John Bowring ACS

Inducted into ACS Hall of Fame – 2005

Starting as an assistant projectionist for Village Drive-ins, then as a news and current affairs cine-cameraman/editor for GTV9 and later Willesee at Channel 7 in Melbourne, Bowring has won over 30 awards for his cinematography. In those early years, Bowring both shot and edited TV comedy programs including the Paul Hogan Show, Ernie Sigley, Graham Kennedy and Don Lane. For the BBC, he photographed and directed the Clive James Postcard series specials on New York, Cairo, Sydney and for the UK’s Carleton TV, “Postcard from Bombay,” “Hong Kong” and “Melbourne”. In 1996 he shot and was the telecine colourist for “ELLE” – Australia’s top rating TV documentary that year and won an ACS Gold award for cinematography. Glenn Ridge’s series on the Year of the Outback also won several awards for cinematography in 2003/4.

Away from the pointy end of a camera – Bowring started the company Lemac in 1975 on the advice of GTV Channel 9 – originally to supply his services and equipment for Nine’s production department, outside of his on staff news commitments. Later – after leaving GTV, the Lemac service would expand to the film and television industry generally – sharing the techniques and equipment Bowring developed or discovered while working as a cinematographer/editor. The Lemac equipment grew from a Sun Gun battery light, an old secondhand 16mm Auricon Pro 600 sound camera and a clockwork Bolex- to a whole rentals and sales inventory.

As a cinematographer/imaging technologist, Bowring is always looking for new ways to shoot pictures, and re-working old tried and proven ways too – like 3perf 35 with AatonCode. He’s is in demand by many organizations and equipment manufacturers for technology advice, training and help on camera, lens and system design. But he cannot give up his addiction to the camera – as a cinematographer,

John Bowring was accredited ‘ACS’ by the Australian Cinematographers Society in 1990, made a life member of the society in 1998, inducted in to the society’s Cinematographer’s Hall of Fame in 2005, and is a member of SMPTE and the BKSTS.

The original Auricon Pro-600 sound camera is now a part of Lemac’s equipment museum in Melbourne – but on standby – ready to shoot at a moments notice! Over the course of many years John Bowring has made, and continues to make, a substantial and much valued contribution to the Society and its members.

At the age of 12, John Bowring decided that he wanted to be a cameraman for Cinesound Newsreel but unfortunately, the closest he got was projecting their last newsreel! So after years of following around news crews in school holidays and weekends, John started his full time employment at Village Theatres and then at GTV9 News in Melbourne. At GTV9 as a film editor /sometimes sound recordist and cameraman, he covered many news events. Poached from Nine to shoot Michael Willesee’s current affairs show on Channel 7 – Willesee at Seven. He also shot segments for variety and comedy programs, including the Paul Hogan Show. For the BBC, he photographed and directed the Clive James Postcard Series Specials on New York, Cairo, Sydney and for the UK’s Carleton TV, “Postcard from Bombay,” then Hong Kong.

In the midst of all this, John started a company called Lemac in 1975, on the suggestion of GTV9, to supply his services to them. Later the techniques and equipment he developed as a working cinematographer would lead to Lemac being a supplier of film equipment and production services for other broadcasters and filmmakers. Lemac today, which John ran jointly with his wife Sue Greenshields since 1982, is based in Sydney Brisbane and Melbourne, providing state of the art film and digital equipment for rental or sale, as well as post production facilities and creative services.

Among the technical developments that John has introduced and developed over the years has been the stretch frame shooting technique – which won him awards for cinematography and technical innovation and film negative and interpositive transfer to tape techniques. In the nineties he led the way with Super 16 & 16×9 origination for television, timecode on film instant sound syncing system, MultiCam film systems on pedestals (Murder Call) reverse emulsion film techniques, and the ‘eyeline’ device for shooting children.
In 1999 the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations approached John to shoot and post produce their HD Presentation to the Federal Government that lead to the introduction of HDTV in Australia. Lemac, with John’s leadership, introduced Australia’s first HD capture rental equipment in 2000 and for a long time was Australia’s only HD rental equipment supplier, supporting and training DOPs in this new medium.

Later, Lemac was instrumental in pushing 4K digital acquisitions in the country as an early adopter of the Red Digital Cinema camera system. On “Knowing”, John was hands-on, filming the early camera tests that led to production shooting on RED with Lemac equipment and support. In May 2010 John made history again shooting Australia’s first 3D free-to-air television for Channel 9, with David Gyngell’s welcoming the viewers to 3D television in a throwback to Bruce Gyngell who had welcomed viewers to television so many years earlier. As a cinematographer / imaging technologist, John spoke regularly to organizations such as, SMPTE, the ACS, VCA, AFTRS, Open Channel, Swinburne School of Film & Television, Deakin, SPAA, RMIT Media, Australian Documentary Conference, North Sydney TAFE, SSAV, KODAK, the NINE and SEVEN networks and FOXTEL on technology and training. International equipment manufacturers such as AATON, DEDO, TRANSVIDEO, ZEISS, PANASONIC, and CENTURY – consulted him on camera and lens design.

Swinburne University of Technology has created The John Bowring (ACS) Memorial Scholarship in his honour and in recognition of his contribution to the Film and Television program. It was awarded for the first time in 2012 to a first year student from a low-SES, rural or regional, indigenous or non- English speaking background. Commercially as a cinematographer, John filmed nearly all of Nine Networks image and ID campaigns, many of the Seven Network’s over the last twenty plus years and for Foxtel and the Premier Media Group. At the ACS National Executive meeting held in Adelaide on May 1 2011 it was decided unanimously that at all future ACS Awards presentations, the category TV STATION BREAKS & PROMOS would be named in honour of John. To that end, this is named the “John Bowring ACS TV Station Breaks & Promos Award”. In light of the many station promos John photographed, the ACS felt this particular category, which John has won in the past, was an ideal one to carry his name into the future.

John Bowring was accredited ACS by the Australian Cinematographers Society in 1991, made a Life Member in 1999, and inducted in to the ACS Hall of Fame in 2005. John passed away suddenly on April 16, in Hong Kong on his way back to his beloved Australia, after a successful NAB in Vegas. Over 1500 people attended the memorial service for John on Tuesday May 3rd 2011 at the Docklands Studios Melbourne.

John will be long remembered for his passion, incredible knowledge, talent and above all his generosity to the industry he absolutely loved.