Cisco GSX FY17

Bart Nagel
(Bart Nagel)

Cisco GSXFY17 was an 18,000+ attendee conference for Cisco’s global sales force. Cisco’s challenge was to continue to motivate and inspire a sales team who already sat at the top of the industry, not only to keep their forward momentum, but to move into a higher gear, to break barriers, to go faster than ever before, to leave the competition behind. This objective was illustrated in the conference theme: Full Speed. The goal was to design a Global Session that communicated this message, both visually and thematically, recreating this motion on a large scale, and telling a coherent story that tied in every component in a meaningful way.

After 18,000 attendees take their seats in the MGM Grand Arena, rapper Lyrics Born amps up attendees, accompanied by an R&B singer, and hip hop dancers, followed by Butterscotch, playing her acoustic guitar over loops, singing and beatboxing simultaneously.

Lyrics Born and Butterscotch then take the stage together. In a lyrical, rhythmic rap, Lyrics Born instructs attendees to take out their phones and open the conference app, playfully but effectively coaching 18,000 attendees to follow instructions…one of the most challenging aspects of a live event. The lights go down, the audience is left in darkened silence, with only the glow of thousands of swaying mobile phone screens visible.

A single voice comes over the PA, as the image of a man plays across every mobile device held aloft. Astronaut Mark Kelly talks about traveling faster than sound, hurtling into space. His tone has an intimate, conversational quality, as he seemingly speaks to each attendee directly, from the palm of their hand. As he talks about seeing things from a whole new perspective, fog screens shooting down above stage act as projection surfaces for black and white imagery evoking speed computations and engineering schematics, a holographic hint of what’s to come, and a representation of the transitory opportunity at hand.

Bart Nagel


A low rumble builds, growing slowly louder. As Mark Kelly’s final words hang in the air–“Because if you’re not moving at full speed, you’re not going anywhere”–the sound grows to a roar, phone screens start flashing. The sound pauses, the lights go out, and…

…An audio-spatial, seat-shaking sonic boom flies through the room, rocking the crowd, and the entire arena erupts in flashing lights as every one of the 18,000 lanyards around attendees’ necks begins pulsating with color. Previously, the audience had no idea that they would be part of the show itself, that the most mundane conference item, a lanyard, could surprise on such a massive scale.

Seconds later, electronic music pumps, while high powered lasers shoot up from the stage scanning the audience, while overhead lasers dance patterns across stage, and a multitude of moving light fixtures flash and oscillate. Four double-sided curved screens slowly descend out of the fog, revealing the second segment of the opening video, a rapid compilation of speed evocative imagery. The entire arena is alive in pulsating color and sound, engulfing the audience in a sensory-exciting experiential representation of Full Speed.

Bart Nagel


The music builds, then ends, as the video resolves into the conference graphic, a visual depiction of a sine wave and sonic boom, reading: Full Speed.

Every element was designed to make the message, Full Speed, an imperative. The technically complicated opening was choreographed to the second, over 2.5 minutes. The intensity with which the opening elements moved brought the theme to life, echoing Mark Kelly’s words about executing at 25,000mph, engaging the audience in a fully immersive experience, shifting their expectations and setting the tone for the conference.

All elements continued to be utilized throughout the conference to support content.

  • Cisco Systems – Client
  • Tencue – Design and Production
  • Hot Rod Shop – Scenic
  • LMG – Audio / Video
  • Radius – Lighting
  • Vegas Rigg - Rigging
  • Remedy Editorial – Opening Video
  • Ruskhouse Inc. – Sound Design
  • Offline – Mobile Video Distribution
  • Xylobands – LED Lanyards
  • Perspective Labs – Conference Graphics


  • 275,000 SqFt arena
  • 18,000 attendees
  • 4 curved 16' high x 53' wide blended and warped, double-sided screens
  • 16 20k projector stacks
  • 162 feet of Fog Screen (largest installment ever)
  • 400 high power lasers
  • 18,000 person distributed, mobile video mobile utilizing high frequency audio trigger (the sonic boom)
  • 18,000 programmable RF triggered LED lanyards (largest implementation ever)
  • 32' diameter turntable

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