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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.

TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2013a.jpg



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.

TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2013b.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2013c.jpg



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.

TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2014a.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2014b.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2014c.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2015a.jpg



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.

TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2015c.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2015b.jpg



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.

TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2016a.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2016b.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2016c.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville 2017 (Edmond Joe)3.jpg



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.

TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2017b.jpg
TEDxCharlottesville staging through the years 2017c.jpg

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.

Nine Ways to Punch Up Your Conference


Nine 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!


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. 


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! 


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!)


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).


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!)


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.


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.


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.


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? 


Seven Ways to Make the Most of Your LED Video Wall

Seven Ways to Make the Most of Your LED Video Wall

If you've been following our goings-on lately, you know just how much we love our new LED video wall panels! We're big fans of high quality displays, stunning visuals, and versatility in a set piece, and these panels provide our clients with all that & more. (Click here for technical info on our LED walls.)

If you're interested in using an LED video wall for your next event, here are some ways that you can get the most out of your video wall and wow your attendees with an elevated experience!

#1: Dynamic content

Keep your audience engaged using dynamic video content. Yes, this is something you can also achieve with projection screens - but with the high-impact intensity that LED video walls afford, your video content can truly shine. Even during downtime in your program, ambient motion graphics can keep your audience interested and excited for what's up next. (If you need assistance creating content for your event, please don't hesitate to contact us - we'd be happy to assist you!)

Virginia Film Festival LED Video Wall with Dynamic Content
#2: Utilize Branding Assets

We've said it before, and we'll say it again - utilize your existing branding! Even when used in subtle ways, digital signage can be very impactful in driving home your brand's message. Your brand's visual identity communicates your overall mission, so it can easily help to establish the tone for your event. Our team is great at finding ways to tie branding assets into LED wall graphics, so give us a shout if you're stumped on how to achieve this!

UVA Health Systems LED Video Wall with Branding Assets
#3: High Definition Graphics

This may seem like a no-brainer, but high definition graphics make all the difference! LED video panels produce a stunning, crisp image for your audience, so make the most of it by utilizing high quality images and video content. To be specific, we prefer content to be at a resolution of 1080p or higher. The better the resolution, the more your LED wall will impress your attendees!

UVA Arts Bryan Cranston LED Video Wall Panels with HD Graphics
#4: Get Playful

Our LED video wall panels can be configured in any number of ways, so take advantage of their flexibility and have some fun! Lay out the video wall in any way you like. And don't worry about how your content will read - our designers will help you create content that makes the most of your unique panel configuration.

TEDxCharlottesville LED Video Wall Configuration
#5: Light Your Space

Because our LED panels are so bright, you can use the best lighting conditions for your attendees without worrying about it impacting the display. When using projection screens, the light in the space must be kept low so that the projected image doesn't get washed out. But with our LED video walls, you can feel free to keep the lights up, allowing your attendees to take better notes, move about more easily, and stay alert (we all know what effect a dark room has during that post-lunch energy dip!)

RWDevCon LED Video Wall with Full Lighting
#6: Speaker Placement

Be aware of where your speakers will be standing, and if they'll be placed in front of your LED video wall. Video walls can provide a great backdrop for speakers, but too much contrast between the graphics and the speaker is bad for visibility, especially in photos and recordings. For example, if you place a speaker in dark clothing in front of an LED wall that has mostly white imagery on it, the white light from the LED wall will make it difficult to see the speaker's face. (This is one we've learned from experience - don't make the same mistake we did!)

As you can see here, the white light behind the speaker compromises the image.

As you can see here, the white light behind the speaker compromises the image.

But here, where the LED content is darker, the image of the speaker is crisp & clear.

But here, where the LED content is darker, the image of the speaker is crisp & clear.

#7: Set the Scene

And lastly, use your LED video wall to create a set, like you would create for a theatrical show. LED walls are impressive in their own right due to their high quality displays, but you can also use the scale of your LED wall to raise the production value of your stage set. Integrate your LED video wall with other set elements, perhaps even disguising it to achieve a bigger moment of impact when you reveal it at an opportune moment! 

UVA All Sports Hoos Choice Awards with LED Video Walls
Main Street Arena Twenties Party with LED Wall Columns

There are so many unique and interesting ways to use LED walls as part of a staging composition, and we'd love to help you find the perfect strategy for your event! Our multi-faceted tech & design team is waiting to help you knock your next event out of the park!