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UT theater designer lights up NBA All-Star Game events

If we’ve learned anything from the blackout at Super Bowl XLVII, it’s that lighting has a critical role in live entertainment.

Going into the NBA All-Star Game, a University of Toledo lighting designer has accepted the responsibility as part of the team in charge of lighting the stage for half-time performer Sting, the pre-game performance by Cirque du Soleil and other All-Star Game events.

Stephen Sakowski, assistant professor of lighting and sound design in the UT Department of Theatre and Film, will be working closely this week with Otis Howard, an Emmy Award-winning lighting designer who runs Otis Howard Design, Inc., a company that has lit the stage for TV shows on BET, VH1, MTV, HSN and more. Howard has been in charge of lighting the NBA All-Star events for the last five years.

“It’s nice to be a part of something on this scale because it’s reaffirming that I’ve made good choices along the way,” Sakowski said.

Sakowski first began working alongside Howard during an internship in college. After graduating from Otterbein University, he freelanced in New York City for several years before getting his master’s degree from UC San Diego. He joined UT’s faculty last year.

“Teaching lighting design, there’s theories and approaches, but so much of this job is real-world experience and application,” Sakowski said.

Doing these projects provides a sense of accreditation for his students, Sakowski said, because they can see his experience in the field and learn about the work he does. He also is exposed to some of the best technologies and techniques in the industry, which he can then teach his students about, Sakowski said.

Sakowski routinely does production coordinating remotely for Otis Howard Design working on technical drawings and lighting plots, but for this large national event Sakowski will travel to Toronto to ensure it goes off without a hitch.

NBA All-Star events will take place Thursday, Feb. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 14 and the NBA All-Star game tips off at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14 at Air Canada Centre. It will be televised on TNT.

Click here to download the photo of Sakowski.


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