Aaron McCormack

Aaron McCormack

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

“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

“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

A recent feather in McCormack’s cap was his role as Lighting
Designer for CHCH’s new studio at 4 Innovation Dr. in suburban

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 a freelance writer based in Niagara

He can be reached at mattbauer1975@gmail.com

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