31 August 2017

Speakers, sessions & info: TEA SATE 2017 Los Angeles, Oct 5-6 at CalArts

Confirmed sessions and speakers for TEA SATE 2017 Los Angeles, Oct 5-6 at CalArts, are listed below. SATE is the definitive conference on Experience Design, presented by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). (Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience.) Theme: The Future of Immersive Realities.

  • This information will be updated regularly and is subject to change.
  • Hashtag: #TEAsate
  • Press inquiries: Contact Judith Rubin



Purchase tickets / Hotel information / Sponsorship opportunities 

For SATE schedule, click here

For details on SATE speakers & chairs, click here

For TEA GibGab information, click here.


Michael Jung
Travis Preston

SATE KEYNOTE: A conversation with...

Michael Jung, VP Theatrical Development, Walt Disney Imagineering

moderated by Travis Preston, Dean of the CalArts School of Theater

At a SATE conference, the keynote takes the form of a Conversation, designed as an “Inside the Actors studio”-type, onstage interview and meeting of minds. With Jung and Preston, we have the ingredients of a stellar Conversation. Both have rich backgrounds in theatre. Both are deeply connected to CalArts. Both are at the top of their game and helping move themed entertainment into the future.

Storytelling Segment Chair:
Paul Osterhout, Universal Creative


SATE Sessions


  • ROE- Return on Experience: Using data to generate results-driven creative - AMY BLACKMAN, Contend Immersive - "A.I. sourced data is
    driving the future of immersive experiences. To survive and thrive, the Themed Entertainment Industry needs to utilize 'Data Hacked Creative.'"
  • Immersion and theming: Shifting paradigms - DANNY BYERLEY, On Track Themes - "The industry’s shifting design paradigm creates a fundamental difference between the concepts of immersion and theming, shaping the stories we tell and the art form itself."
  • The future of immersive realities - DAVID RUZICKA, Gryffon Creations LLC - "Themed entertainment developers spend millions engaging guests. Enter the strange world of immersive theater, where engagement is being re-imagined at a fraction of the expense."
  • Westworld - HBO’s theme park of the future as inspiration, prediction and cautionary tale - BRENT YOUNG & ROBERT COKER, Super 78; STEVE TEIG, Xperi; JEFF TUCKER, Knott's Berry Farm; MICHAEL LIBBY, Worldbuildr; GARNER HOLT, Garner Holt Productions - "The total immersion of Westworld is coming. But when? Experts in A.I., robotics, and themed entertainment discuss the challenges of making a Westworld-type experience real.”
  • How "millennials" tell stories - JASON MCMANUS, Thinkwell Group; CalArts - "An in-depth look at the evolving audience for themed entertainment and the new ways we can use this cultural change to tell better stories." 
  • Spy Day - JANET T. PLANET, Fahrenheit 212 - "People dive head first into immersive stories if you leave the right breadcrumbs. Janet T. Planet shares learnings from 20 years choreographing elaborate underground spy adventures."


Architecture Segment Chair:
Louis Allen, Adirondack Studios


  • Hybrid-Reality - drawing media into the space of the viewer - STEVE BOYER, California State University, Long Beach - "Digital spaces are rapidly becoming the dominant mode of interaction with our environment. Hybrid Design is an approach to architecture that uses digital technologies to reactivate space."
  • Beyond the screen: The future of immersive technology - JOHN SPENCER, Mars World Enterprises - "Creating authentic immersive experiences requires a deep understanding of the invented world and characters. I will present our science future design process for Mars World."
  • Making history come to life - GENEVIEVE ANGIO-MORNEAU, GSM Project - "Design and technology makes research into our past come alive in history and archaeological museums, cultural venues and observation decks."
  • Pushing Immersion - JOHN ZALLER, Imagine Exhibitions - "Exploring the cross disciplinary collaboration and mix of existing and new technologies that bring film IP off the screen and into the Museum."


Technology Segment Chair:
Corey Rosen, Tippett Studio


  • Flash! Boom! Pfft! The intersection of art and technology in storytelling - DAREN ULMER, Mousetrappe; JON BAKER, Jon Baker Productions; LISA PASSAMONTE GREEN, Visual Terrrain - Technology plays an important role in the art of storytelling. This dynamic panel discussion will look at the modern technology tools to create truly immersive experiences.
  • Trying things together - JON SNODDY, Walt Disney Imagineering - "Building a Living World by Connecting all the Pieces"
  • Beautiful walled gardens: Disruptive technologies and our (excluded) audiences - CYNTHIA SHARPE, Thinkwell Group - "Our spaces are not for everyone, despite what we like to tell ourselves. How can technology help bridge divides?"


Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience (SATE)


Day-to-day Schedule: TEA SATE 2017 Los Angeles, at CalArts 

Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017

  • Special pre-SATE event - details TBA

Thursday, Oct 5, 2017 

  • 8:00 am - Registration & breakfast
  • 8:45 am - 12:00 noon - Morning conference sessions (with breaks) - Walt Disney Mod Theatre
  • 12:00 noon - 1:30 pm - Lunch
  • 1:30 -5:00 pm - Afternoon conference sessions (with breaks) - Walt Disney Mod Theatre
  • 5:00-6:30 pm - Hosted cocktail party with hors d'oeuvres (for SATE delegates)
  • 6:30-8:30 pm - Dinner (for SATE delegates)
  • 8:30 pm -- Additional activities TBA

Friday, Oct 6, 2017

  • 8:00 am - Registration & breakfast
  • 8:45 am - 12:00 noon - Morning conference sessions (with breaks)
  • 12:00 noon - 1:30 pm - Lunch
  • 1:30 - 5:00 pm - Afternoon conference sessions (with breaks)
  • 5:00 pm - Evening networking event and SATEoke - details TBA

Saturday, Oct 7, 2017

  • 9:00 am - 2:00 pm - TEA GibGab at SATE 2017 - This is a career building event, for TEA NextGen Members and participating companies only. Registration required; deadline to purchase tickets is Sept 8. Companies wishing to inquire about participation, contact TEA NextGen Chair Arielle Rassel


(in alphabetical order)

LOUIS ALLEN, VP Creative, Adirondack Scenic, SATE ARCHITECTURE SEGMENT CHAIR - A production designer and artist, Louis Allen specializes in the shaping of two dimensional assets through visualization in three dimensions. His path has taken him to China, Japan, Dubai, Singapore and Malaysia as well as the USA on projects from fine arts to commercial development. Louis looks forward to sharing insights and discussing the design process of dimensional realization in our industry. Formerly a member of the TEA International Board of Directors, he advocates the Association’s commitment to worldwide development of the Themed Attraction industry.

GENEVIEVE ANGIO-MORNEAU, Creative Director, GSM Project - Bringing stories to life in inspiring spaces is what Geneviève most loves to do. Combining backgrounds in graphic design and museology, she has helped develop museum exhibitions in Singapore, China, the UAE and North America. Milestones include Burj Khalifa’s observation deck, Espace Montréal at Shanghai Expo 2010 and the international travelling exhibitions, Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology and Star Wars Identities. Recent projects have taken her from Alaska to Abu Dhabi. She is currently back in Montreal after a year abroad to kick-start the creative department of GSM Project’s new Dubai branch.

JON BAKER, Audio Producer/Composer/Founder, Jon Baker Productions - Providing creative, audio and show production services to live entertainment, theme park and record company clients, Jon Baker Productions has been connecting people through music for 20+ years. Jon is an Emmy Award winning composer, arranger and audio producer. Projects include: Ferrari Land at PortAventura, Spain, Superstar Parade, Universal Studios, Orlando, Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center, Viking Ocean Cruises live shows, Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery in 4D, Universal Studios Singapore's Sesame Street Dark Ride and the USA Pavilion at Yeosu Expo 2012.

DINA BENADON, Co-Founder & Principal, Super 78; SATE CO-CHAIR - Dina is a passionate believer in people, technology and the future - the culmination of a career rooted in producing groundbreaking immersive entertainment. Established 20 years ago as a media design and production studio, Super 78 is a leader in content and attraction creation, and an innovator of storytelling technology tools. Dina inspires and cultivates the company’s expertise. An active member of TEA and the Producers Guild of America, Dina promotes visionary ideas by fostering the fusion of multiple storytelling approaches.

AMY BLACKMAN, VP Contend Immersive - Brooklyn native Amy Blackman earned an MA in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University, then worked in Band Management in LA for 18 years. She was named a Cultural Ambassador for the US State Department, producing public diplomacy missions in regions that had never before seen live music from the West. She next attended Georgetown University for a Global Executive MBA and was recruited to run the North America subsidiary of a global multimedia design agency. At Contend Immersive, she works with rogue, vanguard and brilliant strategists, designers, artists, branders.

STEVE BOYER, Assistant Professor, Department of Design, California State University, Long Beach - Artist, designer, inventor, and educator, Steve Boyer has 25+ years’ experience developing technology and creating content for interactive media, including video games, electronic toys and architectural installations. His patents include the world’s first volumetric LED cube and a method for synchronizing an unlimited number of electronic devices. He has been on faculty at Art Institute of Chicago, UC San Diego, and Otis College of Art and Design. He was Director, Research and Development for Interactive Entertainment at Vivendi Games, and founded three startups. He earned his Master’s at Southern California Institute of Architecture.

DANNY BYERLEY, Creative Director, On Track Themes - Danny Byerley combines a lifetime love of theme parks (summers at Dollywood; weekends at Walt Disney World; and evenings at SeaWorld) with more than a decade of theme park design, production, and attraction operations experience. The layers and colors of these experiences prepared him to be the ambassador for stories at On Track Themes: how we tell them, how they shape guests’ internal stories, and how they change the way we collectively move through the world.


ROBERT COKER, Senior Show Writer, Creative Development, Super 78 - Robert Coker’s most recent projects include writing the attraction scripts for “Alpha Flight” and “Wings Over Washington,” Super 78’s two most recent Flying Theater attractions. He also wrote the scripts for the entire guest experience of “The Forbidden Caves,” the 3D media-based Immersion Tunnel attraction at Belgium’s Bobbejaanland theme park. Robert wrote the pre-show, queue videos, and queue exhibits for “SpongeBob SubPants Adventure,” the interactive 3D digital character attraction for Moody Gardens. He is also a member of the development team for The Walt Disney Birthplace restoration project.

CHRIS CONTE, Vice President, New Business Development, Electrosonic, Inc.; SATE CO-CHAIR - Chris leads a dedicated, talented group focused on exploring new relationships and new business opportunities to help generate the future business canvas of Electrosonic. He joined Electrosonic in 2001 as GM of Western Regional Business and was instrumental in the company’s growth and new business for the US entertainment division. He was promoted in 2008 to VP of the worldwide entertainment business, and has been in his current role since 2015. Chris sits on the TEA International Board, and this is his second year as SATE Co-Chair.

GARNER L. HOLT, Founder & President, Garner Holt Productions, Inc. (GHP) - Founded when Garner was 16 and still in high school, GHP is now a world leader in designing and building animatronics and other elements for entertainment, retail and education. In 34 countries on six continents, GHP’s work can be seen in nearly 5,000 individual animatronic figures created for such clients as Disney, Universal Studios, Mattel, NASA, Lockheed-Martin, Nike, Cedar Fair, LLC, Coca-Cola, and more. Garner’s TEA honors include the 2015 Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements and 20+ projects that received Thea Awards.

MICHAEL JUNG, Creative Executive of Theatrical Development for Walt Disney Imagineering Live Entertainment - SATE KEYNOTE SPEAKER - Michael Jung creates and develops large scale entertainment experiences that thrill and delight millions of guests at Disney Parks and Resorts around the world. Recent projects: Happily Ever After at Disney's Magic Kingdom, Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom; Disney Movie Magic at Disney's Hollywood Studios; Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Disneyland Paris; Mickey and the Wondrous Book at Hong Kong Disneyland; and Tarzan: Call of the Jungle at Shanghai Disneyland. Michael is an alumnus of and currently on faculty at CalArts.

CHRISTIAN KUBSCH, Show Design & Production Studio Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering; SATE CO-CHAIR - Kubsch leads WDI’s Show Studio, responsible for show design and production at Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships. Previous roles include President of Deluxe Entertainment’s Method Studios, Managing Director of Lucasfilm in Singapore, and GM, Disney’s ImageMovers Digital. At Universal, Kubsch’s credits include 2010 Space Walk, Star Trek Adventure, Back to the Future – The Ride, T2:3D, and Jurassic Park. He served as Producer on Sanrio Puroland and Harmonyland, and Project Director on Huis Ten Bosch. Kubsch is a member of the Producers Guild of America and Visual Effects Society and of the TEA International Board.

MICHAEL LIBBY, President & CEO, Worldbuildr - After working in themed entertainment for several years, Michael headed back to school to prepare for the coming digital revolution and its inevitable disruptions of the industry. With an MFA in Interactive Media & Game Design from USC's School of Cinematic Arts, he became an interactive consultant specializing in navigating the tug-of-war between the "anything is possible" affordances of digital design and the hard truths of "real world" attraction operation. His company, Worldbuildr, is an interactive design firm specializing in game design, interactive development, and attraction previsualization. His clients include Disney Consumer Products.

JASON MCMANUS, Art Director, Thinkwell Group; CalArts - Jason, a CalArts alum, began his career as a graphic and conceptual illustrator at Walt Disney Imagineering. Now with 14+ years as a storyteller in the themed entertainment industry, he has led creative and art direction for cruise ships, resort hotels, and theme park attractions around the globe. In addition to his work at Thinkwell, for several years Jason has taught industry-focused courses such as The Art of Themed and Immersive Experiences and ThemeLAB 101 within the School of Theater at CalArts. He is a TEA Western Division Board member.

PAUL OSTERHOUT, Vice President/Executive Producer Universal Creative; SATE STORYTELLING SEGMENT CHAIR - With 40+ years’ diversified, international experience in blue-sky conceptual development, design, art direction, producing, product branding and master planning, Paul has played an integral role in creating a variety of world-renowned venues in themed entertainment, resort environments, innovative retail and interactive game media development for companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Electronic Arts and Universal Creative. Currently VP/Executive Producer for Universal Beijing Resort, Paul is responsible for setting the creative vision, directing the conceptual development, and Executive Producing the attractions and shows. He sits on the TEA International Board.

LISA PASSAMONTE GREEN, CEO & Principal-in-Charge, Visual Terrain Inc. – Lisa’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including eight Thea Awards. Her company, Visual Terrain, Inc., is celebrating over 20 years of lighting design for architecture, attractions and the arts. Lisa launched her career lighting themed environments for Walt Disney Imagineering; she is now recognized internationally, with projects on six continents. Lisa has designed lighting for world expos, theme park attractions, 3D, 4D and 5D attractions, museums, casinos, municipalities, public art, retail, and restaurants, as well as creation of park-wide lighting and control systems and standards for parks around the world.

JANET T. PLANET, Head of Innovation & Idea Development Practice Lead, Fahrenheit 212 - Janet T. Planet is an experience designer, mechanical engineer, confections creative, fashion designer and innovator. In addition to her role at innovation consultancy Fahrenheit 212, the former head of the Wonka candy company, the creator of several attractions and resort concepts, and a long-time Burning Man theme camp organizer, Janet is the architect of SPY DAY, a massive underground storytelling adventure that draws people from 15 countries to participate (and at least once caught the attention of the intelligence community).

TRAVIS PRESTON, Dean of the CalArts School of Theater; Artistic Director of the CalArts Center for New PerformanceSATE KEYNOTE MODERATOR - Travis Preston directs theater and opera throughout the world and just completed Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” for the 40th anniversary season of the Hong Kong Repertory Theater. In October, he will direct the world premiere of Center for New Performance’s production of “Fantômas: Revenge of the Image” at the Wuzhen Theater Festival in China.He was awarded Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture for “contributions to the arts in France and throughout the world.”

COREY ROSEN, VP of Creative Marketing, Tippett Studio; SATE TECHNOLOGY SEGMENT CHAIR - For Tippett Studio, a media production company specializing in high-end visual effects and animation, storyteller Corey Rosen oversees development of Themed Entertainment projects, including VR and Augmented Reality experiences.  His most recent project, “Dream of Anhui,” recently opened in Wanda Hefei Movie. Rosen has written for Lucasfilm, Jim Henson Productions, and Comedy Central. As a VFX artist, his credits include Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Rosen also hosts “The Moth” story slam series in the San Francisco Bay Area.

DAVID RUZICKA, Creative Writer & Director, Gryffon Creations LLC - Interactive storytelling specialist David Ruzicka is experienced in writing, directing, and design management for Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios Orlando, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, The Bezark Company, Kennedy Space Center, Apptivations, Motiongate Dubai, and others. David formed his first themed entertainment company at age 14, and currently works with immersive theater companies such as JFI Productions (CreepLA/The Willows) to develop new original experiences and brand-partnered experiential marketing. A former Events Production employee for Disney World and Universal Orlando, he understands how to balance feasibility and imagination.

CYNTHIA SHARPE, Principal, Cultural Attractions and Research, Thinkwell Group - Cynthia ran away from life as an academic research scientist, and now has 20+ years of creative direction and research in exhibits, zoos, aquariums, theme parks, theatre, corporate centers, and live events. Prior to joining Thinkwell, working at MSI Chicago she fell in love with the world of cultural attractions. She has spoken extensively on issues around technology, access, innovation, and design at IAAPA, ASTC, AAM, and SATE. A past member of the IAAPA Museum and Science Center Committee, Cynthia currently serves on the TEA Eastern Division Board.

JON SNODDY, Senior Vice President, Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development Studio - In his role for WDI, Jon Snoddy oversees a group of artists, designers, and engineers working to invent the future of theme parks. Jon also leads Disney Research, an organization of researchers around the globe who push science and technology forward across the entire company. Jon and his team work on new immersive special effects, interactive characters, Audio-Animatronics® figures, machine learning, sustainable design practices, collaborative tools, and anything else they can dream up. Through these innovations, they seek to surprise and delight millions of Disney guests around the world.

JOHN SPENCER, Outer Space Architect, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Mars World Enterprises - For the past 30 years John Spencer has been pioneering the field of outer space architecture. Three man-rated projects he worked on have flown in space. He founded the Space Tourism Society (STS) and is currently designing a real orbital super yacht. Since the early 1980s he has also pioneered immersive experiences for real estate ventures with a space/future theme. He created and is designing the proposed $2B mixed-use resort/attraction, Mars World (a future city on Mars), for Las Vegas and Shanghai. John’s motto: “It’s Not Science Fiction. It’s Science Future.”

STEVE TEIG, Chief Technology Officer, Xperi - Leading strategy and machine learning at Xperi, technologist and entrepreneur Steve Teig has been CTO of three software companies, two biotech companies, and a semiconductor company; two went public during his tenure, two were acquired, and one is a Fortune 500 company. He has invented influential technologies in areas ranging from chip design and computer architecture to pharmaceutical discovery and machine learning. Steve received a World Technology Award and an Edison Award in 2011. He is an inventor on 315 US patents. He holds a BSE in EECS from Princeton University.

JEFF TUCKER, Show Writer, Knott's Berry Farm - Jeff Tucker has been in the theme park industry for over 20 years. As a member of the creative team at Knott’s Berry Farm, he has been involved in the creation of numerous iconic shows and attractions, including shows for Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, cowboys and Christmas elves. For the legendary Knott’s Scary Farm event he has been involved in The Hanging, Possessed and the groundbreaking attraction “Trapped” that helped to usher in the current wave of Escape Rooms. Jeff hosts his own podcast, “91 Reasons,” and has published five novels.

DAREN ULMER, President/Founder, Mousetrappe - Daren oversees creative and technical disciplines for all complex media-based projects at Mousetrappe. For over 25 years, Ulmer has been a key contributor to the experiential attractions and entertainment industry with a solid reputation for problem solving ahead of the curve and empowering project directors to use media in ways they may not have known were possible. Recent highlights in Daren’s career are "Flying Dreams" (Ferrari Land, PortAventura), Space Shuttle Atlantis (Kennedy Space Center) and "Beyond All Boundaries" (National WWII Museum). Other clients include Disney, Universal Studios, SeaWorld Parks and Harrah’s Entertainment.

BRENT YOUNG, President & Creative Director, Super 78 - Brent Young heads a design and production studio (Super 78) that creates award-winning entertainment and educational experiences for destinations worldwide, including Universal Studios Singapore, Busch Gardens, Movie Park Germany, and China’s OCT Parks. Brent also leads the development of groundbreaking digital and VR technology for powerful new creative tools and unforgettable guest experiences. Most recently, Young was creative director for “Wings Over Washington,” the new “cultural entertainment” Flying Theater attraction at Seattle’s Miner’s Landing, and “Reef Rescue VR,” a multi-player VR experience debuting this November at New Orleans’ Audubon Aquarium.

JOHN ZALLER, Senior Creative Director, Imagine Exhibitions - Writer, visual artist, and 17-year veteran of exhibitions and immersive, themed design, John Zaller transforms the written word into visitor-focused, immersive experiences. He captures the essence of collections, brands, and multi-layered messages, and distills them into clear and comprehensive narratives. He and his design team strike a balance between nuance and halo moments to create experiences in which narrative, scenic design and technology all serve one another. John’s work has been integral to more than 20 traveling exhibitions and one Thea-awarded project. Recently, he led creative development of Jurassic World: The Exhibition and Real Bodies.

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Posted by Judith Rubin



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