I consider an LED technician to be a video tech, rather than a lighting tech.
The defense I argue for a LED specialist being more of a video, rather than lighting tech, is due to the case usages where I have seen LED directly replace a traditional video screen, albeit a projector and screen or large monitor. In these scenarios a video tech is the position that has been replaced by a LED tech; however, there is still the same amount of video processing if not more. If a lighting tech were called upon for every video usage of LED panels, our industry would quickly find itself short of L1’s!
I have a massive amount of respect for lighting techs, especially with regards to their workflow process and creative talents. No doubt, the knowledge needed to ensure a large video wall is properly built lends itself to the traditional skills of a lighting tech, especially given the sheer scale of everything. They are much more versed in dealing with hundreds of fixtures, thousands of fail points, and the power structure of the system. However, all of this would not be completely foreign to a large venue projectionist or seamless video wall tech.
In my opinion, the key distinguishing factor is the video canvas and resolution knowledge needed to successfully plan for and display content on a wall. Some of the first steps in configuring a LED wall is to calculate the area of each wall in pixels and figure out how best to divide and route the signal. I am pretty insulated and spoiled working at Evolve but with respect to the corporate events side of the industry where walls and custom sets are being built and mapped with massive amounts of processing, there needs to be heavy involvement of a video engineer/designer to ensure the signal flow and pixel mapping are accurate.
I’ve been able to witness the learning struggles of new LED techs as they work at understanding and memorizing bandwidths, pixel spaces, scaling, and video cables; all of which a decent video tech understands. Much of this information would be new to a lighting tech, and I find it a boon for this argument that after learning LED fully they would then have a solid foundation to start working with video processors. A video tech doing LED would be at a total loss if they had to properly wash a stage and program two universes of moving lights.
LED processors are also becoming much more powerful and all-encompassing by allowing a lot of the scaling and processing that a video device is needed for to be done at the LED processor. This coupled with the fast growth of LED is pushing many video techs to start learning LED as they already feel comfortable with pixel math, color calibration, and other soft skills and only need focus on learning the LED hardware and processor software.
Stay tuned for my next blog… “Why all AV Techs are Network Engineers!”
The fact of the matter is that designing, building, and configuring a LED wall in today’s industry takes a specialized set of skills that require training and experience to achieve. I have seen many video and lighting techs take LED classes to better understand this booming side of the field. And so long as we are all communicating and working together to ensure the success of an event, we’re all “Show Techs”!