In the performing arts and stagecraft, the Light Board Operator is the technician in charge of operating all lighting equipment for a performance, with the possible exception of the spotlights/follow spots, which are usually handled by one or more designated spotlight operators.
As the title implies, the light board operator (commonly referred to as the "Light Op" or "Board Op") is the person who operates the light board. These come in many forms, from simple to complex. For more information on light boards and their operation, see the Light Board Page.
Sometimes, though not always, the Lightboard Operator will be the same person as the Stage Manager. Also, the responsibilities of Light board Operator and Sound operator are sometimes combined into one position. In smaller productions, all three of these functions are done by one person. For productions where lighting and sound are operated by a single person, or productions where sound needs to be timed well with lighting changes, it is not unusual to use Midi Show Control (MSC) or Timecode (SMPTE).
The light board operator may in some cases also be the lighting designer for a production.
The light op has many responsibilities in theater, especially small productions. In small productions, the light op may also be the lighting designer and master electrician, and is required to create a lighting plot, and perform a complete hang and focus. In more professional environments, the light board operator is a highly specialized professional who is usually well versed in the intricacies of a wide variety of lighting instruments and control consoles, and able to easily program complex lighting cues involving multiple fixtures of both the conventional and automated (moving) varieties.
During the technical rehearsals, the light board operator usually programs the lighting console with the assistance of the lighting designer and stage manager. In situations where manual boards are being used, the light board operator will work with the lighting designer and the stage manager to practice the timing of the lighting changes.
During the performance, the light board operator is often on headset with the Stage Manager, and multiple other members of the running crew. Their responsibility lies primarily in advancing the cues under the direction of a stage manager. It is important that light board operators be familiar with the light plot, as they may be called upon to make on the fly changes to accommodate unexpected circumstances that occur during the production.