9 Essential Tools All Electrical Lighting Technicians Need

Lighting technician using lighting tools to create production

Interested in becoming an electrical lighting technician or working on a film set? There are nine essential tools that you should have at your disposal. There are few things that can ruin a film set or production–like improper lighting. Whether on a film set or a theatrical production, the lighting crew is an integral to a production’s success. Lighting technicians undergo education and training through video production schools to become electrical lighting technicians. While the duties may vary depending on the production, the role is extremely important. Likewise, so are the tools lighting technicians need to help everything run smoothly. But what kind of tools? Here are nine critical tools any electrical lighting technician on a film crew needs to help any gig run smoothly.

Tool #1: Multi-tool

This is referred to as a “leatherman”, this is the first tool that an electric lighting technician goes to while on assignment. A multi-tool will have several components like knife blades of varying lengths and a set of scissors.

Some will start out with a Swiss army knife, but as one progresses and goes on to bigger projects a sturdier multi tool is recommended. There are even those who’ll go for ones made of carbon steel to withstand certain conditions. For example a rigger’s multi-tools may have up to 14 different functions.

Tool #2: Line Tester

A line tester pretty much does what it’s named for. This device is used by an electrical lighting technician to check if a wire has any current running through it. It’s handy in case there happens to be a disruption and an electrical lighting technician has to figure out where in the network of wires and cables it is.

Tool #3: Circuit Tester

This tool is more advanced than a line tester, in that it uses lights to indicate if there’s an issue with the current in wires as well as outlets and GFCIs, or ground-fault circuit interrupters that serve as circuit breakers. A circuit tester will also help a tech figure out the polarization levels.

Tool #4: Flashlights and Headlamps

There will be moments when there isn’t sufficient lighting for production, as well as moments when power goes out on set. Having a flashlight is definitely necessary, and in this line of work a good flashlight that can withstand wear and tear is key.

There are going to be moments where an electrical lighting technician will need both hands for a task and direct lighting, so a tech will need to utilize a headlamp. Most opt for headlamps that are long-lasting and not too bulky.

Tool #5: Clothes Pegs

Believe it or not, these are key pieces of equipment for film crews on motion picture and television sets. Clothes pegs are referred to as C-47, and they’re primarily used to affix gels to lights. But they can also be used to provide highly precise leveling or they can be modified to get scrims off of lights. Laundry clothes pegs will work in a pinch, but most electrical lighting technicians go for heavy-duty options.

Tool #6: Tape Measure

Yes, electrical lighting technicians need to have a tape measure on hand. These tools are especially important when working to set up wiring in cramped locations.

Tool #7: Cube Tap

These little plastic adapters are commonly referred to as “cube taps“. These tools are used by electrical lighting technicians to split alternating currents. Cube taps also come in handy because of their fixed 90-degree outlets.

Tool #8: Wire Strippers

Wire strippers (or pliers) help an electrical lighting technician out in so many ways on set. Of course, they’re good to strip wires down for any maintenance or crimping necessities. In addition, some have different nose lengths to help with wire looping and pulling.

Tool #9: Screwdriver

Lastly, a screwdriver is a good tool to have for an electrical lighting technician to help out other grips with certain duties on a film set. Many electrical lighting technicians opt to carry a small set with varying driver heads to help set up and break down different pieces of equipment on-set and backstage.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are an electrical lighting technician or part of the film crew, having these nine tools can make or break the production. Make sure the budget allows for these tools and that you are prepared for anything that can happen on the film set. When the moment comes and it is up to you to fix something on the film set, you want to make sure you have the right tool for the job.

Want to Learn More?

There’s a lot that lighting technicians have to do, and these tools represent how intensive their duties are during any artistic production. If reading about these different tools and how they’re utilized has further piqued your interest about the world of lighting technicians, feel free to find out more about the Digital Video Production Program by visiting IPR and learning more the training needed for such a career.

IPR’s Digital Video and Media Production Programs can lead to a variety of entry points in the digital video and media production industry. We help you build a strong visual portfolio for your career search through time in our studios. Using the latest industry-standard tools, our digital video production school immerses you in your video and film production artistry, both in theory and application, emphasizing corporate and commercial production, as well as short and feature narrative filmmaking. We equip you with a toolbox that includes all aspects of digital video and media production skill.

Contact us today to learn more about the Digital Video and Media Production associate and bachelor’s degree. Starting a rewarding career as an associate producer is closer than you may think!