30 Under 30: J.T. Rooney, Screen Producer

In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

Since graduation, J.T. Rooney has been making waves with every step. Fresh out of college, he worked with New World Symphony, setting up video for performances in various venues, including New World Center, before he moved on to Lightborne where he worked with artists such as Katy Perry, Billy Joel, Kanye West, Deadmau5, and more. Now as a screen producer for Silent Partners Studio, Rooney is currently working on Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour and Harry Styles 2018 tour. 

Name: J.T. Rooney

Age: 29

City, State of residence: Los Angeles, CA 

Position/title: Screen Producer 

Employer (if not freelance): Silent Partners Studio

Current project(s): Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour, Harry Styles Live On Tour 2018

Most notable achievements: Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show with Katy Perry and this year's Super Bowl LII Halftime Show with Justin Timberlake stand out as special moments. The combination of the large-scale audience and the rapid setup during the show creates a pretty adrenaline-filled experience. 

Katy Perry's Witness: The Tour

How I got into this industry: My first job out of college was at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL. The amazing, Frank Gehry-designed New World Center is a performance venue with immersive projection mapping in the concert hall, a giant projection surface outside the building for live simulcasts, and overall, was a technical playground. The small video team at NWS was responsible for all technical aspects of putting on shows (my first few days involved changing out a dozen lamps on 30K Christie Boxer projectors), as well as for the creative programming, creative content creation and animation, and broadcast camera programming and production. It really was a great training ground for many aspects of the industry, and I'm extremely thankful for my time there. 

Influences: Over the years, I've been lucky to work with a lot of different designers, directors, and producers that have all given me training, advice, and experience. 

Currently, at Silent Partners Studio, working alongside Gabriel Coutu-Dumont has been creatively educational every day, and I'm constantly trying to pick up tips from his years of experience in creative direction and screen producing in live entertainment and shows. 

My career started with and was guided by Ben Nicholson, originally at Lightborne in Cincinnati, OH and then through Empirical Studio. He put pretty big trust in me and put me directly in front of artists from day one, allowing me to rapidly advance.

Other influences in the industry have been Baz Halpin, Nick Whitehouse, Willie Williams, Laura Frank, Ash Nehru, Michael Jung, Chuck Davis, and many others over the years.

Super Bowl LII Halftime Show featuring Justin Timberlake

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Don’t worry, we’ll just fix it when we get there!”

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “Be a good person, and do good work. The rest will come easy.”

My favorite thing about the production industry: The industry is ever-changing and evolving, yet somehow stills feels like a tight-knit family and circle of friends. It's an especially fun feeling to see friends and other peers grow alongside you and go off to do awesome things.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: I've been a big proponent of Notch and generative media tools on a large pop tour content scale. Finding ways to add meaningful interactivity and new things to shows is exciting. I'm also just trying to push for ways to not wait days for content to render.

Plans for the future: Currently, we're hard at work developing Silent Partners Studio in LA as well as in Montreal and pushing the borders of video content creation. We’re trying to help the industry move forward by finding the next generation of clever designers and tech-savvy folk and be on the forefront of what is possible. 

Other interests/side gigs: Exploring and adventuring in Los Angeles whenever I'm home and traveling for the sake of travel as opposed to work. 

Website if applicable: www.silentpartnersstudio.com

Check out Live Design/LDI's other 30 Under 30: