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Academy Award-winning lighting expert, gaffer tape inventor Ross Lowell dead at 92

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 2/24/2019 STORM GIFFORD
a man wearing glasses © Obtained by New York Daily News

Innovative filmmaker and inventor Ross Lowell, best known for inventing gaffer tape, has died at the age of 92.

The announcement was made by his wife, Marilyn Shapiro Lowell.

Lowell, who worked on hundreds of documentaries, short films and TV commercials during his illustrious career, won an Academy Award in 1980 for technical achievement for his compact lighting system, reported the website DIY Photography. That same year, his short film “Oh Brother, My Brother” was a nominee in the Best Live Action Short Film category.

Lowell revolutionized Hollywood with his inventions of a quick-clamp lighting mount system and gaffer tape.

During the late 1950s, Lowell had been hired to create an inconspicuous lighting system that could remain in place for several weeks. He conceived a swiveling ball-and-clamp system for mounting lights and reworked duct tape. He combined the adhesive with a silver fabric backing that could defy heat and stay in place for weeks without leaving a sticky residue once removed. The result was called gaffer tape, invented in 1959.

In 1992, he authored a book about lighting called “Matters of Light & Depth,” and in 2007, he and two of his sons, Josh and Brett Lowell, won an Emmy Award for the mountain climbing documentary “King Lines,” which was honored for Outstanding Camera Work.

In addition to his awards and films, Lowell registered over 25 patents during his lifetime.


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