The hungry tech consumer’s willingness to wait in line for the next hottest toy was most recently illustrated on March 31 when Tesla’s sleek and economically approachable Model 3 became available for preorder at the minimal investment of $1,000. No one seemed perturbed that they were placing orders at least a full year-and-a-half before anyone can expect to see delivery. The Model 3 is much more than the latest high tech fad though; it’s a beacon of modern engineering prowess, complete with an utterly disruptive [cringe] business model with the implicit goal to change the world economically and environmentally.
A decade ago, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk unveiled all of this in a grandiose master plan that is now realistically within reach—a feat of great foresight in a short amount of time. The serial entrepreneur, engineer, inventor, businessman—the qualifiers could go on—demonstrated early on in life a rare propensity for brilliance. While most of us can’t practically dream of the enduring success he’s already going down in history for, isn’t that what dreams are for?
Like any other high tech industry, in the AV world, we have our fair share of dreamers, knowingly and unbeknownst alike. Here at SCN, we search out these bright young minds poised to lead the innovation and business of audiovisual into the next generation. With that, we are thrilled to present the third class of The Nine, young AV leaders.
So who are The Nine? They stand out beyond their occupational interests in audiovisual. They live their lives with an inspiring passion. Like much of the industry, they exhibit a love for the arts, stage, music, and visual. Most of them emerged into careers out of these interests, yet some of them also come from business backgrounds, marketing, telecommunications, and graphic design. They pave the way for the next era of what is still largely a first generation industry, spouting new-age terminology like three-dimensional sound, passive versus active experiences, and virtual reality. The Nine embody quintessentially modern ideas that they are applying to AV systems design and installation. In some cases, they are questioning aspects of the old world order to usher along inevitable evolution in this industry.
In one example, relating a story from recent work at SXSW, Dave Rife described how Grammy-nominated artist RAC enthusiastically embraced an AV installation as an extension of how he makes music. “It’s a different way for musicians to think about how to put their music out there,” Rife elaborated. “It’s more than passive listening—on both sides. Musicians often have a few ideas for a song, and instead of choosing one idea and printing the stereo track, this allows artists and listeners to navigate their music and explore it a little.”
Mark Lozano applies his BFA to aesthetically pristine GUI design championing effortless navigation. He’s fortunate to work in a creatively fostering environment where he can pursue any idea, yet once in a while, a veteran programmer will have to break the news that a capability just isn’t available with the proprietary programming languages. He’s graced with a positive outlook in these scenarios though. “It’s always a little discouraging hearing that, but that’s the reality is that you have to work within your constraints.”
There’s the creative designer who found comfort and intrigue in the corporate install world where he’s interested in changing and expanding on the traditional systems hardware model. There’s the ambitious, new MBA holder who, on his own initiative, has been transitioning to fill his own shoes. He’s pleased to feel that the two really talented youngsters he’s been working with are pretty much there. There’s the realization that the emerging market of digital signage is ripe for applying passions for AV, marketing, and branding.
So not only are The Nine beacons of the AV industry’s enduring future, they themselves are already mentors and thought leaders. As each class of The Nine is different, for this round, we chose to focus on a range of positions in the industry and ages. You’ll find college students mixed with young professionals, those that have made careers shifts, along with some whose value is more measured by plenty of hours logged in the field.
It’s SCN’s intention with The Nine, for all in the industry, expert or novice alike, to learn about these remarkable individuals and go forth and dream.Follow the links to learn more about this year's The Nine.
The 2016 Class of The Nine
The Nine 2016
Title: Project Manager
Company: Audio, Video & Controls (AV&C)
Location: New York, NY
Why You Should Know Her: The Alvin Ailey stage manager turned AV project manager, “discovered a love of shepherding the creative process,” early on in life. Gina Costagliola proves that you don’t need to get all that technical to excel in AV. When she decided she was tired of the touring life, a former colleague set her up as an intern at AV&C. She quickly went from taking notes during presentations to eventually having her hands in most every end of the business, including self-taught relational database design to build an internal resourcing tool.
Title: Director of Creative Services
Company: Diversified Media Group
Location: New Jersey
Why You Should Know Him: He speaks with amiable conviction about where we’re headed because he has actually worked on the types of projects we weren’t sure would ever happen. Would advertising agencies ever really understand “digital signage?” And more, would they ever actually see an AV designer as a creative force? Well, yes, that happened, and TJ resides right at the crossroads as director of creative services at Diversified.
Title: Theatre, Acoustics, and AV Consultant
Location: New York, NY
Why You Should Know Him: Before he finished architecture school, Marcelo Gregório had already been working for a major acoustical consultant and started his own woodwork shop in his home of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He gained valuable experience in acoustics, theater planning, and a little bit of AV, and his home recording studio gave him the basics of audio mixing.
Location: Normal, IL
Why You Should Know Him: Helms is not your typical musician-turned-sound engineer. While music has always been a hobby, it was a volunteer role that exposed him to the AV industry: “I was at AT&T previously, and decided I wanted to change my career. I got interested in this field by working with the media ministry at my church. I did that for two years before deciding to leave my job at AT&T and pursue Columbia College’s program.”
Title: AV Design Engineer
Location: Burbank, CA
Why You Should Know Him: Kirby’s portfolio takes the term "creative design" to a new level with projects like the Warner Brothers Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter and Cirque du Soleil’s IRIS. For the first part of his career, he worked with ThinkWell, an experience design firm creating immersive environments for location-based entertainment.
Company: Dave & Gabe
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Why You Should Know Them: They have seen the way you hear, and they are building new works accordingly. Their definition of “three-dimensional sound” actuates the potential in that claim, as seen in immersive installations that layer sound and music with light, generative video, and tactility to give listeners more information and personal input into an experience. But it’s not sci-fi; it’s art, and art that leaves a lasting impression at that—pleasing not just audiences but also corporate sponsors that are looking for new brand experiences.
Location: Chicago, IL
Why You Should Know Him: Skeuomorphism and visual noise aren’t just part of Mark Lozano’s vocabulary, but they encapsulate a unique and wholly modern vision for what a GUI should look like today. AVI-SPL snapped the talented designer up out of arts school while seeking out young blood with visual expertise for UI. The AV industry wasn’t a far call for Lozano, who had DJ’d on the side during college, and he had dabbled in electrical engineering in college before transitioning to design. His ability to read a technical drawing surely made him stand out.
School: Savannah College of Arts & Design
Location: Savannah, GA
Why You Should Know Her: The recipient of the first-ever Geri Wolff Scholarship Award from the Digital Signage Federation, Savannah McNulty and her work are inspiring young women to tap into their creativity and create memorable moments. A third-year graphic design student at the Savannah College of Arts & Design, McNulty is constantly learning new ways to use her artistic sensibility for corporate projects, conveying a specific message through designs tailored to the digital signage market.
Title: Senior Sales Engineer
Company: Advanced AV
Location: West Chester, Pennsylvania
Why You Should Know Him: This go-getter started his career moving tables and chairs on a night shift, and he found that when more help was needed during the day, volunteers were rewarded. He first came to know Advanced AV as a customer, working for Merck, and he really liked the way the technicians and sales people he knew there did business.
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SCN The Nine 2016