The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 24, 2013

Tim Dorman finds niche for digital arts in Ashtabula County

By DAVE DELUCA - For the Star Beacon
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — While working for one of the nation’s premiere lighting and stage technologies companies, Vincent Lighting/MainStage of Cleveland, lighting specialist Tim Dorman has plenty of long days. He often travels 700 miles a day, and 18-hour days are common. Dorman covers Ohio north of Columbus, Pennsylvania to State College, northern West Virginia, and all of Michigan.

Closer to home, he works Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra; the Terminal Tower; the ‘Q,’ home of the Cavaliers; much of Playhouse Square; Cedar Point’s Tower of Power; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Despite his grueling schedule, Dorman still finds time and energy to provide cutting-edge lighting and stage technology to Ashtabula and Lake counties through his own company, Dorman Digital Arts. A question worth asking is how? And why? It’s clearly a labor of love.

“I do a lot of this stuff because I like to,” Dorman said. “And there’s no one else around here doing it.”

Dorman said he found a niche for Dorman Digital Arts here because local people find it affordable. Many local schools and community theatres just don’t have the budgets to go with a big theatrical lighting company. He meets the need by creating his own digital technology, and the results are incredible.

“I wrote my first code for controlling lights by adapting music software 16 years ago,” he said. “Since then I’ve done some pretty amazing things adapting inexpensive software.”

Not only does he adapt and convert software, he builds stagecraft works of art out of anything, even scrap metal and old machines. The changing illuminated jukebox he created for the Ashtabula Arts Center’s production of “All Shook Up” was built from things he found in his garage. It’s impossible to tell that it is not a $5,000 item.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Dorman said. “Especially for Dorman Digital Arts. I’m forced to be creative.”

Dorman is creative, and his work ethic strong. He does only architectural exterior lighting for Vincent Lighting/MainStage, but for Dorman Digital Arts, he does everything for digital stage lighting and theatrical props. His clients include the Ashtabula Arts Center, the Fairport Dance Academy, Edgewood Senior High School and the Ashtabula County Engineer’s Bascule lift bridge, among others. He shoots and edits professional video, builds high-quality stage and lighting equipment and creates preprogrammed light shows.

“Because dousers (black out devices for projectors) were so expensive, I built my own,” he said. “I handmade the electronic marquee signs for the Ashtabula Arts Center’s production of “Hairspray” and “All Shook Up,” and did the preprogrammed light shows for the Bascule Bridge.”

In his day job for Vincent Lighting/MainStage, Dorman is studying hard for a stage certification exam through the Entertainment Technician Certification program. But in the long years he’s worked as a student journeyman for the Youngstown and Cleveland Agora stages, he’s already learned enough to impress local audiences and while pleasing directors with professional-quality technology they can afford.

Also a musician, singer and songwriter, Dorman’s work can be experienced at Dorman’s digital stage technology will be featured in Edgewood Senior High School’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

The show is 7 p.m. March 1; 2 and 7 p.m. March 2; and 2 p.m. March 3 at Edgewood Senior High, 2428 Blake Road, Ashtabula Township.