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OUR STORY

As many stories go, our group of multidisciplinary industry leaders came together to solve a glaring shortcoming in the current virtual production landscape. There’s currently no true cinematic standard across the industry. It’s a fragmented veritable Wild West of various stages, consultants, engineers, and artists. We encourage our fellow filmmakers to embrace virtual production as a collaborative, story-enabling tool.

At Synapse, we believe in systems, not products.

True service of a vision, not commodities. Mentorship, Education, and industry evolution. 

Virtual production is a new technology consisting of multiple complex and interconnected moving parts. We understand this process can be intimidating to newcomers to this technology. And it is because of this that Synapse takes a holistic approach, offering a curated umbrella of services that safeguards our clients, shepherding them through the entire process. This begins with the bidding process, breaking down the storytelling needs, continues to the development of art and environmental assets through the on-set photography, and finally manages any and all needs during post production.

THE TEAM

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Justin Diener

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

For over the past two decades, Justin has worked as an award-winning executive & line producer on feature films, music videos, commercials and branded content for some of the biggest global companies such as Paramount, Universal, Google, Pepsi, Anonymous Content and Caviar and collaborating with A-List directors the likes of Peter Berg, Doug Liman, Antoine Fuqua, Francis Lawrence, Ruben Fleischer, Marc Webb and more. A co-founder of the 360 media house Drive Studios, which mounts not only physical productions, but also taps into the visual effects, post production, live-event, AR and VR markets, as well as virtual production technologies. Justin’s cultivated history of team leadership is reflected through his success with the world’s largest production companies, creative agencies and studios.

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Aaron Gordon

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Founder and CEO of the forward-looking technology innovation firm, Optic Sky Productions, Aaron built a global team of award-winning directors, digital artists, storytellers, producers, and creative technologists that has reaped double & triple-digit growth each year. He has spearheaded projects for Google, Amazon, Wegmans, Zillow, Zeplin, and many other globally-recognized agencies, winning accolades from the American Advertising Awards, Webby Awards and The One Show. Aaron has also dedicated much of his focus into education and helped nurture the next generation of filmmakers by positioning them in the bleeding edge technologies our industry is undoubtedly moving toward. Toward that end, Optic Sky partnered with Rochester Institute of Technology to create one of the first Virtual Production curriculums in the country.

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Louise Baker Lee

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PREVIS/VAD/VFX

Louise heads up the visualization arm of Synapse, drawing on many years of experience in previs and VFX. Her filmmaking career began at the pioneering previsualization companies, Pixel Liberation Front (PLF), and Proof, Inc., where she supervised previs teams for blockbuster films such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Green Hornet, Transformers, and The Hunger Games. In her role as Head of Creative at Drive Studios, Louise worked on project and tech development, and led teams of VFX and VAD artists for everything from music videos and commercials to feature films, including Universal Pictures’ upcoming release War of the Worlds.

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Tyler Burr

HEAD OF FINANCIAL OPERATIONS

Tyler is the co-founder and head of operations at Syzygy, an accounting firm that supports clients in the Media & Advertising industry. With a hybrid finance and operations background across film, television, and advertising, Tyler has guided dozens of media start-ups through their initial start-up, early growth, and maturity. Tyler supports Synapse's accounting and finance department by identifying sustainable systems and processes to support thoughtful and strategic business intelligence.

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Rich Lee

CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER

With 30 years experience in the entertainment industry, Rich is an award-winning director and visual effects innovator who brings his distinct storytelling sensibilities to solving technical/visual challenges with his vast knowledge of physical and post production disciplines. Hailing from a background in previs and visual effects – having supervised the previz on such Hollywood tentpole productions as Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 & 3, I Am Legend, Constantine and Minority Report – Rich’s directorial work is noted for its visual creativity and his unique ability to adapt those skills while humanizing the storytelling. Rich recently completed work on the feature film, War of the Worlds, and has helmed television series such as Limitless for CBS and Netflix’s The Society. He also boasts an extensive body of work in commercials for companies such as Amazon, Honda, and Beats, as well as music videos for such esteemed artists as Billie Eilish, Eminem, Maroon 5, and Rihanna.

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Duke DuQuesnay

CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER

A veritable Jack of all trades, Duke has more than 20 years working within nearly every sector in the film industry, with a heavy emphasis in visual effects. At Hydraulx, he served as the company’s internal director for visual effects element shoots films like The Avengers, Avatar, Iron Man, Snow White and the Huntsmen and San Andreas and television shows such as Stranger Things and also oversaw the creation of their camera department, including managing over a dozen camera systems, 3D rigs, and multitudes of lenses and sundry filmmaking hardware. Similarly, Duke has designed various bespoke rigs utilized in VR, AR, and volumetric capture for virtual production applications.

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Alisa Chieves

HEAD OF PRODUCTION

Prior to joining Synapse, ALISA spent 15 years at Viacom/Paramount and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Production across 11 of Viacom's flagship brands. Alisa is an architect of several first-of-their kind content eco systems including the launch of Viacom Digital Studios as well as an Emmy Award winning Executive producer with a wide range of format expertise.

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Emily Haldeman

VIRTUAL PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR

As a lead on-set virtual production supervisor, Emily brings with her battle-tested expertise in volume workflow creation and Unreal operation. She has been an integral team member in the build-out of multiple VP volume stages – overseeing both the hardware setup and optimization, as well as streamlining several bespoke software toolsets and workflows – and has helped create Synapse’s iconic “Eye in the Sky” remote support system. Emily also was a critical contributor to creating Rochester Institute of Technology’s virtual production curriculum and currently lectures on not only VP, but AR, and VR technologies as well.

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Christopher Probst, ASC

CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER

Christopher is an award-winning cinematographer and former technical editor of American Cinematographer magazine. And aside for his ASC-nominated work for director David Fincher’s Netflix series, Mindhunter, he has photographed hundreds of commercials for clients such as Nike, Google, BMW, Samsung, Audi, Adidas, and Uber, as well as music videos for artists like Ariana Grande, Jay Z, Muse, Lana Del Rey, Eminem, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish. Christopher has a unique ability to leverage his encyclopedic technical skills to envisage and innovate next-level uses and techniques in the virtual production arena. He also recently co-authored the book, The Cine Lens Manual, a definitive treatise of cine optics.

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Geoff Knight

CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER

Geoff brings with him an extensive background in physical production, having worked in multiple entertainment sectors – from a Hollywood lighting director and chief lighting technician to the director of physical production for Madison Square Garden and the Sphere project – to deploy technically complex systems (across five continents) for the last two decades. Before joining Synapse, Geoff previously collaborated on multiple Emmy award-winning productions with Riot Games and worked on feature films such as Oz the Great and Powerful, Pitch Perfect 3, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Disney, Universal, Cirque du Soleil, NHL, NFL, NBA, CJ E&M, Nintendo, Blizzard, and Epic Games.

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Chris Walters, CPA

HEAD OF FINANCE

& ACCOUNTING

Chris is the co-founder and head of finance at Syzygy, an accounting firm that supports clients in the Media & Advertising industry. She's a CPA who has worked in internal and external audit, small business and corporate accounting, operations, financial systems implementation, and IT systems management. Most of Chris's experience is in the entertainment industry, but she has also spent time working with nonprofit organizations and education institutions. She oversees Synapse's accounting department and supervises the finance and accounting function.

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Tim Stringer

VIRTUAL PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR

Another of our on-set lead virtual production supervisors, Tim's comprehensive knowledge of Virtual Production stems from his years of experience working with and teaching Unreal Engine. His extensive background in optimizing and operating multiple ICVFX volumes enables him to create custom tools that allow production teams to adopt a technically complex workflow with ease. He helped create the first Virtual Production curriculum for the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and continues to teach courses in virtual and augmented reality experiences. Tim has led development teams for industry-leading projects for platforms like Snapchat and Meta and works for Epic Games as a mentor in their fellowship programs.

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