The CHOPS TeamDedicated to Excellent Service and the Art of Performance Animation
President, Executive Producer, Avateer
Gary has worn many hats over the years, and he owns quite a collection, too. He started with his CHOPS Live Animation hat in 1993, pioneering live interactive virtual characters with an amazing facial motion capture technology provided by Motion Analysis Corp.
His work led the way for animators, producers and trade show exhibitors around the world, with shows all over the US, Canada, Mexico, South America and even China, working for some major Fortune 500 brands that are very well known today.
In 2014, he took the next step in evolving his art form, by engineering his own performance animation software into a product he calls the “3D Digital Puppeteer (R).” Today, he has a team of staff and freelancers, more than two dozen copyrighted characters and a noble purpose – using his art form to have fun and make a difference.
In 2015, he added a second corporate hat, for “Invirtua” to do just that – to assist those with autism, by providing his interactive avatar technology to therapists, treatment centers and university researchers. Gary is a member of the Carson City Rotary Club and serves as a volunteer docent at the Thunderbird Lodge at Lake Tahoe, where he was named “Volunteer of the Year 2016.”
Owner, Mimic Productions
David Bennett has over 20 years of experience in the visual effects, performance capture, 3D gaming and virtual reality industries. He has played a major role in the development of facial animation, having managed the Facial Motion Capture team at WETA Digital. His credits include: Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Adventures of Tintin, Beowulf, Monster House and The Polar Express. He has also provided facial motion capture supervision for more than 50 actors, such as
Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovich.
His studio, Mimic Productions, is a leading Berlin-based 3D Animation and Motion Capture studio focusing on high-quality, photo-realistic digital doubles and 3D Characters. They cater to a vast spectrum of industries across the globe to produce digital humans and photo-real facial animation at an exceptional standard. Jesch and Bennett joined forces in September 2023.
Driven by an award-winning team of artists, Mimic uses and develops cutting edge technologies to offer the following 3D services: 3D Scanning, Character Modelling, Character Textures and Maps, Facial and Body Rigs, Facial and Body Motion Capture, Facial and Body Animation, Hair and Cloth Dynamics, Realtime Integration, and Rendering and Compositing
Some of the studio’s past clients include global brands (Nike, Swatch and Cartier), world-renowned artists (Marina Abramovich and Jeff Koons) sports heroes (Roger Federer, Christiano Ronaldo and Neymar Junior), music legends (Kanye West), and several industry-leading games (Batman: Arkham Knight, NBA 2K and Hit Man), to name a few.
Trade Show Experts
We’re very proud of our CHOPS Ambassadors (left to right) Avis Wrentmore, Kira Gurnee and Dana Stamos – live animation professionals from the Southern California area.
Each of them performs as female avatars as well as interacting with audiences to help make the avatar experience more fun and attractive during trade shows. Avis is a professional model and an accomplished photographer who specializes in portraits. Kira is an exceptional voice-over talent with many projects to her credit, and travels between her second home in New Zealand and Santa Monica regularly.
Dana wows the world of martial arts as a black belt whose love of the sport has led her to creating the world’s largest martial arts websites, including USADojo and the Martial University. She’s been a huge help to CHOPS for the past 20 years, performing in videos and at trade shows. Her background in Special Olympics was a big factor in the progress made by Invirtua over the past few years.
All our shows now include at least one of these professionals, so that our clients can count on the very best conversations between avatars and attendees.
3D Character Design Artist
Tom has been working with the CHOPS team for 20 years as the main 3D artist and character developer, starting with CHOPS himself and Virtual Mark Twain in the late 90s.
Tom has accomplished the virtually impossible, time and time again. Nearly all of our house characters and every one of the custom characters created for clients came as a result of Tom’s dedication and attention to detail, plus his uncanny ability to solve even the most technical problems.
Tom ran a 3D graphics service bureau in California for many years, before deciding to focus on becoming a master artist using Autodesk 3D Max and some of the very powerful tools associated with it.
Carol Holland Lifshitz
Marketing Communication Specialist
Carol Holland Lifshitz created the script for our new Yogi Berra Avatar. She is a marketing consultant, business writer, copywriter, scriptwriter and journalist. With forty years of experience as a marketing professional and writer of all media, and up on the latest technologies and business trends, she has become a valuable part of our team.
Exceptional creativity and intelligence, impeccable work and uncompromising dependability have been the basis for the continuing growth of her writing services company. Her scripts, web sites, social media, articles, ads, direct mail, commercials, videos, events, PR, (and more!) have helped clients achieve their strategic objectives. She has worked with all size organizations — from some of the world’s largest companies to sole proprietorships — and in an impressive and varied range of industries.
In earlier years, Carol worked in New York as VP of Marketing for two internationally known consumer products corporations, and in creative positions at several ad and PR agencies (Creative Director, Copywriter, Producer). Experience from both corporate and agency perspectives, in both business management and creative capacities, gives her a unique edge when tackling challenges.
Carol is an award-winning writer and producer with a keen business sense. She has served as Emmy Awards judge, and was chosen as a film critic for the New York BACA film festival, succeeding Rex Reed and Otto Preminger in that capacity. Additionally, Carol was selected for LinkedIn’s “Best of 2016” in three categories of writing.
She is a graduate of Vassar College, cum laude, and a member of Mensa, the high IQ society. She can be reached at email@example.com