Light jockey

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Light show in a nightclub

The term Lightjockey (short LJ , female LJane , German: "Light Jockey") refers to a person who is usually in nightclubs so-called by the operator light desks or light controller light shows staged in real time and controls.

The light jockey is not an official job description with its own training regulations . Rather, the name developed based on the term disc jockey (DJ).


There is also a conceptual and substantive relationship with the activity of the visual jockey (VJ), who instead of lighting effects primarily uses video animations projected onto screens or monitors in order (like the light jockey ) to visually stimulate his recipients. Literally translated, “light jockey” roughly means light changer, which always means a person and not a device. Often trained lighting technicians also take on the role of an LJ - such technical training is not a mandatory requirement for the LJ job. Because a certain basic knowledge of light and lighting technology is definitely an advantage, but not absolutely necessary to create a good light show. The expert knowledge of an LJ is primarily aimed at the operation of the light controllers / light consoles and only secondarily on the lighting devices controlled by them. Likewise, the installation and maintenance of lighting equipment does not fall into the area of ​​responsibility of light jockeys, but rather that of lighting technicians - the term "light jockey" exclusively describes the role of the artistically acting operator of a lighting system. In the field of professional event technology, the term "light jockey" is incidentally not in use. The operator of a lighting desk is called the operator there. A band's lighting technician, for example, also works creatively - but usually doesn't call himself a light jockey.

Differentiation from the lighting technician

In contrast to the job description of the lighting technician, the core competence of a light jockey is therefore not in the technical area, but primarily concerns creativity and artistic talent. An overly technical approach can even come at the expense of artistic performance. More important are musical empathy, a sense of rhythm , a feeling for colors and knowledge of musical styles and the (unwritten) rules of the show industry or discotheque scene. However, some light jockeys are also lighting technicians and vice versa - the boundaries are often fluid here. The control and programming of laser shows, which is particularly required in large discotheques, is an art in itself, which requires appropriate training due to the safety requirements in handling lasers.

Origin of the profession


The term " light jockey" originated in the jargon of the disco scene at the end of the 1980s, when, after the lighting organs of the 1970s, the first more complex light controllers came onto the market, made possible by the introduction of DMX technology in 1986 for digital control of lighting technology were. Parallel to the implementation of this digital DMX control technology, the lighting effects were also becoming more and more differentiated. As an early milestone in light effect innovations, the development of so-called scanners , i. H. moving light emitters apply. Not least their control made the modern DMX light consoles necessary. And while in the 1970s and early 1980s the lighting in discotheques was mostly still carried out by the DJ (at the same time as the music was played), the increasing spread of increasingly complex lighting and control technologies ultimately required specialization of the operation, so that the job of light jockey was born. One of the first, best known and still widely used lighting consoles of the DMX generation is the masterpiece of the Pulsar company. Pulsar has also been running international light show competitions for a number of years to choose the best LJ. In addition to the scanners already mentioned above, so-called PAR lamps , moving heads (which are also referred to as "head -moving spotlights"), LED panels , smoke machines , stroboscopes , the traditional mirror ball , room lighting and other effects are used as a rule adjusted and coordinated to match the music (either DJ based or in concert).

Parallels to disc jockey

The symbiosis of light waves / light particles generated in a controlled manner (by the light jockey) and sound waves (produced by the disc jockey / a band) generate emotions in the recipients (disco guests or concert-goers) . According to the general opinion, the sound waves (or music) have a higher subjective weighting than the light waves with regard to the generation of emotions . A discotheque with only a light show but no music would be more difficult to imagine than a discotheque without light but with music. This results in a subliminal subordination of the light show to the music and the DJs are usually given more importance (and also higher pay) than the LJs. This also expresses the fact that the achievements of light jockeys are usually not obvious to everyone at first glance. In contrast to the easily exchangeable DJ, however, an LJ is “valuable” in many ways for a discotheque operator, because he has rare knowledge and experience and can thus provide a highly specialized service. The market for light jockeys is much smaller than the job market where thousands of DJs offer their services. Finding a really good LJ is therefore much more difficult than a good DJ. The more light consoles a light jockey can actually operate, the more versatile are its possible uses and job opportunities. When mastering a light controller, a distinction must be made between, on the one hand, simply calling up / combining ready-made programs and, on the other hand, the ability to change them live and to match the music and to be able to create these programs yourself.



Light jockey is also commonly referred to as those operators of a lighting console who are not able to create their own programs - but a LJ is usually also involved in programming lighting consoles. Because every discotheque or even every stage installation has its own equipment with light effects, which are usually changed at (un) regular intervals, so that programming adapted to such changes is necessary. For a light jockey to perform optimally, he must be particularly familiar with a certain controller programming with regard to operation or, if necessary, be able to change it himself (and this sometimes also in stressful situations). Accordingly, LJs (in contrast to DJs) are not easily interchangeable and tied to certain locations (or concert tours), because an LJ needs a relatively long time to get to know the respective controller programming or to carry out it himself. In this respect, light jockeys could also be referred to as residents based on DJs (see resident DJ ). The lighting technicians in theaters are usually not referred to with the modernist-looking term "LJs", although they have to perform quite similar tasks in terms of their work - however, the lighting control for theater performances is much more automated, not completely in real time, because the individual scenes are already known in advance.