Cinequipwhite's Blog

Spotlight on: James Downey by cinequipwhite
August 18, 2009, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

James Downey is an experienced Lighting director from Toronto. He has worked on numerous projects in the Toronto scene, with some of the more recent being ET Canada’s new Studio, the 2008 Gemini’s and Genies, and the most recent “The Score” studio install. This article comes from Chris Alexander at Rosco, with many thanks!

~Jonathan Stainton
CinequipWhite Inc.

James Downey – Lighting Director
Chris Alexander – 2009 – Rosco Newsletter

Downey I went to an SMPTE conference in my final year at Conestoga College and met Adrian Goldberg who was giving a lighting demonstration. I got his card and hounded him until he put me in touch with a company called Electric Images. My first job was with them as head of their lighting department even though I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. I worked with a bunch of different lighting directors; Tom Swartz, Adrian Goldberg, Frank Merino and Ken Sala as their lighting assists.

My first big colour lighting show was a kids’ program with Tom Swartz. I remember he would send us up between the shows to change the gels and gobos to get different looks with the same lighting. This was all before moving lights. When Electric Images went out of business I started doing individual projects, a day here a day there, and it slowly blossomed. Then suddenly I got my own show and it went from there.

I always carry my “Rosco Kit”, as I call it. I have over 800 Rosco Gobos and at least 500 sheets of Rosco gel colours. I have a package truck as well with two rolls of pretty much everything from colour correction, diffusions, and reflectors to ND’s. I’m definitely a heavy Rosco user. I own about 12 Rosco Gobo Rotators and use them regularly as well as the Image Pro projectors.

I find having my “Rosco Kit” with me helps when deciding the colour scheme for shows. I do a Franklin Templeton show for Business News Network and have three Franklin Templeton people sitting with me going through combinations of colour for their Fund Group. Having the kit with all the colours right there in large pieces makes it easier to decide with them which ones work best.

I use gobos a lot in my lighting, but rarely in focus unless it’s a logo. For Franklin Templeton I use three different gobos to light the sign with his head on it. This combination of a different gobo for three lights on one sign gives me a great breakup of light and effect. I use gobos as my paints! I heard there’s going to be a new iPhone app that will have the Rosco Gobo catalogue on it which is great; I can carry it around and do quick searches for the type of gobo I’m looking for. In my kit I usually carry a minimum of 8 copies of each gobo and as many as 20 of the standard/popular ones. Gobos are definitely a palatte I like to work with.

In 2002-2003 I designed the world exclusive Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, which broke attendance records at the ROM. We used over a dozen Rosco double gobo rotators in the forest set along with Rosco’s Delta 3000 smoke machines to recreate the Fangorn forest scene. In another recreation of the dead marshes set, we used eight Rosco Image Pro’s with custom made water gobos to help set the mood. In all we used over 140 Rosco gobos, 20 Rosco double gobo rotators, 12 Rosco Image Pros, and three Delta 3000 smoke machines.

I did The Score studio installation in 2008 from the ground up. It was my first opportunity to specify RoscoView for windows. We had windows approximately 50 feet wide by 12 feet high to cover. I wasn’t aware of RoscoView when we first started the project and I was at odds as to what to do with these windows. They were in a concave arrangement and I didn’t want to deal with rollers in that situation. It was a “eureka” moment when I heard about RoscoView. We did a test with The Scores’ Creative Director Sam Nasrawi and it did everything it was supposed to do. Sam gave the go ahead. We had a learning curve with the installation, but now it’s in and everything is working well. They love it.

In 2008 I was also doing the installations for Global Studios’ new newsrooms and the new Global National set, as well. Each of those would be outfitted with a full Rosco Kit of diffusions, ND’s, Cinefoil and anything else I felt they needed.

I have been a Rosco user from day one. I like the fact that I can have a Rosco rep come out and show me things when it’s convenient for me. That Rosco has a face to go with the name is important. I was shown the “wet test” between Rosco 3026 Tough White Diffusion and LEE 216 which shows that when exposed to water the LEE 216 diffusion became translucent, the Tough White didn’t. I work outdoors a lot and maintaining the integrity of your diffusion in all kinds of weather, particularly with large sources, is important.

I own much of my own gear but deal with Angelo Colussi at P.S. Production Services for generators and any extra film gear I need, David James at PRG for extra rock n’ roll moving head gear and also Louise Nardella at the Source Shop for a variety of things. What they bring to the table is “my emergency is their emergency”, which is great! I remember one time my light meter battery died and Louise jumped in a cab and brought me a replacement battery because I was in such a panic. It’s customer service like that I give to my clients. I don’t expect it, but I sure do appreciate it when I get it.


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