Designer Profile – Zachary Borovay

Name: Zachary Borovay

Title: Director of Media Design

Favorite Aspect of Media Design: There is something special about transforming spaces. When a guest enters a space, they bring their own preconceived notions, feelings, memories and knowledge with them and think “I know what I am looking at.” But then using media, we have the ability to completely transform the space and change their perspective and emotions regarding what they are seeing. Sometimes even just applying a color or texture is enough to create an entirely new environment. But that ability to surprise and change someone is what makes media design so magical.

What led you to media design? Like many tradespeople, I started out as a kid assisting my father who was a scenic designer and fabricator. He also taught theater at a high school on Long Island where I grew up, and had several students go on to careers on Broadway. I initially aspired to be a professional musician. I started off just as the recording industry was moving to digital, so I had a strong interest in computers as well. I worked at various design jobs while playing bass in the clubs of NYC at night. One evening, I saw The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway and I had my “light bulb moment.” I realized that the projections and video in the show were the ultimate fusion of all my interests and knowledge. Music, computers, design, theater, immersive storytelling…it was all there. I immediately flipped to the back of the Playbill to find out who created the media and approached them about apprenticing (remember, even as recently as the early 2000’s there still wasn’t any type of formal training for media design for theater as of yet). Working at that firm was an amazing experience. For three years I had a chance to work on every type of media project possible – museum installations, cruise ships, theme parks, corporate events and of course, theater. It was an incredible learning experience. Eventually I started getting calls on my own and the rest is history.

What/Who Inspires You: Its no surprise that I am influenced by music. The interplay between musicians during a performance has always fascinated me. I spent many, many, many hours practicing my bass in order to be proficient in as many different styles of music as possible, and I feel like that experience helped me find the music in everything around us. In fact, I developed a college curriculum where I break down visual media in terms of music. How to find the harmony, melody and rhythm in the content.

In terms of people, I am constantly inspired by my mentor Wendall K. Harrington, who is known in the business as the Godmother of Projection Design. She has had a huge impact on my career and my life in general and I can always turn to her for advice about anything. I am also inspired by my father. He was a master at what we called “just enough” design. I often find myself thinking “what would Dad have done.” My wife who holds our family together so I can have the opportunity to create art. And of course, my secret weapon is definitely my two kids, Leo and Solomon. They are both theater and theme park experts! Leo was even a regular on a podcast about theme parks when he was only 6 years old!

Fun Fact About Yourself that No One Knows: Many moons ago I played “Zak the sound guy” in a weekly comedy show in NYC called “It’s Judy’s Show” starring comedienne Judy Gold.

What is your favorite part about being a media designer? My favorite thing is when the lights go down, the music starts, the lights come up and you hear the audience collectively gasp or say “oooooh!” There is no greater feeling than an engaged audience that is excited about what they are seeing. That moment is priceless and is always a great reminder of why I do this!