Ray Downing's artistic career has spanned 35 years. He founded Studio Macbeth in 1979 and the company has continued to evolve as technologies changed from manual analog to today's digital media. Studio Macbeth was one of the first companies in New York to recognize the potential of 3D computer graphics and has explored those possibilities for the past 21 years. The majority of Studio Macbeth's contributions has been in the commercial, advertising and communications arenas with a specialization in medical and scientific imaging.
In 2008 Studio Macbeth launched an initiative to establish itself in the broadcast television and entertainment industries. The motivating factor for Downing was the desire to use computer graphics for something more meaningful than cartoons, monsters and super heroes.
The first project Macbeth set its sights on was the Virtual Abraham Lincoln Project. The objective of this project was to create new footage and imagery of an historical figure in an accurate and convincing manner. The project, which was an uncommissioned Studio initiative, was purchased by the History Channel and included in the 2009 special "Stealing Lincoln's Body", which premiered on Lincoln's bicentennial. The imagery met with virtually universal critical acclaim. Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer had this to say: “The result—an uncanny, believable, realistic, living Lincoln—moving before our eyes as he must have in life, wholly imagined yet based on actual photos—took my breath away. Here is the man who lived, laughed, spoke, walked, for precious seconds practically born again.”The following year Downing was awarded an Emmy for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Graphic Design and Art Direction" for his Virtual Abraham Lincoln.
In 2009 Downing approached the History Channel with an idea for a new television special. Science, religion, and the awkward relationship which exists between the two in today's world has long interested Downing: "I want to open up a new dialog which lays bare the frailties, inaccuracies, and benefits of each of these disciplines without a recourse to name calling and false historical characterizations." The Shroud of Turin, which is in the popular culture seen as a meeting ground for science and religion, was what Macbeth chose as a focus to interest the History Channel and the public in the broader topic. This special premiered on March 30th, 2010, with the title "The Real Face of Jesus?". It received great reviews and a lot of interest from the public. It aired around the world on Christmas Day 2010. "The Real Face of Jesus?" has been nominated for several international awards: History Makers Award, Factual Entertainment Awards, and Non-Fiction Rockies Award.
Future projects for Downing and his team include other television specials. The Studio is in the process of developing a script for a science program that will use 3D computer graphics to illustrate scientific concepts and make them accessible to a wider public.