Me, me, me.
Jack Phelan is an award-winning video-artist and technical director who specialises in integrating new visual ideas and technology into film and live performance. Most recently Jack designed and implemented complex in-camera video displays for LOLA, a feature film currently in production and developed a motion-controlled live camera system for Dead Centre’s To Be A Machine. Earlier this year he devised an imaginative live multi-camera design for Unicorn (London) Theatre’s production of Gulliver’s Travels, and was video designer on Ravens: Spassky vs Fischer at The Hampstead theatre, London.
In 2018 he was video designer on Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh’s new opera – The Second Violinist – right after working with the same creative team on Arlington, also by Enda Walsh. The Second Violinist featured a 14 metre wide LED video wall, displaying a wide variety of content from found footage, orginal live action material and complex text sequences. Jack specified the LED screen and related technology and developed, shot and / or created all of the video content for the production.
For Man of Valour, he worked with The Corn Exchange and actor Paul Reid to develop a neo-noir world of atmospherics and shadow using 3D modelling, lighting-through-projection and real-time animation. Man of Valour won the Best Design award at the 2011 Dublin Fringe Festival. In 2010 he combined wireless cameras and real-time post-production to bring the audience closer to the cast of the award-winning Freefall. Other theatrical credits include Dubliners (The Corn Exchange / Dublin Theatre Festival), World to Come (Cryptic Theatre, Glasgow), Alice in Funderland (TIPB / Abbey Theatre), The Lulu House and MacBeth (Siren Productions), Love and Money (Hatch Theatre) and Woman & Scarecrow (Siren / Abbey).
Jack was also a core member of the creative / tech team behind Playhouse, a large-scale interactive lighting installation for public expression. Produced for Dublin Theatre Festival in 2009, Playhouse turned Dublin’s Liberty Hall into an 11 storey, full-colour video display that displayed animations submitted by the public to music synchronised with Dublin City FM.
Less fancy bio
I’ve been interested in art, film & technology for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been working in roles that integrate them for fifteen years. I have a degree in Computer Science and a masters degree in Interactive Digital Systems and initially gave the whole software developer thing a go but left after a year to work as a theatre technician. I left Google for the circus. I’ll never look back :)
The experience I developed working in venues like Project Arts Centre and The Abbey Theatre in Dublin as stage hand, LX crew, sound / LX op, gallery technician etc. was an amazing additional eduation that I somehow received while being paid! Thankfully, my video and software development skills got noticed and I started getting video design roles. I realise now how important those years of working freelance on many productions and festivals were - I know theatre, film sets and other performance environments inside-out. I am excited by the possibilites of video but also keenly aware of how it can upset the balance of a production, especially if the design is ill-conceived and / or badly executed.
I often work alone, but on bigger projects it’s better to collaborate or have an assistant, and I can happily lead a team. I love the development phase of script reading and chatting with directors and other designers, and I work hard to get the most out of it. I am able to and love doing all parts of the often complex process of bringing a concept to a final piece of content. I plan, sketch, shoot, edit, animate, post-produce, colour-grade, illustrate, code, plot, rig, sync... I like learning new skills and techniques for particular projects.
I am very comfortable around cameras and related equipments. I light and operate camera for most projects I design for. I design and build camera rigs and systems and see it as part of the creative process.
What gets me excited is when I’m invited to be part of a creative team early in the process, ideally before any set or lighting design concepts have been finalised. Video design usually works best when it’s developed early enough to have a chance at informing or influencing other design decisions and vice versa.