About Me

Welcome to a blog about a film-maker, one who could be described as a story teller with an experimental approach to technology.

Hello, my name is James Tomkinson and this is my microscopic slice of the world wide web which should give an idea of what I do.

I think we can agree that people make films in a number of different genres. Mine is drama, a human story of either fact or fiction recreated in a gripping performance. Although that isn’t a dictionary definition it is what I write and capture either ‘in camera’ or on-stage.

An interest in building things has stayed with me throughout my younger years. I have to admit my DIY skills could use a little polishing yet that didn’t stop me from designing and refining the designs for my stereoscopic 3D rig since 2010 the results of which are on my YouTube channel.

Feel free to have a look around.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Improbable Fiction


The 39 steps had over one-hundred lighting cues. Improbable Fiction have over three-hundred. Perhaps you can see where this is going.

I don’t believe I have ever been as deeply involved in a production as this one. I was initially to be the lighting designer and technician for this show which I did, but in the end I; took on the role of assistant director, gave up a day of my university education to keep the show on track, learned an entirely new type of digital lighting interface and got involved with other areas of the production on a minor level, such as props.

I’ll start by recounting what I had to do for the lighting aspect of the production.

First of all the venue we perform in had installed a new DMX lighting system. This was new to me as I had been trained on an analogue system at school. Now although the original lighting system was still in place I felt an FX demanding show like Improbable Fiction could benefit from the versatility of a DMX LED based system. So I had to learn how to use this and purchase the relevant hardware required to interface a computer with this DMX system.

All in all with five different time/scene settings, lighting, spot lights and suggestions of ‘off stage spaces’ through lighting, there were as I’ve mentioned, over three-hundred lighting cues which is by far the most I’ve ever attempted for any production. However this was just the beginning of the challenges for this show.

On the day of out set-up we discovered that there would be three other local organisations that wanted to use the venue at the same time as us. To start with a dancing group wanted to use the venue for their performance thus meaning that we couldn’t set up our lighting properly until the first night of the production, which did render our technical rehearsal a bit of a frantic nonsense.

We also discovered that a local primary school would be in during the week and that they would want to set up lighting for their nativity play. In the end the only way I could prevent this from disrupting our show was to take a day off of university to stay at the venue all day to ensure that all of the groups got the lighting they required in the morning and then spend the afternoon re-configuring the entire lighting setup in time for the first performance, that evening.

Thankfully I had the cooperation of all of most of the groups involved and more importantly I had the support of several of my fellow members of the amateur dramatics group who gave up their afternoon to help and support the group, the others involved and me as well.

Now back to that new DMX system, the keyword in that sentence being “new”. Three of the DMX fixtures were already broken in the few months since it had been installed. These had to be bypassed to allow the rest of the system to function properly.

What a frantic setup!

A real sign that group appreciated these efforts came in addition to the kindness and support given by so many of the people who were there. I was awarded another society award. This was awarded by the cast to the back-stage crew member “who had gone above and beyond the call of duty”. The lady who gave it to me said that as far as she knew no group member have ever received both of the society awards consecutively. The support of the society and the appreciation shown is something I shall never forget.

No comments:

Post a Comment