You have successfully navigated through various sectors of the creative world from revamping a famed NYC nightclub, to owning a music production studio and working with elite musical artists. In addition, you are a talented instrumentalist as well. It seems that these creative paths collided and led you to the launch of Visual Comet. Why did you develop a full-scale event production house, were you filling a void in this industry?
I can’t say it was this defining moment that led to the launch. It was very simple, I was bored from lackluster productions. My family and I would attend events throughout the globe and party after party I would leave wondering where is the creativity. The scene was cookie-cutter and predictable. I wanted to break the mold and design better events. I am innovative and knew that exceptional guest’s experiences could be created, so me and my partners decided to launch a company to do that and Visual Comet was the result. I am organically creative, so having a background in both musical and theatrical productions gave me the necessary skills to build the best events through the integration of unconventional lighting and sound technology. I also have a keen eye for recognizing other “creatives” and training them to be the best in the industry. I didn’t just want to enhance passé event concepts. I believe that an event from a visual perspective should engage all of the senses. I wanted to transform the industry by producing innovative design concepts for the audience. Needless to say, I am never bored now and I am truly thankful for my amazing team that assist with the different divisions that operate Visual Comet.
Visual Comet has successfully managed several elite event productions. Which elements from a visual, sound and the overall client experience have you been most proud of executing in these types of event productions?
I am proud of multiple events produced by the Visual Comet team and our clients over the years. I have moments when I stop to admire our work. When I am walking down the street in Manhattan and pass by a storefront that I worked tirelessly to design for a client I feel a sense of completion. It’s not just the end results that makes me proud, it’s also the process. The curation of large scaled marquee events is also a very rewarding experience. Over the years it’s taken a lot of dedication to build an effective team that’s comprised of the right balance of creativeness and technical capabilities, along with acquiring the resources necessary to progressively grow Visual Comet into a cohesive branded production house. The best acknowledgment of our work comes directly from the client. When the lights go out at the end of the night and a client says “Thanks Eric, you and your team exceeded our expectations.” I rest with ease knowing that we accomplished the goal.
It’s difficult balancing such a hectic work schedule with “real life” moments such as family engagements, kid’s events and relaxation. What are your coping methods to “tune off” from the event planning world and what personal accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
I value my family over everything so prioritization when it comes to them is never a question. I don’t “tune off” but I only engage in activities that I am passionate about and willing to relentlessly pursue. Visual Comet is a prime example of that concept. It’s a very rewarding love affair that’s my livelihood, allowing me to provide for my family along with the amazing Visual Comet team members. Family and work are interconnected and at times naturally there is an overlap. From busy weekends, to late nights and little rest I still manage to make time for the important aspects of life. My grandchildren bring me endless joy, watching them be creative and grow into their personalities inspires me to achieve more daily. Family defines me and enjoying dinner with them reminds me of the importance of the sacrifices that I make to acquire success.
Clients come to Visual Comet to have their ideas transformed into reality through planning, technical capabilities, and the design team’s creative capacities. What differentiates Visual Comet from the other existing event production houses?
Outside of personally having the greatest teacher which is experience, is the dedication to go beyond all limitations to create the ultimate production for our clients. I stay abreast of new technologies across all aspects of the production industry. I have created a very strong team here at Visual Comet. We face typical design challenges at times just like any other production house. However, we never falter in our core competencies which are delivery, execution, and creativity. I may lead the team but I am always inspired by their desire to produce exceptional and aesthetically pleasing design concepts for our clients. Visual Comet is a small team of very talented individuals that come from varied backgrounds. Collectively, their creative thought processes alone are a highly valued commodity that’s very rare in this industry.
What is the most enjoyable element of your role as the CTO at Visual Comet and why?
I truly enjoy being given the task of developing new concepts for clients. I spend a considerate amount of time testing out various technologies and the best way to integrate them into build outs to wow our clients. Finding solutions to challenges is enjoyable while creating aesthetically dynamic products balances out both sides of my personality. The Visual Comet team is always selling something new so the wheels in my head are constantly turning as to how to create a stunning display. I am truly fortunate to work here with this fun and effective team!
Video mapping enhances a client’s events immensely and Visual Comet has some of the best technology in the industry to execute seamless video mapping projections. What is the most innovative design that you have created utilizing the video mapping projection system and what made it unique?
Our team has been involved in the cultivation of several fabrications, installations, and projection mapping projects. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing them all transform from the concept to production stage. One that is memorable and captivating was a 160 foot projection mapped wall that we constructed for the New York Rangers. Again, we meet challenges head-on and often take on time-sensitive projects that were refused by other production houses. Our reputation precedes us in the industry. We simply don’t give up until our clients are happy. I am fortunate to work alongside a team of dedicated designers, craftsman and overall artistically creative individuals here at Visual Comet.
In the event production world, it can be hectic trying to keep up with one event while developing the concept for the next one. What happens when you have multiple events with different themes and technical needs going on at the same time? How do you move the creative focus from a subdued corporate event to a lavish five-star hotel design concept requiring multiple installations and still deliver on time? Outside of being very organized what’s the secret for these types of production and design transitions?
The wheels in my head are constantly turning as I think of new ways to provide efficient solutions for these types of occurrences. I am rather a calm individual, so staying focused and being prepared are tools of the trade that I have always held tight to the chest. I have many years of experience with all technical components of production for various event types, so I always make sure that events occurring on the same day have all the correct technical and creative back-up teams in place prior to the event. If I am not on-site during set-up because of overlapping events I create a very detailed schematic for the team to use until my arrival which helps alleviate some of the ensuing stress of operating multiple events on the same day. It doesn’t really matter to me the event type or size, just the execution and delivery of an unique experience for our clients that makes them happy that they chose Visual Comet as the production house.
Visual Comet has a team of expert AV and lighting engineers that take a client’s concept and turn it into a visually stunning experience for their guests. These elements set the mood for the event. In the showroom you have a variety of audio visual and lighting demos for clients to experience prior to choosing one for their events, which showroom demo “wows” them the most during their visit?
It depends on the client and event type. We are a fully customizable production house, so our showroom is stocked full of the most innovative technology components on the market place. I would say that clients are very surprised to discover that some of the massive LED screens they pass by in Manhattan daily were installed by the Visual Comet team. Clients also get excited about the video mapping and its ability to create a truly immersive experience for their guests, they love exploring various concepts to integrate this technology into their events. I enjoy the challenge of finding a missing link to create an extraordinary event for a client and turning the concept into a reality.
In order to be successful in the event planning industry you have to juggle several elements all at the same time. How do you unwind after spending so many hours a day planning memorable moments for clients?
It took a little time but I have developed techniques to help me relax. I have worked in multiple sectors of the event production industry for the past twenty years and yes the production process can be demanding, brutal, and stressful at any given time. During events I am simultaneously texting, answering calls, checking emails and making sure that all production elements run smoothly without any complications. I remember early-on in my career, their were many nights that I was unable to sleep as the impending production and hopes to exceed client expectations kept me awake. This industry definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. However, as the years passed I learned how to achieve my own personal sense of balance. Being creative will always be a part of my unwinding process. I like traveling to exotic locations, reading, playing music weekly, and when I get the occasional free weekend, you can find me at the nearest body of water with a fishing rod. Most importantly I am a husband and a father so watching my family thrive and spending time with them over dinner is one of my favorite moments during the day. I have a core value system based on good ethics which were instilled in me by my parents at an early age. They taught me the importance of productivity by encouraging me to go to bed early and to get up early to indulge in moments of reflection prior to beginning my day. I always get up around 4:00 am each day and spend that valuable time alone centering myself from a spiritual, physical, and mental standpoint prior to engaging in phone calls, emails, and fulfilling client requests. This practice has served me well and led to many brilliant moments and productive days while allowing me the space needed to persevere through the inevitable ebbs and flow of this industry.
Your career background is very creative, you are a talented instrumentalist and you also spent several years working in event operations prior to joining the team at Visual Comet? What do you like most about event coordination and working in sales management at Visual Comet? Do the elements from your past career choices help you to be more productive at Visual Comet?
Visual Comet isn’t a “workplace” to me. It is my second home. The Visual Comet team, the caliber of our products, and services, makes being here everyday an easy choice. I truly believe that spending time in a space that you love with people that value your talent leads to success for both your clients and the entire team. My role allows me to do things that I enjoy, interact with people from diverse backgrounds, be creative, and bring happiness to the lives of others. I also like to believe that I am an atypical sales manager. My initial thoughts isn’t to sell a product to a client but to help them visualize how our services at Visual Comet will enhance their production. My musical background comes in handy as I think in sequential order, which helps clients propose a plan of action that is creative and keeps the energy of the production moving forward until the end. I have a “think bigger” personality and surprise my clients at times with my often grandiose concepts. If they are willing to go to a level of boundless creativity, I am ready to go along with the entire Visual Comet team as my partners.
Clients are inspired by a variety of stimuli. What was the most outrageous requests that you ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill the requests?
Outrageous request, I have encountered a few in my twenty years in this industry. One I fondly remember is the “Randall’s Island Project”. I had a client that took the photo booth concept to the next level before it’s time. They requested multiple photo stations to be staggered throughout the island with the goal of uploading real time images during the event to the main stage screen. In the world of smartphones and social media this seems like an easy feat, doesn’t it? Well circa 2003, that certainly wasn’t the case as we didn’t have the technology to efficiently produce this request. Weak wifi and Bluetooth connections meant that my friends and I would dig 3500 ft of trench and bury the multiple wires underground. Nope, we didn’t have digital photobooths either, so how did we do this? We used four megapixel cameras. Next, we mounted the cameras to an overhead truss, allowing guests to lay down and take photos. I definitely had to practice a lot of patience while being innovative to fulfill this request. But if you can do it once, they say that you can do it again and so we did, for three more consecutive years. The outrageous requests have continued to come over the years and I welcome the challenges, lessons, and client satisfaction that comes along with them.
What do you most enjoy about working at Visual Comet every day?
I think it’s important to align yourself with like-minded individuals. Our team at Visual Comet all possess the same goal at the end of the day which is a “never give up” spirit and not stopping until our clients desires are fulfilled. It’s and honor to build a foundation with a team knowing that the services are going to be delivered a 100% without fail every single time. This is a rare occurrence in this industry and I don’t take this opportunity for granted. I am sure that Eric gets annoyed by my daily morning check-in calls. But at the end of the day we are all family.