ABOVE: TEA President Steve Birket and Paul Kent at SATE ’15. Courtesy Themed Entertainment Association.
Paul Kent, Senior Consultant Entertainment, Electrosonic
interview by Judith Rubin
[quote]In the end, my favorite place to stand is at the exit of an attraction or show and watch happy people leaving – validating a successful project.”[/quote]
[dropcap color=”#888″ type=”square”]E[/dropcap]lectrosonic Inc. recently marked its 50th anniversary. This international leader in audiovisual solutions serves a wide range of markets including theme parks, museums, control rooms, and corporate meeting rooms. Beyond complete integrated systems, Electrosonic provides a comprehensive scope of services including technical design, projector lamp sales, maintenance and operational support. The company maintains offices in the US, the UK, China and the UAE. Paul Kent is based in the UK.
Where do you see today’s key markets for themed entertainment?
All markets are important, and in most regions they are expanding. The focus is on the new, big from-theground-up developments in the Far and Middle East. However, markets in the USA and Europe are just as strong, with clients and parks looking for new concepts and developing their own or imported IP.
The market that has expanded the most over recent years is that of multi-player online gaming, with revenues exceeding those of the traditional cinema markets. This has opened up a new breed of guest experiences that are now being planned into attractions and Family Entertainment Centers. The technology and storylines involved in these experiences are certainly going to shape some of the upcoming developments in the next few years, as they are developed from a single-person experience into a multi-person experience, with group experiences becoming more immersive.
Are these fertile markets for Electrosonic?
As an international company, Electrosonic has worked in many of these regions and markets over its 50+ year history. The level of design and integration that is needed to achieve a great storyline and experience, presents many great opportunities for Electrosonic. Together with our technology partners, we can drive and shape the technology, to successfully exceed visitor expectations every time.
Tell us about some recent projects you are most proud of. What were the special challenges and achievements?
I’m not going to get too specific because so many projects these days carry heavy non-disclosure mandates. All of the projects that we approach have different challenges, but it is the internal team and knowledge pool inside of Electrosonic that I am probably most proud of. The attitude of “it’s never been done before… well then let’s get on with it and make it happen!” is a great part of the company resource. It can often mean bringing people with different skillsets together from multiple locations. Working with a client to bring a project to life based on this knowledge is great. Some of the biggest projects in the last few years have all started with a small test and mock-up, in everything from sub-zero temperatures to a room full of “tools” that are utilized to create a workable and reliable solution. In the end, my favorite place to stand is at the exit of an attraction or show and watch happy people leaving – validating a successful project.
You recently became President of the Europe & Middle East Division of TEA (EME). What are the primary goals you hope to achieve during your term?
It is a great time to be in the industry. My main goal is to continue improving the level of education within the industry, both for those who have been involved with it for many years and for the next generation. The NextGen initiative from the TEA is one area of focus for the EME Board and I in our endeavors to mentor and help people into the industry.
What are some of the key differences between the EME region and the other markets, such as North America and Asia?
The obvious one is culture, and what may play well in one region may not in another. You do have to learn the business style of each region, and listen more than talk.
How did you find your way into this industry?
I arrived into the industry not really knowing it existed! My original background was theatre and from that I moved into live events and exhibitions. I ended up in visitor attractions via a film company and through this I have been on all sides of the creative table, as both contractor and owner. It is a great industry to be in. • • •