treat their students. What you really need to do is go in and visit each school and see what you like/dislike about each. Don't go in going "they have 9 billion source fours and 2 million mac 2ks". Talk to the students their, look at what those students are now doing.
     
  4. raeraeiam

    raeraeiam Member

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    That is definetly what I'm doing - im actually going to see one this Friday.
    basically my major concern is BA vs BFA. to me, it seems more logical to have a BA, because coming out of college with only one option seems scary - but then again, i've heard numerous times that there's plenty of work in this field, so maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing..?
     
  5. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    It's all what you want. I wanted a small college, with flexibility to take classes in other areas (electrical and mechanical engineering, and some physics). We've got one lighting & sound professor total, but it's a great education. I'm already designing and running shows, but I'm only a freshman. We're running a console that was originally designed to just be a "beta console", but we've got all the fun old stuff. We've got 6 intelligent fixtures (we're lucky if all of them work). And instead of half a zillion color scrollers or half a zillion gobo rotators, we've just got a very few of everything. We've got some new S4's and S4 pars, some old S4's and S4 pars. We've got old fixtures...4.5 and 6 zoom lekos, mostly. Some rotators, some scrollers, two I-Cues, some film FX loops, some strobes, some source four strobe heads, some...yeah. You get the idea. We don't have alot of it, but we've got one of everything, so I get hands-on experience with just about all of the kinds of things that I'll encounter. Our theaters are far from ideal, but how many theaters are? We have to deal with our blackbox that many times requires hanging yourself from the grid and swinging across to get to hanging positions. If you want to go beyond the first level sound and lighting classes, it's time for independent study, and you can choose what you want to study. Theater lighting, Dance lighting, Concert lighting, whatever. There's also a whole class on CAD drawing, and there's VectorWorks, MacLux Pro, and soon to be Softplot on the computers. Not many computers, but there's alot of software to get experience with.

    Let's just say that I didn't come here because of the huge amount of gear.

    I also think that a wide variety of experiences on campus is a good thing. I work in the scene shop, I work in the music performance hall and on outside calls, and I work shows in the theater. I work for two main organizations: theater and dance, and performance services (music hall and around campus calls), and that means that I'm getting experience with two different managements.
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    This is probably the best piece of advice I have ever been given, and I was given it when I was in High School asking the exact same questions you are. It is..."Only do theatre if there is NOTHING that you would rather do, and if there is anything out there you would rather do, go do that". My opinion would be to get the BFA, you will have a bit more options, but its really in what you want. A degree in technical theatre is actually pretty marketable in other fields. Drafting firms love to have people that were trained in theatre, as well as architectural firms, and you can always go pick up a hammer. I would say go balls out and get the degree you want, do your best at it. Take away everything you can and you shouldn't have to worry about getting a job. I can not stand it when people go into a career due to the current job market. I can not tell you how many of my friends have a Business degree because they thought they would make a ton of money at it, and are now doing some crappy sales job. Do what degree suits you, and when you leave figure out what you want to make it.

    Another thing to consider is what other things you can do besides theatre at the university. Is there a road house on campus that you can work at? Is there an IA local in the area that you can overhire for?
     
  7. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    ISU did me well. Interesting that given where you are you did not mention NIU. While not 100% impressed with NIU, I have met some very decent tech people that came out of that program and it's local. Not trained in a ISU type of way of course but ....

    I'll PM a few six companies to look towards locally.

    Lots of past discussion about Illinois schools, believe Columbia and Ithica also came up along with the BFA/BA debate.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2007
  8. raeraeiam

    raeraeiam Member

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    i will tell you why i didnt mention NIU. its twenty minutes from home. which means, my parents would just love it if i stayed home..! not too thrilled about that..

    plus, i'd really love to work in chicago after school, and so it seems logical to go to school in the area.
     
  9. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Staying at home is a big advantage for the finances. You won't be risking getting a horrid credit score.
     
  10. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Here's what you do.... since you're majoring in theatre you tell the folks that you would feel safer, and they should too, if you were to live on campus the requisit first two years. Since you are going to be in Technical Rehearsals and load-ins really late at night it would make sense if you lived on campus so you could just stumble home after a long nights partyi...... Um working. Hey I went to school 40 minutes from home and it worked for me. By the third year My wife and I moved in together cause we could save so much more money than living in the dorms.
    I have heard many a good thing about Northwestern.:mrgreen:
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I would look other places in the state besides the chicago area schools. Illionis/missouri/indiana/wisconsin are full of good theatre schools. Getting out of the Chicago area for school will not leave you without a job when you get out. Also, I would get out of your house no matter what, the major that you have currently chosen means lots of late nights (can't tell you how many times I'm up till 3am doing shop drawings/finishing a plot/model), early mornings and loud music... and other things...
     
  12. taylorjacobs

    taylorjacobs Member

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    A little of topic, but never the less what has everyone heard about Cincinatti Conservatory regarding LD. I am visiting them next weekend and so far seem very impressed. Does anyone know any good schools for LD in the Texas area?
     
  13. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Oklahoma at Norman has a good lighting program. There are some great univerisitys for lighting design in the texas area. High end has a test facility at one of the university, can't remember which (but i'm sure someone here knows). One of my friends is at Cincinnati for Wig Design (yes its actually a major, and a well paying one at that) and she spoke well of the lighting dept.
     
  14. musiclover2108

    musiclover2108 Member

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    DePaul is a really good program im going to visit in a couple of weeks other good schools are carengie mellon, syracuse, and NCSA...im a junior also and im visiting /applying for CMU and syrcause.
     
  15. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Something to be said about the "College Experience." It's indeed very difficult to live at home or close enough to home while going to school. Been there, done that, didn't work out so well for me until I did go away. Something about the environment and the seperation which helps with the experience. Good point. I do recommend going away to school - or at least a decent car ride away.

    Of schools, this might limit Columbia which has a bit less of a campus environment.
     
  16. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I interviewed for the TD job at Northwestern way back when.... about eight years ago. Wasn't sufficiently qualified. Guess I'll have to keep studying. :)
     
  17. KaR356i

    KaR356i Member

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    I agree about the benefits of living on campus. Moving away from home and emersing yourself in your new environment plays a big part in how much you'll get out of the college experience! I looked at a lot of the large schools with well known theatre departments when I decided I wanted to be an LD. The thing that turned me away was that you couldn't get a lot of hands on experience until you were several years into the program. I did end up going to a large university in my hometown for a year.... I couldn't get into a single tech class or anything within the theatre department even though that was my declaired major... there were too many people and the classes were full! That lasted an entire year. So I changed schools. I ended up finding a very small school with a very good theatre department, two theatres, good equipment, and fabulous teachers. Within the first year I became an ME, SM, and assistant LD. The oportunities, experience, and contacts I made there landed me my first few professional jobs while I was still I student. I've been out for several years and I certainly am glad I got the benefits of a small theatre department- they were my family away from home!

    So, just my two cents, but from my experience, I'd suggest looking hard for a small school that you can get hands-on experience right away! You'll love it.

    Good luck!
     
  18. Too_Tall

    Too_Tall Member

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    i would suggest a BFA, simply because more people in the profession have one. Although it all depends on what you want to do after college. If you just want to be on the road and be an ME or something, then most of them are just straight out of high school, and then eventually work their way up to a designer. Although if you want to start out at a higher position, better pay, or stay at a theater, then BFA.
     
  19. LDtheLD

    LDtheLD Member

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    You all are making me feel a little regretful that I'm still living at home. :( I live 2 blocks away from campus and can't afford to pay rent right now, so it's just been a convenient arrangement. But maybe I'm not growing up as much as I could be. :grin:
     
  20. JSFox

    JSFox Active Member

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    UW Madison had a good program back in the 70's not sure if it's still any good or not. Ted Fuchs grandson went to the U of Illi for undergrad in LD and is doing his MFA at Cinnci College Conservatory. That ain't a bad rec for those institutions.
     

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