Virtual Julie Mesmerizes Nikken Team

Professional spokesmodel Kira Gurnee had the VIPs and audience of the Nikken marketing event in the palm of her hand, but she wasn’t on stage working where she normally does.

Instead, she was closeted away backstage at the controls of the Digital Puppeteer while her virtual persona appeared up on the big screens.

Nikkens’ event at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena in October 2011 needed to be special and have high impact, celebrating the success of dozens of their most important people. They turned to LA-based CMS Communications Int’l, headed by Sal Barilla and president/producer Diana Zimmerman to deliver a finely-tuned professional show for an audience of about 2000.


Brian Sharp“Working with Gary and CHOPS was a true pleasure. Having explored numerous methods of creating an interactive Avatar for a convention we were producing, we decided CHOPS offered the best solution. We were right.”

“Gary was responsive to all of our requests, including several unexpected changes the client desired. Onsite, he proved to be a real asset–efficient, reliable and a team player. The avatar was a huge hit. The ability to have the avatar interact off-the-cuff with the presenters and the audience made a great impact. We are now including CHOPS in all our proposals.”

Brian Sharp – CMS Communications


Kira was an excellent choice as the voice of “Julie” – her stage presence and quick wit were engaging and captivating every time “Julie” appeared. By using the virtual spokesperson, the show was able to introduce and discuss certain topics with a certain ease and attitude that made everything feel more fun.

On a technical side, Gary set up a primary computer and a back-up system in a walled-off sound booth backstage near the video crew, connected his video and audio feeds and positioned a small “spy camera” on the front edge of the stage so that he and Kira could see and hear everything going on on-stage. The two were able to easily handle rehearsals, script-changes and stage direction for two days, prior to the live event.


Gary was also able to add some customizing touches to the character on the screen, including an attendee badge and a coveted Nikken water bottle that “Julie” could drink from during the show. The attention to detail, high-resolution video and 3D modeling and Kira’s acting skill combined to deliver an unforgettable performance.

The Nikken event was produced by Sal Barilla and Diana Zimmerman of CMS Communications with Brian Sharp and Jay Howarth, and staged by Graham Sutherland of GraSar Productions.

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