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Sunday, Mar 3, 2024

Global Vision

As 2010 begins for Kristin Petrovich-Kennedy she has a new name for her entertainment trade show and education workshop company and new markets that she is excited to bring those events to. Started as HD Expo, the Burbank-based company is now known as Createasphere as a way to embrace who can be found at the workshops and conferences – directors, cinematographers, editors, show runners, engineers and still photographers. A career in a creative field is a natural for Petrovich-Kennedy, whose grandmother worked at Technicolor; father was a stage manager; and mother worked at post-production houses and in the home video division at Paramount. After finding success in Los Angeles, Petrovich-Kennedy hit the road with trade shows in Chicago and New York City. This year will be when Createaspehere goes international, starting with a digital cinema festival and expo in Macao in May that will bring together companies and industry professionals from the U.S., mainland China and Hong Kong. Also on tap is India, where Createasphere’s parent company, Diversified Communications, acquired a firm that produces digital cinema events and entertainment trade shows. Petrovich and her Burbank team will handle international marketing and sales. “We are going to create a Createasphere event in Mumbai that’s going to address content creators similar to what we do in the U.S.,” Petrovich-Kennedy said. Question: Tell us about how you started your company. Answer: I started HD Expo in 2001. It was really an offshoot idea of another business that I had at the time that wanted to do an event to drive attendance. We rolled out the event in three weeks. We didn’t really know what we were doing. We didn’t have a traditional trade show background and we based it around high definition. There wasn’t really any education in the community about it. We had a couple hundred people show and we had a good showing of technology. Then the exhibitors – who I didn’t know were called exhibitors – asked when’s the next trade show? The birth of the company grew out of an organic need in the entertainment industry to learn about HD. At the time it was still really questionable. Q: High definition was still relatively new in 2001? A: There were a lot of naysayers: It’s not going to happen, we’re not going to have specifications, and the transition with the broadcasters isn’t going to happen. Then we had a lot of people who were pushing the technology; the pioneers. Q: You were ahead of the curve then? A: Yes. I say that with a smile because usually when you are ahead of the curve or a pioneer you’ve got a lot of people telling you that you’re wrong and it’s not going to happen. But that seems to be the fate of all technologies if you go back and look at who pushed technologies into the industry and the marketplace. It was a small group of people. Q: How has your business model evolved over the years? A: Dramatically. Where do I start? It evolves every quarter. Keep in mind we are driven by technology, which is every changing. We are also driven by what our community needs. There are creatives who use these tools to create better stories and content. We are always evolving. The workshop division to date we are up to 100 days of education annually. This year (2009) we launched a workshop called REDucation in partnership with the RED digital cinema people. We are going to take that workshop internationally next year. We do a lot with our online portal. We shoot all our panels in HD and stream it at our site. We’ve got online learning that will launch in 2010. Interesting what we are finding with the online and viral components of our business there aren’t too many solutions out there that can provide us with a proper way to communicate with our audience. Most companies do webinars, which is a PowerPoint and a voice recorded, that wouldn’t work for our audience. They have to see high resolution images. What we are finding is we have to find these niche technologies to partner with to be able to do that and pushing the technology to a certain degree. Q: Why the name change from HD Expo to Createaspehere? A: When we started in 2001 HD was right on the cutting edge. As we grew and HD was assimilated into the marketplace it was no longer the cutting edge. What we realized was the technology being shown at the events is HD but is also 3D technology, 4K technology. So rather than name our event around a specific technology we decided to take a more esoteric position and name it around who our community is, which is content creators and the concept that there is a sphere, a circle, a community. Q: Had it always been your intention to expand internationally? A: We saw the potential about five years ago. Part of that is we were touching content creators internationally on our website so that perked our interest. You really have to have a perfect storm in place to take an event or product internationally and 2010 is certainly that for us. How can you ignore China and India; they are such a huge economic power. There are going to be a lot of unknowns culturally but I still think what we do is going to translate really well. Q: The trade shows themselves when did those begin to break even or show a profit? A: I think ignorance is bliss in a sense I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to be profitable. When we started our first event it made a teeny bit of profit but at that point it wasn’t a business strategy. It was a one-off event we produced. Where it’s got really challenging is when you get to the size where you need to balance your overhead because now we have a significant overhead. We have 14 people on our team and we are hiring more. When we were an incredibly small company with just five of us we were able to be profitable at all times. Q: Has the economy affected attendance or the number of exhibitors? A: Attendance has been up dramatically. Overall I think were at a 27 percent increase in attendance. Where it’s been a bit more challenging this year is conferences because a lot of educational budgets have been cut. What we found is individuals are paying their own way. In addition to we had to be more creative with our exhibitors and sponsors. They asked for creative payment terms or packaging it a little bit differently. This year for us was about flexibility; how to be flexible and continue to drive value. Q: Have sponsorships always been an important part to putting on the trade shows? A: Absolutely. It’s the exhibitors and sponsors that pay for the event. They depend on us to bring in qualified buyers and decision makers. Q: Any thoughts on what you see in the future for the entertainment industry? A: What’s the future of TV is a huge question. I don’t think anybody knows yet. In the sense of how content going to be delivered and how is the consumer going to consume it. I say that is not going to be figured out until the money model gets figured out. And (News Corp. Chairman Rupert) Murdoch is constantly trying to figure that one out. Digital cinema and 3D is here and that will obviously evolve and change. The technology will get better and better and it’s going to be a tool to tell a story as opposed to a show pony technology. I think personal digital asset management is actually going to be an interesting consumer trend. You sort of look at that with what Apple has done with their Mobileme. As consumers have all of this content they will want to manage it personally. Then there’s mobile. If you want to see where we are going with mobile look internationally. We’re a little bit behind a lot of countries on that. As one generation grows up they’re used to watching content on their laptop and on their cell phone and they have no qualms about it.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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