BTS of TEDxSydney: Pushing the Technical Boundaries of Events

Brittany Lee Waller

How often do you walk into an event like TEDxSydney and start analysing the grand scale of its technical requirements? Where you note the multiple cameras, complex lighting, stage design or flawlessly delivered audio?

It’s a simple answer, you don’t. Why? Because the mark of any great Technical Director is to create an event where everything runs absolutely seamlessly, almost unnoticed to the untrained eye.   

Innovative Production Services is the proud Technical Partner for TEDxSydney. And they should be proud, because if you’ve been to any TEDxSydney event then you know it’s a huge undertaking to produce.

TEDxSydney Godfather and Founder, Remo Giuffré, knows the complex and changing nature of the annual event too well.

“TEDxSydney is a wonderful and large moving beast that has both a very specific set of ‘needs’ that have to be met in order for it to be a success, but is also changing and adapting to markets, its audience and a constantly changing global environment. All the while TEDxSydney is run as a not-for-profit organisation and this brings many challenges when it’s time to pack up and move to a new house. In 2017 TEDxSydney successfully transitioned from its previous home at the Sydney Opera House to its new home at the International Convention Centre.”

This move was a technical challenge in its own right.

“In moving to the ICC, a much larger venue, the key design brief was to keep the room feeling intimate and personal. Innovative took the bold move to remove the venue stage entirely, carpet the floor and turn the whole floor into the stage – a very unconventional move and a design that was hit with resistance from the venue and lots of the decision makers. A circular riser was positioned on the floor for the talks and it was surrounded with seating to bring the audience right up close to the speakers,” says Brendan Sadgrove, Innovative Director.

Innovative not only technically managed the entire event, but used their ‘innovative’ thinking and design to make the technical production a key factor in the event’s success.

As an event known for unveiling new ideas, stimulating conversation and initiating connections, there are multiple factors beyond just the speakers that go into creating this environment.

“The distance between the stage at the ICC Sydney Theatre and the seats threatened to create a chasm which was in direct conflict with what we stand for,” said Susan McMahon, General Manager TEDxSydney.

“Innovative Production Services created a design for us that removed this obstacle of distance. Their design of a small circular stage (just big enough to hold TEDxSydney red circle), with intimate seating around it, provided a seamless connection between the speakers and the audience, allowing the speakers to engage directly with our members.”

Despite the demands of a new venue, Brendan retains it’s all about the people.

“Being involved with TEDxSydney for a number of years, we are aware that the most important aspect of event design is to ensure the audience remains engaged throughout the day. Delivering inspiring and creative backdrops is something we know contributes greatly to the overall effect of the day.”

“From keeping the audience focused on a tiny presenter in a massive cavernous space, making presentations large enough for all to see while not being overwhelming, facilitating band change-overs in the dark in very short timeframes, working with unique seating arrangements and angles, to deploying a completely new concept for TEDxSydney called ‘The HUB’. TEDxSydney at the ICC certainly had Innovative working to new levels of achievement.”

The incredible technical team including 15 of Innovative’s full-time staff, over 40 casual staff and contractors, along with a further 25 technical staff under Innovative’s direction added to the 138 TEDxSydney organising staff and 250 event day volunteers, who all came together to pull off a very large perfectly run event.

Like last year, we can expect to not only see the Innovative touch across the main theatre, but also the production in the 9000sqm exhibition hall space which forms The Hub. We look forward to being technically inspired by Innovative once again this year at our ICC home.

If this is just a preview of this year’s event,  then there are some seriously powerful ideas to follow. Register your interest and secure your spot for this year’s TEDxSydney

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