The Hughes Project
Screens Producer & Content Creator
2020 – 2021
CCM and Hughes High School have teamed together to bring one of Cincinnati’s historic buildings to life with projection mapping.
7 CCM Technical Design & Production students and 16 Hughes High School students to design and implement a 30 minute showcase of their artwork. The themes and design direction CCM and HHS have chosen is to explore is the building and schools history and cultural connection to the community in an Afrofuturism style.
How were you brought on to this project? What are your particular skills or interests for working on a project like this?
It was the beginning of my junior year at CCM, My lighting professor, Sharon Huizinga, brought up that there was possibility of a project to projection map Hughes High School to me and my friend/collaborator Jason Bowden. We were extremely excited by the idea and immediately agreed to to be a part of it if the project was approved. This project couldn’t have come at a better time for us. Earlier that year we had just began to dip our feet into the vastness of the video community, taking extra classes at Miami U in media design with Ben Nicholson, Lecture series’ with various industry professionals like Matthew Ragan and Kevin Lawson, and collaborating with Lightborne in Cincinnati to create projection installations downtown. It just came to a point where I knew that projection mapping was something I knew I wanted to make a part of my career, And this was the opportunity to put our skills to the test.
Would you consider your responsibilities on this project creative focused, engineering focused or an apsect of the production team?
My role did bridge between different areas, partly because there were only a few students that had the most basic projection/video experience and interest. So in pre production, I worked on the concept of the show and putting together mood boards and decks to share with Sharon, Lighting, as well as Hughes faculty to make sure we were heading in the right direction. At the same time Jason and I were figuring out how one even maps a building with disguise, how we were going to build and deliver content, and then more enginnering things like what projectors and lenses were possible with our budget, and how projectors were going to be housed in an outside area with freezing temperatures at night…
This whole thing was an extremely unconventional project by CCM standards. Sharon influenced CCM to go under a radical shift over COVID-19, For the 2020-2021 school year, she helped acquire a disguise server, watchout server, various desktops for touchdesigner and notch, and multiple projectors. So that year was kind of and exploratory bootcamp of just seeing what we could do with these tools, collaborating with small groups of actors, dancers, singers, and technical directors to try out short concepts that would be filmed for a series called IDEA LAB. Before this, CCM was not a school providing any training in video technology, and our equipment was strictly used for internal productions. So in the span of a school year, we went from seeing a disguise server for the first time, to working on a professional school project that would take our equipment out of the theatre, to create the first ever CCM projection and lighting production on the largest canvas yet.
How did you pull this project back from the brink of certain disaster?
We had a few scares for sure when putting this project all together. The vendor for our projectors were supportive enough to bring the projector we would be using for the show, to test how bright it was on the building, and also how the materials of the building took light. I think this was in February in Ohio so it was really,,, really cold. We had been briefed on how temperatures should be maintained with laser projectors, but something Jason and I never even considered before was that our HDMI and computer ports could get too cold. So in the process of testing initial content and colors on the building, The connection started flickering and the projector stopped responding to my computer, we tried warming up everything best we could but it just would not work. We weren’t able to get too far, but thankfully our vendor was kind enough to reschedule so we could get a complete mapping and finish our color and content tests. Learned that doing these shows outside in cold weather conditions added a whole layer of potential problems and things we had to be thinking about to make sure this project wasn’t a disaster…
Ian will be graduating this spring with a BFA in lighting design & technology from CCM at the University of Cincinnati. Over his 4 years at CCM, Ian has shifted his focus to content creation and projection/media design for theatre, opera, dance, and television/virtual production. Some of his credits at CCM include: Screens producer & content creator for The Hughes Project, lighting & projection designer for CCM’s Fall Dance. Ian has also had the opportunity to Intern with XR Studios, where he learned XR workflows, how to build content for virtual production, and assist the marketing team in creating content and developing new campaign looks.