Automated fly bar operator

Automated fly bar operator article illustration


Automated fly bar operators control the movements of sets and other elements in a performance based on the artistic or creative concept, in interaction with the performers. Their work is influenced by and influences the results of other operators. Therefore, the operators work closely together with the designers, operators and performers. Automated fly bar operators prepare and supervise the setup, program the equipment and operate automated fly bar systems, rigging systems or systems for horizontal movement. Their work is based on plans, instructions and calculations. The manipulation of heavy loads close to or above performers and audience makes this a high risk occupation.

Includes rigging operators.
Includes people working in event and rental activities.

Automated fly bar operators typically perform the following duties:

  • Collaborate with the stage manager, production team, and technical staff to understand the specific requirements and cues for each production.
  • Inspect and maintain the fly system, checking ropes, pulleys, rigging equipment, and safety mechanisms for proper functionality and safety compliance.
  • Assist with the installation and setup of the fly system, including rigging and securing scenery, props, and lighting fixtures.
  • Attend technical rehearsals and performances, operating the fly system to lift, lower, and fly in/out various scenic elements as required by the production.
  • Operate the automated fly system console, following cues from the stage manager and executing precise movements and timing for each scene change.
  • Communicate with the stage manager and other crew members via headset or communication system to ensure coordinated and synchronized fly system operations.
  • Coordinate with other departments, such as lighting and audio, to ensure the smooth integration of flying scenery and equipment with other technical elements.
  • Conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the fly system, identifying and addressing any issues or malfunctions promptly.
  • Assist with the training and supervision of crew members or fly operators during load-in, load-out, and performances.
  • Adhere to safety protocols and guidelines, including proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), equipment inspections, and safe operating procedures.
  • Assist with the load-in and load-out process, ensuring the safe and efficient movement of scenery and equipment in and out of the performance space.
  • Collaborate with the stage crew and technical departments to maintain a clean and organized backstage area, ensuring smooth transitions and scene changes.
  • Participate in production meetings and rehearsals to provide input and insight regarding the fly system’s capabilities, limitations, and any special requirements.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to automated fly bar operator:

automation operator & programmer
lead automation operator
automated fly bar technician
automation programmer & operator
theatre automated rigging operator
automation programmer and operator
stage automation operator
automation operator and programmer

Working conditions

Automated fly bar operators primarily work in theaters, concert venues, or other performance spaces. They often work long hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays, to accommodate rehearsal and performance schedules. The work environment can be physically demanding, involving climbing ladders, working at heights, and operating heavy rigging equipment. Automated fly bar operators must have good spatial awareness and coordination to ensure safe and precise movements of scenery and equipment. They must be able to work well as part of a team and communicate effectively in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment.

Minimum qualifications

There are no specific educational requirements to become an automated fly bar operator, but practical experience in theater production or fly system operation is highly valued. Knowledge of rigging techniques, safety procedures, and working at heights is essential. Automated fly bar operators should have a solid understanding of theater terminology, cueing systems, and stagecraft. Familiarity with automated fly systems, computerized consoles, and related control software is necessary. They should possess strong problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work calmly under pressure. Ongoing training and staying updated on industry standards and safety practices are important in this role.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Automated fly bar operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Automated fly bar operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to automated fly bar operator.

stage machinist
followspot operator
video operator
scenery technician
video technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of automated fly bar operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of automated fly bar operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

mask maker
video designer
puppet designer
technical director
programme funding manager

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of automated fly bar operator.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of automated fly bar operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Monitor developments in technology used for design: Identify and explore recent developments in technology and materials used in the live performance industry, in order to create an up-to-date technical background for one’s personal design work.
  • Manage technical resources stock: Manage and monitor technical resources stock to ensure that production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Lead a team: Lead, supervise and motivate a group of people, in order to meet the expected results within a given timeline and with the foreseen resources in mind.
  • Provide documentation: Prepare and distribute documentation to ensure all people involved in the production receive relevant and up-to-date information.
  • Perform first fire intervention: Intervene in the case of a fire in order to extinguish the fire or limit the effects pending the arrival of emergency services according to training and procedures.
  • Update design results during rehearsals: Updating the design results based on observation of the stage image during the rehearsals, especially where the different designs and the action are integrated.
  • Plan teamwork: Plan the working schedule of a group of people in order to meet all time and quality requirements.
  • Assemble performance equipment: Set up sound, light and video equipment on stage before performance event according to specifications.
  • Advise client on technical possibilities: Recommend technical solutions, including systems, to the client within the framework of a project.
  • Assemble the rehearsal set: Put together all prepared scenic elements to prepare the rehearsal set.
  • Coach staff for running the performance: Give instructions to all team members about how they should run the performance.
  • Keep personal administration: File and organise personal administration documents comprehensively.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Assemble scenic elements on stage: Assemble scenic elements, dance and stage floors and stage cloths, based on written documents
  • Dismantle the rehearsal set: Take apart all prepared scenic elements after the rehearsal.
  • Handle scenic elements during rehearsal: Handle and assemble equipment and scenery material during rehearsal or on stage.
  • Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
  • Adapt existing designs to changed circumstances: Adapt an existing design to changed circumstances and ensure that the artistic quality of the original design is reflected in the final result.
  • Document your own practice: Documenting your own work practice for different purposes like assessment, time management, job application etc.
  • Maintain system layout for a production: Establish a workable layout for the system you manage and maintain it for the duration of a production.
  • Maintain control systems for automated equipment: Check, maintain and repair electrical and electronic elements. Check and update software of automated equipment.
  • Store performance equipment: Safely dismantle sound, light and video equipment after a performance event. Make sure the equipment is correctly stored away.
  • Follow safety procedures when working at heights: Take necessary precautions and follow a set of measures that assess, prevent and tackle risks when working at a high distance from the ground. Prevent endangering people working under these structures and avoid falls from ladders, mobile scaffolding, fixed working bridges, single person lifts etc. since they may cause fatalities or major injuries.

ISCO group and title

3435 – Other artistic and cultural associate professionals

  1. Automated fly bar operator – ESCO
Last updated on July 17, 2023

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