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InfoComm 2012 Keynote Speaker discusses Cirque’s cutting-edge AV

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Name: Tony Ricotta
Title: Company Manager
Company: Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis
Details: Ricotta will present InfoComm 2012’s opening keynote address on Tuesday, June 12 from 4 to 5:30 pm, at the Las Vegas Hotel: Paradise North.

While InfoComm 2012 is packed with the usual slate of exciting events, be it for education or networking, the quintessential event for AV professionals has a particularly enticing treat with its opening keynote address presented by Cirque du Soleil Viva Elvis company manager Tony Ricotta.

In an interview with SCN, Ricotta confessed that he was still in the process of writing the keynote, but he hashed out some of the ideas he plans to convey.

“I want to try to get the message across that Cirque and other theatrical companies are using this technology that up until recently has been outside,” initially in the form of arena billboards and scoreboards, he noted. “Somewhere it came down in size and price that it became feasible enough to be in the theater.”

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InfoComm keynote speaker Tony Ricotta believes the successful use of holograms as scenery is still the “holy grail,” and “the ultimate goal” in high-tech theater set design.

Now that high-tech AV is readily available to theatrical productions, it has become so normalized that audiences, especially in Las Vegas, “have this expectation there’s going to be some big ‘wow’ video support,” he said.

A big challenge his techs face is using videos and images very prominently without overwhelming the show; that’s the real goal they look to fulfill.

Hinting at the innovative method by which his current show employs video technology to heighten the experience, Ricotta said, “Elvis is using it in a very special way because the star of our show is no longer alive.”

Ricotta took his early career cues as a Broadway stagehand, which led him out to Las Vegas in 1992. He worked his way up through MGM Resorts, including a stint with the renowned Siegfried and Roy, eventually heading up automation for Cirque’s O. He’s been with Viva Elvis for three years (since before the show’s official opening in February 2012).

His relationship with InfoComm stretches back awhile; he said the association reached out and did some meet and greets and walkthroughs of the O theater. “We’ve become kind of a staple with them ever since,” he noted, regarding the mutually beneficial relationship.

When asked about the most cutting-edge AV technology featured in Viva Elvis, Ricotta cited the show’s use of dynamic LED walls as a high-resolution video screen that moves and performs other non-static functions. “The LED is very versatile,” he commented. “They’re putting it in floors, so it’s not just something on a wall anymore.”

He believes the successful use of holograms as scenery is still the “holy grail,” and “the ultimate goal” in high-tech theater set design. “I’ve talked about it since I worked on Broadway.”

As trends often leak out to the broader AV community from shows like Cirque, Ricotta took a modest view of this dynamic. “Cirque has been praised because we drive innovation, but this is one perfect example where we have taken things that are preexisting and turning to use them to support what we’re doing, opposed to driving that industry. We’re not driving the AV industry, but using it to stay current.”

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