The Nine: The Newest Class of AV Innovators

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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.
The Nine (l–r): (top row) Bryan Pass, Dave & Gabe, Gina Costagliola; (center row) Stanton Helms, Vikram Kirby, Mark Lozano; (bottom row) Marcelo Gregório, Savannah McNulty, TJ DiQuollo. 

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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.

Click here to meet The Nine

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