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Exclusive: HOLOPLOT CEO on the David Hockney installation

Roman Sick, CEO of HOLOPLOT, discusses his pathway into AV, contributing to the David Hockney immersive experience, and the company’s ISE-launched rigging system

You came to the audio industry having been involved in several other businesses, can you tell us about them?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I founded my first company while still studying for my Bachelor’s degree, opening a number of design concept stores and coffee shops. Following hospitality I looked to the digital side and joined Rocket Internet, Europe’s largest startup incubator and investor. This was a fantastic experience, simply because the speed, agility and determination to grow fast was unlike anything I’d seen before. It was an exciting time, but I wanted to run my own company again – and then I met HOLOPLOT.

Tell us a little bit about your career journey and how you got into the AV business.
Entering the AV world was an interesting experience. Especially the pro audio sector is a very special, close-knit industry that has been doing things a certain way for a long time.

My degree is in economics and although music has always been a big part of my life, it was never an element of my professional endeavours. It’s certainly been a steep learning curve to understand all the elements of not just HOLOPLOT technology, but the industry itself.

I met HOLOPLOT by pure coincidence in 2013 when they were still working outside of a garage in Potsdam. At that time they only had a very small-scale prototype with very rudimentary functionality and were targeting the Hi-Fi market, frankly not very successful at the time. I was intrigued by some of the early functionalities and although it was clear that this was going to be a long journey, I was convinced of the game-changing potential. This is what really excited me. Not to just build a new loudspeaker, but to change the game of audio substantially.

Even though I wasn’t from the AV industry I knew what they’d been working on was radically dierent and when the opportunity presented itself to lead the company, I decided to give it a shot.

What drew you to sign on as HOLOPLOT CEO?
I was intrigued by the potential, as well as by the challenge of developing a radically new technology, which I’m convinced will change the world. Growing the team, setting up our headquarters in Berlin, and commercialising the product was an extremely exciting time.

I was convinced that, once we’d repackaged and optimized the technology for high SPL and large scale entertainment applications, HOLOPLOT technology was going to facilitate a new era of live entertainment.

Tell us a little bit more about what HOLOPLOT is bringing to the industry.
We have a software first approach, which means we’re constantly producing and upgrading, launching new features and adding more capabilities. These are released regularly to existing and new customers, which allows us to continuously improve our products, even after deployment in the field. A HOLOPLOT product therefore gets better over time – this is one of our important and unique value propositions to the market.

How has this been expressed in the Lightroom David Hockney immersive experience that recently opened in London?
I’ve been lucky to’ve had a peek already and I can absolutely vouch for the Hockney experience being visually astonishing and alive with sound. The sound design for the unique score was created by sound designer Gareth Fry which has been an exciting collaboration.

Lightroom is an exceptional project, harnessing the power of our technology, providing a limitless environment for artists to play within.

The system was installed by our partner Creative Technology and consists of two X1 arrays at either end of the room, entirely hidden within wall cavities, making for an unspoilt 360 degree projection surface and we look forward to sharing more details with everyone soon.

What other projects has HOLOPLOT been working on? Anything coming up you can talk about?
We recently installed an X1 system in one of the largest mosques in Africa. It sits at the heart of Egypts new capital city outside of Cairo and is due to officially be inaugurated this year.

We’re talking about a 10,000sqm marble room able to hold 12.000 worshipers. It’s an enormous scale with an extremely challenging acoustic environment. Our design proposal was compared to the best designs with conventional loudspeaker technology they had and we were not only able to show a about 80% reduction of speaker positions required, but also managed to reduce the need for acoustic absorption treatment by 50%, while increasing speech intelligibility to levels others couldn’t reach.

We also did the Beacon Theatre in New York, a beautifully ornate theatre turned live music venue with plenty of hard to reach audience areas and reflective surfaces. We deployed a classic LCR system with a HOLOPLOT twist and our unique sound control abilities ensure everyone has the same and best experience.

What can you tell us about the MSG Sphere project?
HOLOPLOT’s been working closely with MSG on delivering their vision for this live entertainment megastructure opening in Las Vegas in November 2023. The venue will provide a live entertainment space unseen before, guaranteed to raise the bar of what audiences will come to expect from an immersive entertainment experience.

Working on the Sphere has been a great opportunity to develop and frankly it challenged us quite a bit, since we were only a handful of people when it started. But I believe every major manufacturer would have been challenged by the scale and complexity of the project.

Because we started work on this project while we were growing ourselves, we were able to put the bricks in just the way they needed to be in order to deliver on something of this remarkable scale and coordination. Others may not have that flexibility anymore because they already have very established infrastructures and production workflows. This put us in the great position to now deliver on every major project in a rather short period of time.

For Sphere, we’ve been working with some of the best people in the industry, which helped us to learn in a short matter of time as well as exposed us in bare form to some of the best minds out there. That was thrilling and fun. We’re so close to the venue finally opening which will be a major validation of our technology and capabilities, but also the beginning of a new era of entertainment for which MSG had the vision to lead.

Are there new products/refinements on the way?
We’ve just returned from ISE in Barcelona which saw us officially launch our new rigging system to the European market and gave visitors a chance to get hands-on with the beta version of our new sound system design software ‘HOLOPLOT Plan’. The rigging makes our product more flexible than ever. Arrays can be built vertically and horizontally and are infinitely scalable – opening the door for X1 into both the fixed installation and rental market.