Director of Engineering
Adrian joined Carallon, Brompton’s founding company, as Senior Developer in 2015. He moved his way up to Engineering Manager before officially joining Brompton as Director of Engineering in 2021.
Previously, Adrian worked in R&D with DNEG, first with the pipeline team tasked with the colossal role of managing the enormous amount of data generated during filming, and then moving into the rendering side of things. “I really enjoyed being part of the process of filmmaking; taking it from start to finish and seeing what was being built with the tools we created,” recalls Adrian.
In some way, film has always been in Adrian’s blood; his dad was a film editor and his grandfather a cinematographer. Starting out, Adrian studied physics at Imperial College but was really captivated by companies doing visual effects and animation. This was a way of combining his interest in programming with his love for the arts. Adrian has been involved in theatre for many years, not only loaning his technical knowledge and skills, but often acting as sound and video designer and operator. When he came across Carallon – a company not only doing the technology development he was interested in, but that was also doing it for theatre and live events – he knew he’d found an amazing fit. “I didn’t even realise at the time how good a fit it was going to be,” says Adrian.
As a developer and leader, Adrian’s role is to steer Brompton’s pivotal development projects, which over the last year alone has included two new breakthrough technologies: the Tessera G1 receiver card and TrueLight®. A career highlight was the launch of the SX40 LED processor in 2018, which he says was an immense learning experience and incredibly rewarding. The SX40 was recently recognised with an Engineering, Science & Technology Emmy, awarded to the core members of the development team, including Chris Deighton, Richard Mead, Evangelos Apostolopoulos and Adrian. He says winning an Emmy is an amazing recognition of the influence the SX40 has had in driving the revolutionary adoption of virtual production by the film and TV industry, adding, “The SX40 has won many awards and we value all of them, but winning an award with the prestige and general public recognition of an Emmy really brings home the scale of the impact it’s had on the industry. It’s a very special feeling and a testament to the hard work put in by everyone at Brompton.”
It’s not the first time Adrian’s been caught in the Hollywood spotlight. At DNEG he worked on the film Ex Machina, which won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay. The project was foundational to Adrian’s belief that no matter how amazing the visual effects are, they’re really there to help tell a story. Of Ex Machina he says, “The story is still a really great story without the visual effects”. It’s the same thing he looks for in virtual production: “The aim is that as a viewer you don’t really want to know that it’s happened at all. You don’t know that the actors weren’t there in that environment. And ideally you don’t know straight out of the camera.”
As with his past visual effects experience, Adrian also continues to draw from his altruistic work in theatre, which has long been his beta testing ground for new Brompton features. He once worked on a production of Frankenstein where the opening consisted of “a couple of pages of stage direction with no dialogue at all”. To represent the iconic lighting that sparks life in Frankenstein’s monster, Brompton-driven LED strip fixtures were used to allow the electricity to flow over the heads of the audience. For Adrian it was an amazing (and daunting) opportunity to devise everything the audience sees and hears from scratch. He surmises, “It’s a somewhat unique position I have, to be able to deploy LED video technology in areas where it’s not common yet, and I really relish being able to bring new creative elements and seeing the ideas they unlock.”
Being part of the creative process means Adrian has the mind of the user, and he applies this to his thinking as an engineer. He shares, “When I hear an instrument or a sound, I have an intuitive grasp of what I want it to be like. The whole point of the technology, once you’ve spent that time putting it together, is to get out of the way so you can make that creative choice. And I think it’s very much the same with our video systems. You build your LED screen and you get it technically perfect, and at that point, the screen is no longer in the way. That’s got to be the goal of all our virtual production technology. You just want people to have that freedom to be creative.”
Since Brompton’s expansion into virtual production, the engineering team have “adopted an almost fanatical approach to on-camera performance” says Adrian. But he explains that a lot of the ideas they have for making systems better and improving usability can translate across markets and applications. “That’s often a sign of a good feature,” he says, concluding, “Ultimately, having the best quality image is applicable everywhere.”