Tag Archives: coachella


Tempe firm helps bring dead stars back to life

Stepping into the expansive 33,000-square-foot warehouse of AV Concepts’ corporate office in Tempe, which houses floor-to-ceiling storage of projectors, screens and the bleeding edge systems in holographic illusions and audio/visual kits, is less intimidating than expected from a company that has found a way to resurrect the likeness of deceased celebrities and revolutionize the executive boardroom. It doesn’t, say, have the feel of a dust-free cryogenic chamber that requires a name badge to even peek inside one of the many boxes. In fact, it just looks like a regular warehouse. The closest thing is the much smaller workshop where every cable is checked and treated after a job.

“The world we live in is compressed,” says co-founder Fred Mandrick, who picks up what looks like an Ethernet cable to illustrate his point — 158 digital channels can run through this one eight-fiber cable, he says, adding that to achieve the same effect in the past involved multiple cables bundled together. Now, technology is lighter, sleeker. What used to take days or weeks to set up, he says, can be done in a day or a few hours. In fact, it only takes 60 seconds to deploy a stage on which AV Concepts resurrects deceased rappers at the Rock the Bells music festival.

AV Concepts, celebrating its 25th year in business, has been prepping for this technology for years, leaving behind analog technology in favor of digital and fiber optic investments.

“It’s about building systems and technology where it’s simplistic,” Mandrick says, adding many of the businesses AV Concepts works with need a company that is time-efficient.

Bringing holographic illusions to life involve specialized holographic foil, lighting effects and the company’s proprietary Liquid Scenicsm projection mapping media server. The server stacks uncompressed images and, using high brightness projectors, creates life-like performances. The company’s most recent recreations were for the Rock the Bells music festival for which it produced holograms of NWA’s Eazy-E and Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

“The virality of Tupac really helped us and drove a lot of people to us. A lot of people instantly said, “Look, that’s amazing. How do I do that? How do I get just a percentage of something like that?”

The concept is and isn’t the novelty of this kind of experience. In many ways, the hologram plays on a light trick practiced for centuries before AV Concepts was founded by Arizona natives Nick Smith and Fred Mandrick.

After 21 years of relative obscurity, four months of working on the Tupac project, a crashed server, blown up phones and every media outlet in the country looking for an explanation of what happened at Coachella, AV Concepts and hordes of marketing companies saw the potential of holographic images.

After Tupac’s posthumous holographic performance, he reentered the Billboard charts for the first time in more than a decade, selling 4,000 copies of his 1998 album, Greatest Hits. The song he performed, “Hail Mary,” was downloaded 13,000 times the week after his Coachella appearance.

“The key is that if you’re a major corporation or a major brand and you see these events all the sudden you see a sea of camera phones go up, from their point of view, it’s ‘Put my brand here,’” explains Anthony Stevens, vice president of business development for AV Concepts.

And that’s exactly what Nike, Inc. did.

The multinational sportswear conglomerate employed AV Concepts to create a 8-by-12-foot holographic illusion of its Jordan Super.Fly 2 shoe for the Jordan Brand’s latest shoe launch.

So how does a company that got its start running slide projectors at a John Deere event become the most sought-after company for its services?

“We started out as a very simple-minded company, based on how much money we had,” says Mandrick. “Our fundamental message was be the best we can be and make sure we have value beyond what they’re paying for.

With the exception of the company’s custom-made screens — the largest being 13-by-80 feet with a 10M pixel resolution — all of its equipment can be purchased “off the shelf.” It’s just a matter of modifying the gear and knowing how to use it.

The AV Concepts team has spent four years of trial and error perfecting its technology. And though most of its equipment is purchased off the shelf, it’s still nowhere near ready for everyday consumers. There are also little lessons along the way — Stevens recalls an instance when an observer saw a holographic projection on a building and called the fire department assuming the fire was real.

Outside of revolutionizing the board room, entertainment and marketing, AV Concepts is looking into educational expansion in the medical field.

“You’re not going to do this for your high school graduation,” Mandrick says, adding projectors are $50,000 a piece and that’s before factoring in the power bill and the fact that an average gig requires six to 10 projectors.

When it comes to finding a place, the company’s philosophy is simple, Mandrick says, “The tallest ceilings you can get.”

Apache Lake Music Festival

Apache Lake Music Festival To Showcase More Than 60 Arizona Bands

This October, the Apache Lake Resort and Marina will be home to more than 60 Arizona bands at the third annual Apache Lake Music Festival.

The festival takes place Oct. 11-13 and offers a family-friendly weekend of concerts, camping and dance parties.

Apache Lake Music Festival“It’s a music festival to create more of a great music culture here in Arizona, centered around Arizona artists,” says Matty Steinkamp, Apache Lake Music Festival’s sponsor and marketing director. “It’s all about the bands, and it’s all about the music. But more importantly, it’s all about Arizona bands and Arizona music.”

The event is expected to see upwards of 5,000 attendees, triple 2011’s attendance of 1,500.Apache Lake Music Festival

Headlining performers include Dry River Yacht Club, Banana Gun, Mergence, C-Posse, Danger Paul, Decker and Future Loves Past.

The Apache Lake Resort is already sold out of rooms, as are three of the surrounding campsites, Steinkamp says.

Apache Lake Music Festival“We definitely have a much, much bigger push this year than we ever have,” Steinkamp adds.

More than 60 local bands will play on two different stages, one outdoor and one indoor, throughout the three-day weekend. In addition, an outdoor acoustic stage featuring another 30 bands is still trying to be secured.

“There’s a big, big outdoor stage right outside between the resort and the lake, and the backdrop is essentially the sunset of Apache Canyon Lake,” Steinkamp says.

The past two festivals have predominately had an Americana theme, showcasing rock bands; but this year, the event is catering towards a larger audience. Steinkamp says the event will have more of a Coachella vibe, with extensive late-night dance parties featuring the DJ duo Beat Mass.

“This year we’ve included more of some dance groups [and] electronic groups,” Steinkamp says. “We’ve got some DJs coming out that will be doing a bit more of a light-show dance party.”

Each band will have about 45 minute to perform, with headliners having closer to an hour. Concerts will begin around 11 a.m. and run until 2 a.m.

The festival began in 2010 by Brannon Kleinlein in order to promote Arizona-based artists in a larger setting.

“Most of the other music festivals just draw on really big national acts, and local artists really never get the chance to be featured on a big stage,” Steinkamp says.

Weekend tickets cost $40 and are available at apachelakemusicfestival.com.

For more information about Apache Lake Music Festival and the performing artists, visit apachelakemusicfestival.com.


If You Go: Apache Lake Music Festival

October 11-13, 2012
20909 E. Apache Trail, #6,
Tortilla Flat, AZ 85119