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Innovator Profiles: Spring 2024

We’ve talked about the technology and installations, now it’s time to meet the people behind the projects

Kieran Phillips

Job title Director of sales and marketing

Company CJP Broadcast Service Solutions Ltd

How did you get into AV?

My journey into the AV industry began when I took up an opportunity to join the family business.

The decision was driven by a keen interest in the innovative technologies shaping content creation in the film and TV industry, particularly the critical role of AV in this evolution.

Leveraging a background in sales and marketing, I was able to swiftly adapt and make significant contributions to this dynamic field.

What are you currently working on?

We’re currently engaged in several studio system integration projects at CJP.

These range from corporate applications to educational facilities, encompassing traditional broadcast, virtual production and even motion capture technologies.

Favourite project?

It’s challenging to choose a favourite, but the Sunderland University project, shortlisted for an AV Award in education, stands out.

This was a comprehensive project covering a broad spectrum of technologies from traditional broadcast to virtual production.

Another notable project was with Solent University, where we implemented cutting-edge camera tracking, a state-of-the-art LED stage and installed the first Mimik lighting panels in a UK educational facility.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

The AV industry is at a pivotal point, especially with the widening skills gap.

To remain relevant and thrive, the industry needs to foster talent through partnerships with educational sectors, mirroring practices from the broadcast and film industries.

This will ensure a steady flow of skilled professionals, infusing fresh ideas and perspectives.

Additionally, the growth in virtual production, eco-friendly studio technologies and cross-disciplinary collaborations will significantly shape the industry’s future.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

For those starting in AV tech, my advice is to embrace the continuous learning aspect of the field.

The AV industry is rapidly evolving, so staying abreast of new technologies and trends is crucial.

Seek out hands-on experience through placements or internships, especially in areas like virtual production, which is becoming increasingly important.

Also, don’t underestimate the value of cross-disciplinary knowledge – understanding how AV technology intersects with other fields can open up innovative career paths.

Karen Walker

Job title VP camera motion systems

Company Ross Video

How did you get into AV?

I ended up in this industry by accident. I studied engineering and worked several jobs predominantly in the commercial side in product management.

I wanted to do something to utilise my engineering skills more and looked for commercial roles with more techy products, and I found myself working with a manufacturer of robotics in the broadcast space.

So, several years later, I am still here. It’s great fun and an interesting industry, and I still get to geek out every day.

What are you currently working on?

I can’t tell you! But it’s completely innovative and will revolutionise our industry. I am lucky that I get to work on several projects involving AI and pure hardware products.

Favourite project?

I’ve had several favourite projects, from developing new hardware products for customers, which I love, to software solutions like talent tracking, where we launched the first AI product from Ross Video.

Working on new studios with customers and assisting them with getting the best solutions is also a highlight.

There was one example in Mexico: I was called in last minute to do a demo.

I had to set up the kit and demo – to the ‘interest’ of several of the employees – and walked out with the order, which was very satisfying.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

One good thing about the AV industry: it’s growing and constantly changing.

From the way generations watch or listen to video and music, to how audio and video is created on phones or using AI.

Tools are so easily accessible, and the amount of content created on a daily basis is massive.

With the ease of creating video, and new jobs it has made and will continue to make, the future is endless.

One thing that will happen is the industry will change, AI will have a huge influence on creating content – both good and bad.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

Go for it, be open to learn and change as there are new roles created frequently, find your niche and dive in.

Roger Takacs

Job title VP of education

Company Lightware Visual Engineering

How did you get into AV?

I interviewed for a marketing job with a company in Silicon Valley. I didn’t know what the company did because their name was an acronym.

Their website just linked to a bunch of products they sold.

Five minutes into the interview, I was asked by the VP of sales and marketing if I knew what they did. I responded, “No, your website didn’t make any sense!” He proceeded to tell me I would make a great salesperson in the company and introduced me to audiovisual technology.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the expansion of the Lightware Taurus UCX line-up for education, bringing USB and USB-C to classrooms with audio and video.

Favourite project?

A university approached us and asked for a four-room combining system that was completely automated.

Each room needed to auto-switch between USB-C and HDMI based on which connection was used.

Video and audio needed to be routed to the appropriate displays, while USB sources in that room needed to be routed to the computer.

As part of the room combining, wall sensors needed to track which walls were open and closed so that the images could be shared to create either four, three, two or one giant room.

The request was that the solution be fully automated – the room must know its state and which input should be displayed where.

Lightware was able to design the system and even create a working demonstration in under two days.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

When I was new in the AV industry, one of my mentors said to me, “Every seven years, the AV industry will have a new technology that keeps us employed.”  I didn’t understand then, but I do now.

This wonderful AV industry continues to integrate new technologies – both consumer and professional – into complete solutions.

We are at the beginning of the growth of the USB-C connection today.

Over the next five years, we will watch this exciting and challenging new connection dominate the success and failure of many AV projects.

Professional AV integration will give our customers what they are seeking in this new area.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

Learn what’s new first, today that’s USB-C and USB peripheral distribution.

Spend time on older technology, but understand plenty of people know how the older technology works.

There’s a lot of opportunities in AV, some will be the perfect fit, like a BNC connector, and others will feel like pushing that round composite connector through an HDMI port.

However, you will need creativity, you will need to dream about big AV installations, you will need to walk into stadiums and think about how many pixels are on that screen.

You’ll walk into restaurants and look at the wiring and question who did the installation.

Enjoy and have fun!

Marc Wilson

Job title Managing director

Company Glensound

How did you get into AV?

I started out on BBC Radio Kent as one of Rod Lucas’ on-air team. This got me into technical audio equipment and becoming a DJ.

My first proper job in AV was with a UK disco equipment manufacturer called Citronic, working with slave amplifiers, zone mixers and the like. 

With a journey via a UK audio distributor called Preco, which supplied audio processors from Orban, and consoles from Lawo, I ended up at Glensound in 2008 where I am still now.

What are you currently working on?

Sixty-four channel audio interfaces, upgrading our intercom system, and a new Dante speaker!

Project-wise, there are always multiple esports projects coming up which are always a lot of fun. 

One of our newest developments is in esports, but it’s all very hush hush!

Favourite project?

Most of our projects are very rewarding, but one of the smallest custom projects was fun.

We designed a twin, Dante-based phono preamp for YouTube.

They bought two and that’s all we ever sold! It’s probably the world’s only Dante turntable amp as far as we are aware!

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

From our side, it is the further expansion of audio networking and the control systems that go with it.

Systems can share audio easily now using Dante or Ravenna, but common control systems are equally important. Glensound wants to continue at the forefront of this.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

Get involved in as many real-world projects as you can.

Volunteer to help in set-up or rigging for the local theatre, volunteer at your local community radio station.

Anything you can do to get hands-on with equipment and expand your network should always go along with any studies.

David Kaszycki

Job title CEO

Company Beam Dynamics

How did you get into AV?

You could say that I was born into it.

My father started one of the first digital kiosk companies in the early nineties and I was always surrounded by the latest technologies and tools that were coming out.

I remember hearing that, one day, there would be a full-colour screen that fit into your hands to watch movies on, but as a young kid I did not believe this could ever happen. Fast forward another ten years, the iPhone came out.

As I grew up, I had internships at several digital signage manufacturers and media companies, eventually starting my first AV company in college, installing digital signage across college campuses.

I installed one of the first digital screens on a college campus that displayed university information, local advertisements and emergency alerts.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently the founder of Beam Dynamics and creating a new way to manage AV assets across multiple locations, vendors and workflows, which we call Asset Intelligence.

It’s changing the way companies manage their AV infrastructures and significantly increases the ROI of AV deployments.

Favourite project?

I am interested in the interaction between digital signage and mobile devices.

I love looking at projects in public spaces that use digital signage to its full advantage in an elegant way, seamlessly fitting into all of the other information an individual is fed on a day-to-day basis.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

I believe that there will be a unified communication layer between owners of AV technology and the vendors or manufacturers that support them, which will save the industry billions of dollars for both buyers and sellers.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

Get out into the field, ask loads of questions – and do not be afraid to challenge the status quo.

There are many problems that AV has still yet to solve, and the only way that you are going to solve them is by engaging with users of the technology as well as those who rely on it for valuable information.

This will set you up to be successful in your current domain, as well as help you see what you need to build to deliver the future for the AV industry.

Stephen Gallagher

Job title Marketing director

Company Mo-Sys Engineering

How did you get into AV?

That’s my dad’s fault.

He bought me a twin tape deck which got me into audio recording. He was an early adopter of new technology in an era when VHS and hi-fi was booming.

He also ran the family business, a small domestic electrical firm, and had found a niche installing some of the first pressure mat burglar alarms.

I guess that’s where playing with wires and understanding signal paths all began. I later joined Canford and worked with some really amazing people who gave my curiosity space to flourish. S

o I got into pro AV, broadcast and IP comms before joining Mo-Sys, which has a long history of pushing boundaries and being at the forefront of virtual production and image robotics.

What are you currently working on?

We’re preparing for ISE in Barcelona, where we’ll push the limits of what’s possible on a trade show floor.

Favourite project?

As a proud northern lad, I’d probably go with the University of Sunderland.

The team there have great vision and an incredible desire to ensure students have access to the very best media and TV production training.

With the support of CJP (a Mo-Sys partner), the university invested in a state-of-the-art LED virtual production studio and in doing so demonstrated its commitment to providing tangible opportunities for young people.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

I believe we will continue to see a convergence of IT into everything – as more technologies become networkable and more processing can be done in the cloud.

Speaking about virtual production, I think more universities will look to the huge success at Sunderland and take the opportunity to assess and modernise their own media courses to incorporate VP.

I also think that we’ll see corporates turning to VP, where they’ll install their own studios which will enable them to increase content output and respond quickly to market conditions to gain a competitive advantage.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

Go for it – and take every training opportunity you can!

Clint Hoffman

Job title President of the Americas

Company Lightware Visual Engineering

How did you get into AV?

I started at an integrator right out of college. I majored in communications in college with an emphasis on radio, television and film, and was fortunate to do a lot of work in those disciplines.

Soon after I graduated, I saw an ad for a sales position at Video Corporation of America, aka VCA, a pro AV integrator.

I started in educational sales and was responsible for finding and replying to pro AV bids throughout the US.

What are you currently working on?

I am working to build up the US sales office and will soon establish a Canadian  sales office. I am also working to further develop our presence in Latin America.

We have grown so rapidly that we need to continue to properly align our teams and resources accordingly.

Favourite project?

We were recently successful in having our Lightware Taurus UCX universal USB-C enabled matrix switcher become part of a global conferencing room standard for a large financial company.

But what I am most proud of in this success story is how it came to be, because that story is very indicative of who Lightware is as a company.

At the Infocomm show in 2022, a key manager from that global financial company was walking the show floor with a cardboard sign on which he had essentially written something to the effect of: ‘please talk to me if you have 802.1X security in your solutions’.

Our team engaged in a conversation at the show and came to understand the importance of the 802.1X network security protocols for the future of almost all pro AV users.

While I am sure he had conversations at that show with other manufacturers as well, our engineers went right to work on the challenge. We stayed in close contact with customers and successfully developed 802.1X protocols into our Taurus UCX products.

With that level of network security and our already- existing outstanding features, we are proud to be a part of one of their room standards – and we are positioned to outfit more and more of their offices with our solutions worldwide in the coming years.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

The continuing evolution of room automation control, artificial intelligence and USB technology help make pro AV solutions even more user-friendly than before.

This is important as the world settles into the post-Covid era. Today, hybrid work and hybrid education arrangements are very common.

This elevates the need for high-performance video conferencing solutions.

These need to provide a simple, repeatable and reliable user experience to be effective, and the developments in room automation control, AI and USB technology are enabling these higher-performance conferencing solutions.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

Become a part of AVIXA and make sure you avail yourself of all the educational and networking opportunities this provides.

Get to know NSCA and take advantage of all the benefits offered. If you are involved in residential AV, make sure you are part of CEDIA.

When you can attend a show like ISE, or Infocomm or CEDIA, be sure to absorb everything you can.

Simon Parkinson

Job title Managing director

Company Dot Group

How did you get into AV?

I run a firm that supports AV companies with distribution of content. We are global leaders in software called Aspera which accelerates file transfers.

As files get larger with onboarding of higher-resolution content capture hardware, our clients have been struggling to meet the demands of their customers.

What are you currently working on?

Access to the Aspera SW had become seen as the luxury of large media firms. We have been able to produce a unique proposition using Aspera that is truly affordable.

This is called Datasprint (powered by IBM Aspera). We are now evolving Datasprint Private to offer clients a short-term ‘rental’ called Datasprint on Demand; we see this as particularly helpful in the AV industry, as they can now use our solution for short-term productions or projects without the need for long contracts.

Favourite project?

A client whose business was limited to the number of clients whose content they could process in a day. Datasprint has transformed their business by increasing that throughput tenfold.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

In the short term, with the Hollywood strikes now in the past, we are seeing an initial backlog of production to process.

While in the medium term, we see an important role for AI; one that we are looking to embrace.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

Be brave and go for it. Don’t be worried too much about where you start, it is a great industry.

Fast-paced, modern and rich with a huge variety of roles. Plus, I have seen first-hand what a supportive culture and network exists.   

Gary Rosen

Job title Vice president of global sales

Company Pliant Technologies

How did you get into AV?

I was always interested in audio and AV and began building recording studios and engineering records while I was still in high school.

I went on to begin my career as a general manager of an east-coast recording studio and later moved over to the manufacturing side.

I have been with Pliant since 2007 and can regularly be found holding training seminars for customers and dealers, as well as representing the company at conventions and trade shows right across the world.

What are you currently working on?

At Pliant Technologies, we’re continuing to deliver wireless communications products to the ever-challenging world of production.

Wireless devices are now everywhere, and RF space is getting more and more crowded with every day.

Designing and manufacturing products that work well in this environment is our primary focus.

Favourite project?

Our gear is used in sports broadcast production and live production events like the Super Bowl, where there are more wireless devices in one place than anyone can possibly imagine.

Pliant’s solutions are especially useful during live production, as there is only one opportunity to get it right – and having pristine communication among all the production staff is crucial.

What does the future hold for the AV industry?

As technologies evolve, I think we will continue to see products with even more connectivity options, as well as having easier access to amazing new devices.

I think there is also the potential to see new life being brought to older solutions.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in AV tech?

If you love it and it interests you, then go for it. AV tech is a constantly and rapidly changing field. 

Embrace that change and learn something new every day – never stop learning.

Mostly, if you get out of bed every day looking forward to the day and what you are about to do for your career, you’ll always find success.

This interview was first published in the Spring 2024 issue of LIVE.


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