Communicating LEGACY through Design, Lighting and Sound | A look at TEDx Sydney

We recently had the pleasure of attending TEDxSydney 2019 at ICC Sydney, as guests of Innovative Production Services who provided all Audio Visual & Production Services for the event. Celebrating their 10-year anniversary, the theme for this year’s TEDx was LEGACY. This prompted Innovative Production Services to ask themselves what their LEGACY would be for this momentous event.
Join us as we take a look at how Innovative Production Services Directors Brendan Sadgrove and Jeremy Koch and their team helped TEDxSydney communicate the theme of legacy through clever design, lighting and sound – and how, in the process they came to impart their own legacy on the event….

Communicating the Event Brand

Innovative Production Services ensured the theme and “brand” of the event, LEGACY, was immediately clear to the audience as soon as they entered the theatre. Centre stage was bold LED letter tiles spelling out the word LEGACY. 
The clever lettering was designed to display digital video content that connected to each speaker’s story. The lettering set the tone of the event, communicated key messages and was a strong presence that defined the space. It took the audience on a constant journey and featured in nearly every photo of the day. This meant the brand and theme of the event was amplified across all social media platforms.

Communicating Legacy Brand with LED Letters

Creating Intimacy for 5000 Guests 

Since moving from the Opera House in 2017, one of the challenges that the Innovative Production Services team has faced is working with a much larger venue whilst keeping the room intimate and personal. Through clever use of screens, set design and lighting, they created a level of intimacy that was truly impressive. There were 5000 attendees in the theatre, but it felt as if the speakers were talking just to you…

Creating Intimacy for 9000 guests at ICC Sydney

Impressively, they were even able to create this effect for a speaker who was not in the room. For the first time ever at a TEDx event, they featured a speaker who wasn’t in the room. Novelist and journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been on Manus Island for over 6 years, was filmed prior to the event in a black room from different dynamic angles. This type of filming held such power on the screens as if you could reach out and bring him into the theatre. His story was an act of resistance, a person so far away in location and life, yet so close to the emotions of the attendees on the day.
The small circular stage, suitable for just one speaker allowed seating to be circled closely around it. This meant the audience was able to get up close and personal and it bridged the chasm of space between performer and audience. 

TEDxSydney Stage Design
The sweeping audience shots from the camera conveyed this feeling of intimacy to those watching from home, work or multiple live sites across the country, an important move for camera shots on the live stream. TEDx is about connection and ideas and this stage design removed the obstacle of distance and created a seamless connection. 
“The combination of these two design elements (flawlessly executed) created a distinct feeling of intimacy in this very large venue and was critical to the event's success." 
Remo Giuffré Founder & Licensee, TEDxSydney

Sustainable Design

Innovative Production Services wanted one of their legacies on the day to be sustainability. To do this they took the initial unconventional move to remove the venue stage entirely, which would usually be covered in new carpet each year and then thrown out post-event - a huge waste! 
Their other huge environmental decision was to use 5 environmentally friendly laser projector screens that curved and reached around the audience. These screens are encased by renewable aluminium frames that can be built to fit any stage size. 
These screens allowed drama to unfold on stage and created a sense of real theatre that didn’t detract or overpower the speakers, performances or short films. They brought the words of the speakers and performers to life and the visual content displayed was seamless.

Sustainable designed screens | Innovative Production Services

Enhancing the Speaker’s Stories

Stories can change us, change our mood and our opinions; stories make us human. The lighting and sound at TEDxSydney 2019 transported the audience into a different space and another world bringing stories to life and provoking the senses. There were many instances where the lighting and sound were used to enhance the experience of the story teller.
Albert Wiggan’s talk implored the impacts of politics and economics on our environments demise. As the audience became more engrained in his story, the LED legacy letter tiles slowly faded into a pale blue light as if being extinguished like the dying earth of our land. Subtle and moving, it created a beautiful connection to the story being told. 
One of the most moving moments was when Koori Violinist and vocalist Eric Avery gave a music performance with his father beside him on a didgeridoo. The audience was entirely wrapped within red ambient lighting whilst the performers were under a sole white spotlight. The lighting was dark, harrowing and encapsulated the audience to draw them into the story. 
To have the understanding and feeling for Eddie Jaku’s story was pure genius. As a holocaust survivor, the stage lighting allowed him to stand strong and alone as he delivered his story to a standing ovation. Creative use of lighting overhead, as well strip lighting on the stage and floor created an immersive space where the speaker and the audience could connect. 

Innovative Production Services | Lighting

The Innovative Team 

During TEDxSydney2019  we were lucky enough to have a backstage tour with Jeremy to see how the event was brought to life. It was clear why Innovative Production Services is such a success - they are a team of united and passionate experts with hearts for the event and each other. 
Not only did everyone have a full day bump in and a full day rehearsal before the show, they even set up a baby stage with full stage lights in the foyer for presenter rehearsals. 
Everyone was tightly integrated in the production of the event, from audio, lighting and staging; leaders Brendan and Jeremy helped their team work as one. 
Brendan said “We absolutely love this event and we put a lot of love and energy into it. Hopefully it shows through the role AV plays in events like this; helping the audience in the room and watching the broadcast engage with the speaker or performer on stage.”

The day was truly inspiring and an extraordinary journey. Thank you Innovative Production Services, for an incredible day. 

A few quick production facts about the event: 

1 x full day bump in 
1 x full day rehearsals 
3 x broadcast trucks 
15 x full-time Innovative staff 
40 x contractors 
138 x TEDx Sydney Staff 
400 x TEDx Volunteers 
5 x 32,000 lumens laser projectors 
2 million+ active pixels on screen 

IMAGES: Provided by TEDxSydney's community of photographers via Flickr.

Interested to learn HOW TEDxSydney source their line up of fabulous speakers? Check out this article for some tips you can apply yourself: How to Source Great Speakers for your Events - Tips from TEDx