Another mind blowing year designing the TED conference

Once again I was extended the tremendous opportunity and honor to design the projection mapped scenic elements and video backdrop for TED 2012, Full Spectrum. With a mandate to include more performative and artistically challenging sessions and segments, it was a complete joy to dive into.

TED represents the highest possible bar for live production captured on camera. MODE Studios provided all of the scenic projection equipment, as well as the main presentation projection system. In the mean time I assembled a team that included Associate Designer Pablo Molina, Content Artists Steve Klems, Colton Marshall, and Programmer Josh Fleitell to provide instant onsite response to any of the myriad creative requirements.

Each session had a visual identity calculated to support the talks presented. The design took advantage of the fractal shapes onstage and in the house to project content that was more psychological or scenically evocative. The onstage rear projection drop often had a singular image for each session that could serve as the appropriate scenic ‘surround’ for the main presentations…

All of the mapped projection content was first formatted and aligned in Cinema 4D. The scenic objects were precisely, virtually modeled in the 3D draftings of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. The content ‘textures’ were then projected on the objects in Cinema 4D to allow me to visualize and adjust how they would respond in the theater.

Once onsite the mapped content was loaded into Hippotizer media servers running in Uber-Pan mode, enabling me to move content elements simply across the entire screen ‘scape… The servers, consoles, and signal routing gear was provided by MODE Studios in conjunction with our friends at Screenworks/NEP, and VER. MODE Studios Producer Colleen Bonniol assembled the entire gear spec and provided for labor (including the phenomenal lead projectionist Sean Kelly, Video System EIC Stuart Kenney, and the aforementioned Josh Fleitell).

One of the highlights was ‘pranking’ the conference. Working in conjunction with Improv Everywhere, the apparent ‘failure’ of a session talk led to an explosion of Macintosh “beachballs” as well as interpretive dancers, a flashmob, and an epic beachball drop from the balcony.

Once again it was a thrill to work with Chris Anderson, Katherine McCartney, Tom Hennes, Jeff Ravitz, Kristie Roldan, Ziska Childs, and the rest of the TED team to create an environment to host some of the most influential thinkers in our society.

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