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 camera systems and custom apps for Dead Centre’s To Be A Machine. Recent filming, post-production and animation work include Hamlet for Bristol Old Vic Theatre, and Portia Coghlan at The Abbey Theatre.
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 animation, 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’ve never looked 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 solo, 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. I dabble in game development and recently, I’ve started to introduce more game-tech / real-time elements into live productions.
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.