Nikken Julie 


An unusually attractive spokesmodel appeared on big screens for the Nikken network marketing event at the Anaheim Convention Center and created some great impressions. With Kira Gurnée, professional model, as the voice of “Julie” and Gary Jesch at the Digital Puppeteer controls, this CMS Communications production brought nothing but praise from Nikken event managers.

“Julie” is an interactive avatar created by Gary Jesch and 3D artist Tom Knight to serve the corporate special events planners and meeting industry. She’s able to speak in real time with audiences just like a spokesperson or actress could, and can see and hear what’s happening on stage, through the use of small, wide-angle hidden cameras and microphones.

Backstage in a sound-isolation booth at the Arena, Gurnée and Jesch were able make this cyber-puppet perform with feelings and emotions, right on cue, either from a script or from Gurnée’s quick ad-libbing abilities.

Kira Gurnee

Performing “Julie” was a two-person job in this case. Gurnée was selected by the production agency’s producers with Jesch’s help, for her poise and speaking voice, during phone auditions. Perhaps the duties of the job were a surprise for her, but her reaction was purely professional.






After the event, Gurnée said, “”I worked with Gary as the voice talent for Nikken’s North American conference, where he designed and animated an onscreen avatar that interacted directly with the speakers and audience. Gary is not only very talented, but a pleasure to work with. He was always prompt and professional, making sure that the other people involved in the show knew exactly what was happening on his end, and giving them what they needed to make the production the best it could be. Although he was the one doing it for the actual show, Gary even showed me how to animate the onscreen avatar to micmic the gestures that I was doing as I spoke backstage, so I could better understand the whole process. As a result, it made my job easier and we worked even better as a creative team for the event. The clients were very pleased and the feedback that I heard them give Gary was extremely favorable.”

CMS Communication’s technical producer, Brian Sharp, said “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.”