34 PL & P
34 PL & P
By Matt Bauer
Growing up on a farm in rural Binbrook , ON ( southeast of Hamilton ), Aaron McCormack ’ s passion for television and lighting was ignited when he fell in love with the video camera as a student at Bellmoore Elementary School , yet it was a family event that set him on his trajectory to his current role as an editor with an emphasis on lighting at Hamilton ’ s venerable CHCH TV .
“ I remember the first time I used a video camera and that was at my aunt ’ s wedding ,” he tells Professional Lighting & Production . “ My mom was the videographer . And she ’ s like , ‘ Can you take a video of her wedding ?’ So I got a hold of it during the reception and started taking video and fell in love with it back then . I was probably five or six years old .”
McCormack would pursue his fascination into high school when he turned his grandmother ’ s living room into a mini-television studio . “ My mom had this old tube camera and I had a little CCD camera and I plugged them both into a VCR and the VCR acted as a switcher .”
Studying Television Broadcasting at Mohawk College , McCormack says he received comprehensive hands-on experience and while his first job in the broadcasting field as a tape operator for TSN wasn ’ t a good fit (“ I know nothing about sports ,” he confesses ), he joined CHCH as a teleprompter operator in September of 2009 .
“ For the first five years , [ I learned ] Studio Camera , ENG Camera , editing , audio , technical directing , microwave truck , and I occasionally took the odd freelance gig as a Technical Director ,” he explains . “ I guess I was kind of looking for a new challenge .”
It was a challenge that would be heralded by the wailing of an iconic guitarist . “ At the time CHCH was renting their big studio out to outside clients . And I didn ’ t know anything about that world . So I was walking downstairs , and the door opens to this big studio . And I hear Jimi Hendrix blasting as loud as possible through this door . And I said to myself , well , obviously I ’ m going in there . So I walked in . And there was [ the late-freelance lighting director ] Brad Cauthard sitting there on the chair with his light meter on the set .”
“ Brad and I connected when he told me that he only communicated through fax ,” remembers McCormack . “ He even submitted all of his invoices with an antique typewriter . After I learned this he became my hero .”
An immediate friendship and mentorship developed with Cauthard as he took McCormack under his wing , teaching him the tricks of the trade .
“ He showed me all the key fixtures and back lights and I think he saw me as an apprentice , and someone that could potentially fill in for him if he had more than one gig going on ,” says McCormack . “ It worked out well for both of us . Because I think lighting
is one of those things where it ’ s hard to find someone who A ) gets it and B ) is into it . So he started training me on the set of 700 Club Canada . That gave me some experience and some confidence , and really allowed me to sort of understand how lighting worked .”
A recent feather in McCormack ’ s cap was his role as Lighting Designer for CHCH ’ s new studio at 4 Innovation Dr . in suburban Hamilton .
As a self-described “ jack of all trades ,” McCormack says that a typical day of involves editing and camera work , yet lighting remains a key focus . “ Ever since we moved into this new space , I ’ ve been doing a lot of lighting , because that studio requires [ it ].” Outside of work , McCormack enjoys recording songs for friends as well as playing guitar and bass . Having built a darkroom in his basement , McCormack does a lot of film developing and film photography , plus digital . “ I ’ ve done a lot of professional photography as well ,” he says . “ But photography is one of those things that I don ’ t really want to do professionally . I ’ d rather keep that as a hobby . I find that a lot of the time I ’ ll develop a hobby , and I ’ ll be like , ‘ Oh , I can make money at this .’ Meanwhile , it cost me more money to do than what I made on it .”
Matt Bauer is the Editor of Professional Lighting & Production . He can be reached at mbauer @ nwcworld . com .