What 10 Years on the Tools Looks Like

Stew Burchmore has been on the TEDxSydney team since its inception in the role of Live Stream Director.

How long have you worked with TEDxSydney (“TXS”) and how did you originally get involved? I’ve been onboard from the beginning in 2010, so that’s 10 years. It all started with an Australian Broadcasting Corporation executive Lisa Hresc asking “would I like to be a part of something new & innovative”? The ABC was the foundation broadcast partner for TEDxSydney and they had a TV & Radio program called “Big Ideas”; a talks, forums & debates program that was a perfect match. So they produced and compiled “a very best of’ TEDxSydney program” from the footage we shot and broadcast it on TV & Radio.

How would you describe your role at TXS? I capture the event in the best possible manner. I like to use the analogy of an orchestra conductor. I direct 15 x LIVE cameras switched for both the room & the live stream presentation, whilst also being recorded for TEDx/TED talks to be played later on demand. The main event always entertains and excites providing great content for the live stream. The second part of the job is keeping the live stream content going continuously during the breaks for the online audience and satellite parties. These “live streamers” receive a bonus 3hrs of content which includes backstage interviews, archives of performance and talks from previous years plus in depth discussions with the speakers of the day. I get to bring it all together playing one big game of LIVE television for 9hrs.

What’s your favourite part about being on the team? The team of creatives that is the “TEDxSydney team” is one based on camaraderie, all of whom are at the top of their game, and for whom good work is its own reward. It’s a team that makes you feel very good to be a part of. Car’n the Teddies.

What’s the live event like from where you sit? I feel removed, yet very close, and have one of the best views of the event. I sit directing with a headset on inside the Outside Broadcast control van talking to a very large crew. It’s like a mobile Television Station that has octopus tentacles all over the event with a camera on each of the tentacle tips. The control room is the length of a semi trailer and the width of two, located in the loading dock behind the stage. I get to choose the shots; like when it’s time to see some close-ups of a finger with diamond ring, or when it’s time to show the whole room and reveal the light show and atmosphere, or maybe directing a camera person to chase a performer across the stage while playing a hand carved flute.

In 2019 the theme was all about legacy, what kind of legacy are you aiming to leave? The wealth of material captured over the years will be my legacy and I’m proud of that. It’s one which now includes hundreds of talks, performances, lots of “Fast Idea” segments, speaker interviews and much more. See the TEDxSydney Live Stream Archive or the archive of edited talks and performances.

Why are events like TXS important for the community to be involved in? As Remo says, TEDxSydney is a very important platform for the propagation of Australian “ideas worth spreading”. Being a part of the event usually changes the attendees thoughts and attitudes, especially regarding life issues, societal change and the future of where we live and where we’re heading. It encourages people to think.

What were some highlights for you from this year’s event? My 2019 highlights were some of the more inspiring talks, as is TEDxSydney’s want. Tom Nash who says “everybody has hurdles” and being a quad amputee DJ is not a hurdle too hard to conquer, it’s possible to DJ the decks with hooks. Yve Blake’s talk about Fangirls & how it’s OK to rush judgment, if it’s something enjoyable. And then there was Eddie Jaku holocaust survivor at age 99 confirming “Happiness is in your hands” so take time to be happy.

You must notice little things about TXS that others may not. What’s something intriguing you could share with the TXS community? There are funny bits like some of the crew names, Swampy, Phang & Hagrid, plus the ridiculous hours people work to get the show in, on & out of the venue in such a short time. TEDxSydney has grown from having a curated audience of 700 at Carriageworks to 2,500 at the Sydney Opera House and now 5,000 at the International Convention Centre, but it still holds onto the mantra of keeping it as personal as possible, nurturing the TEDxSydney community by providing a focus and impetus for conversation and debate. So it’s changed in size but still beats with the same heart, a big yet intimate one.

Image: Stew Burchmore (left) with Head of Production Stu Couzens in 2014


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