Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Spotlight: Randall P. Dark


MediaTech Ventures Director, Paul O'Brien caught up with HD Pioneer, Randall Dark at a coffee shop in Austin, Texas. They talked about the longevity of Dark's storied career. Below is his interview found here.
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If you’re old enough to have used a cassette tape, I’d be surprised if that photo isn’t imprinted on the back of your brain as it was one of the iconic images of the 1980’s. That anonymous man in the chair, who he was and what we were experiencing in that poster – music, speakers, print, early MusicTech – in many way exemplify, by inspiring, what you might think of as a MediaTech professional.
I sat in a local coffee shop in Austin, TX, months ago, and shared passions and possibilities with a now clean(er) cut and gray Randall Dark.

In meeting for the first time, I had no idea that the poster from my youth, a poster that got me excited about music and audio, had Dark so early in my life as to influence my path toward media innovation. He’s an exciting personality, visionary, passionate, and just what you’d expect from a Canadian: a person you just enjoy spending time with.

WRITER, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER
Today, Dark is a director, producer, writer, cinematographer, and media consultant who has not only embraced new camera technology, he is considered by the television industry to be one of the guiding thought leaders and adopters of the HD medium. Since seeing HD first in 1986, if you can believe, he has gone on to capture on the screen Julie Andrews, Bill Clinton, Willie Nelson, Harry Connick Jr., Leonard Nimoy, Lyle Lovett, Sting, and Stephen Hawking.

“Because high definition was so real and so vivid — the colours were perfect, you could see the tiniest detail — I believed that if you had a 65-inch TV in your home and you watched a documentary about starving children, it would touch your heart in a way that you would have to react,” says Dark. “I believed it was a technology that would have an impact on people and change their hearts. I honestly believed it would change humanity.”

Evidence of our vision that media cross pollinates throughout music, video, and other formats, Dark, found himself from Canada (he’s a native of Saskatchewan) to New York City, working out of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where he worked with bands like Aerosmith and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He helped build one of the first multi-camera, high-definition production trucks and shot Victor-Victoria on Broadway with Julie Andrews. We all know the significance of the media in sports and Dark was behind the camera for Super Bowl XXX and NBA All-Star games as well as the first to broadcast in high definition a live sporting event to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. as the American Public looked to Congress and the FCC to determine if high definition was a viable new TV standard for the United States.

In 2013, he found himself collaborating with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britten and Lyle Lovett as one of the executive producers of Angels Sing and of watching Nelson and Connick Jr. create a new song, he noted, “I got to watch these two geniuses at work. My life is so amazing. I have never been star-struck working with celebrities because people are just people. I think what happens is so many big name stars get worshipped and people go ‘I’m a big fan’ and it gets tiring after a while. I think, because I am an expert in my field I can sit down and say, ‘Hey, I know nothing about what you do but do you want to know about high definition?'”

I could relate. This is the guy who sat the chair of a poster on my wall for years when I was growing up. Yeah, I’m that much of a media geek that I had a Maxell cassette tape poster on my wall. I was a little star-struck, here I was having coffee with an inspiration of mine that I’d not even realized until I met him. Dark, pointedly, wasn’t in that original chair; his influence is such that he recreated it with Maxell.

Dark is a media personality that we want to spotlight not just because of my personal connection with him. He is known for taking the experimental approach that we want to challenge everyone to embrace. He’s long been digital technologies and as we all wonder at HOW we can afford quality media production, whether we’re advertising, producing a film, or in need of a music video, he just does it. For his 2012 documentary Seadrift vs The Big Guy, he used an Apple iPhone and a 4K camera. Whatever it takes.

Truly, embracing all forms of media. If you’re as inspired to write as am I, you can appreciate that bubbling in the back of such a brain are stories to be told, and not always through video. Dark wrote a children’s play some 25 years ago, Tale of Sasquatch, and found it later published by the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Today, it’s an animated mobile app, available now [android | apple].

What brought us together to share chairs in a coffee shop was our alignment on so many ideas for the future of media and it’s therein that I’d like to encourage you to get to know Randall Dark. Thinking globally and in the sense of how networking and education will drive forward our media economy, he co-founded the Macao China International Digital Camera Festival and serves today as its artistic director. He, as do we, works with companies and non-profit organizations on how to use technology to grow their businesses.

To see articles written about Randall and the projects he has been involved in, check out his blog. Curious about listening to more of his story? Join him on Marsha Casper Cook’s podcast World Of Ink Network as they explore even writing books beyond producing movies.

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