From Then to Now: TEDxCharlottesville

From Then to Now: TEDxCharlottesville

There are some events, conferences, & festivals in our portfolio that we are lucky enough to get to work on as they develop from year to year. One of our favorites is our local TEDxCharlottesville event! This is such an important event in our community and the speakers are always top-notch, so it's a welcome annual challenge to design an interesting stage set that serves this event's functions while helping to enhance the theme or underlying tone of the day's presentations.

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2013

For TEDxCharlottesville's first year, we kept the staging rather minimalist & clean. This was our first go at projection mapping, so we went with some simple vertical rectangles to project content onto, and splashed colorful lighting onto the backdrop to create an engaging tableau.

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2014

The next year, we took the projection mapping up a notch, using Wafer panels from Atomic Design to fill the stage and create a showstopping, high-impact backdrop. Jonah Tobias, a local animator & leader of the TEDxCharlottesville design committee, created beautiful projection content that complemented the tone of each talk.

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2015

In its third year, we took a nod from the poster artwork, creating a more literal representation of the event's branding. We built custom set pieces from pipe and acrylic shapes, onto which we projected the speakers faces along with ambient content. We also used three projection screens to accommodate speaker content while keeping informational slides visible during each talk.

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2016

In 2016, we switched it up and used our Absen LED panels instead of projection & screens. We placed one large LED wall with picture-in-picture graphics in the center of the stage, and used additional LED panels to construct realistic-looking "wooden" stage decor.

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2017

Finally, this year we went back to basics with a single projection screen and two analog sculptural set pieces. The structure of the set pieces was an exact replication of this year's branding illustrations, and the pieces made a strong statement among an otherwise pared-down stage set.

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We're honored to have assisted with this event since its inception, and our long-standing relationship & close connection to the show allow us to create innovative sets while maintaining a thread of stylistic continuity from year to year.

The "Run Of Show"

The "Run Of Show"

A "run of show" is a tool that we use for almost every event. It is a way of simplifying and distilling information that is essential to running a live show. At its core, a run of show is a document that lays out the timing, program, and content for each moment of an event. These documents help us to keep shows of all scales running smoothly. 

Run of Show Document

Big moments are important, but the small moments & transitions between them can make all the difference - and each second of screen time or audio is significant. This is why we have experienced content managers & show directors to lead our on-site teams, and these run of show documents help us to work together with a clear understanding of the event.

RWDevCon Westin Alexandria backstage

They also help us to collaborate with clients and clarify details of the schedule so that their team members are informed, prepared, and confident. 

TEDxCharlottesville backstage

To help you build a run of show for your event, we've put together a template that you can use as a jumping off point! In this Excel document, you'll find a blank template spreadsheet and some general instructions to help you get started, as well as an example spreadsheet to give you an idea of how it might be used or filled out.

If you have any questions, or if you need assistance creating a run of show for your upcoming event, please reach out and we'd be happy to assist you!

9 Ways to Punch Up Your Conference

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9 Ways to Punch Up Your Conference

When it comes to conferences, especially recurring ones, it can be difficult to find ways to excite your attendees and inspire enthusiasm time and time again. Perhaps you've even fallen into the trap of repeating every element of an event from year to year, simply because it worked the last time. If you're searching for ways to bring your next event up a level, here are nine tactics you can use to punch up your conference!

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For starters, you'll want to make sure that the person hosting your event is lively and engaging. Try to choose someone with a natural stage presence who feels comfortable speaking to your audience as a friend or mentor. 

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Audience participation can mean polling your audience or requesting questions for Q&A's, but it can also mean fun activities like games and raffles! We frequently use UMU for audience participation - it is easy for attendees to interact with on mobile devices, comes with lots of templates for fun interactions, and provides you with a great interface to show onscreen! 

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One way to get your attendees excited is with dynamic, concert-like lighting & atmospherics! Use it to open your day, or to give emphasis to key moments or entrances. (And as a plus, it'll make your speakers feel like rock stars!)

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Pair an LED video wall with some exciting video content, and you've got yourself one impressed audience! Click here to learn more about our video walls, or check out last month's blog post to see some of the other benefits of using an LED wall for your event (Seven Ways to Make the Most of Your Video Wall).

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Nothing brings a drifting audience back like an exercise break. Especially effective in the mid-afternoon, exercise breaks can help to alleviate fatigue and get attendees re-engaged, whether it's with a few jumping jacks or a whole five-minute dance party. (Bonus points if you bring in an expert to teach a new exercise technique!)

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High production value can make the difference between a "blah" conference and a "so when's the next one?!" conference. Details like discreet wireless microphones, assigning backstage runners to attend to speakers, and having content managers to handle on-screen transitions allows your event to run seamlessly, like a show. Producing your event in this way can provide your attendees with an elevated experience that makes them feel valued and excited for what comes next.

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As much as we love the flexibility that digital screens give us, there's no denying the impact of a visually interesting physical set piece. Whether it's simple or detailed, big or small(ish), a physical set can be impactful in a unique way that is hard to replicate with digital media.

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Bringing back those concert-like vibes! Image magnification, or IMAG, means having a close-up view of your presenters shown on screen. This increases visibility for attendees who are farther away, and helps them to stay engaged.

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Big finishes are often underrated! Use the last moments of your event to make a splash (this may be where that dance party comes in!), and keep attendees talking about your conference even after they've left!

 

Thinking about using any of these ideas for your next event, but not sure where to start? 

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