TEDx Vancouver: Ideas Worth Spreading

TED brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives in less than 18 minutes. Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, ‘ideas worth spreading,’ the TEDx program gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences that are coordinated independently at the local level. TEDx Vancouver, in its third year, took place this past weekend at the Chan Centre. Digital Design students, Amie Bennett and Juan Martinezguerra were fortunate enough to create many of the conference materials — from motion graphics speaker intros to origami name tags.

In mid-July, the TEDx Vancouver organizers presented a brief to our Digital Design students, who were about to embark on their graduate projects. TEDx was seeking proposals to enhance the 2011 conference experience for attendees and followers. The brief began with a quote from Carl Sagan — “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.’ This beautifully summarized the concept for this year’s TEDx Vancouver event— The Frontier — a topic reflecting our unrelenting effort to push all boundaries. Other topics related to this year’s concept were Exploration, Expansion and Reciprocity.

Amie and Juan accepted the challenge and embarked on a 4-month creative mission that involved extensive collaboration with the TEDx Vancouver volunteer team, which included industry professionals from companies such as Electronic Arts, Blast Radius/Academy and FCV Technologies, among others. It was an immersive learning opportunity, working with a fabulous real-world client for their graduate projects, that culminated in a series of deliverables that added dimension and vibrancy to the conference.

Amie created a series of motion graphics bumpers that introduced each speaker. “I was inspired by TEDx Vancouver’s art direction and felt that I could create graphics that would supplement their theme, while still showing off my own creativity,” said Amie. She presented three initial concept directions and then iterated upon the chosen one to ultimately deliver the 25 speaker bumpers. Amie really took the theme of ‘The Frontier’ to heart, and animated the logo’s “grid” to reveal each speaker’s name. The following video shows Amie’s final result and the process she went through to achieve it.

Juan created origami name tags conference attendees could interact with to fold into an ‘explorer’ spaceship. Juan also concepted a larger way to engage attendees and followers during and after the conference through the expansion of the “cluster of ideas worth spreading.” While the approach wasn’t able to be implemented in its entirety, the TEDx Vancouver team are looking for ways to fully implement it next year. When asked why he chose to work with TEDx Vancouver, Juan said, “Exploring my own frontier was what brought me to the Digital Design program at VFS in the first place. This was an obvious choice.” To view Juan’s project concepts and designs in depth, please visit the Showcase.

The conference was a tremendous success and everyone at VFS, students and faculty alike, are very proud of Amie and Juan. And we’re not the only ones. Here’s a lovely quote that Michael Smit and Ahsan Nanji sent…

“On behalf of the TEDx Vancouver team, it was a pleasure to partner with VFS and to have Amie and Juan collaborate with our creative and planning teams. Both Amie and Juan demonstrated exceptional professionalism, an eye for detail, and a strong understanding of the creative process. Amie’s visual design and motion graphics bumpers helped connect the theme of The Frontier with the speakers throughout the course of the day. Juan took the idea of The Frontier and crafted a unique approach to conference name cards — staying true to the brand identity of The Frontier by giving every attendee the opportunity to interact and explore with a compelling origami execution.

Their dedication and ability to add significant value to an experienced creative team was very appreciated. As we know, with a volunteer effort as large as TEDx, there are a significant number of moving pieces, and the accountability and ownership of the VFS team was very appreciated.”

I recently sat down with Amie and Juan in a Q&A session so they could share more insights about their experience and process with you.


Why did you choose to work on the TEDx Vancouver project? What are your career goals and how did it support them?

Once I graduate, I would like to pursue a career in motion graphics for film or television. In particular, creating broadcast graphics for television promos and movie trailers are some of the projects I would love to be involved with. When I was given the opportunity to work with TEDx Vancouver and create a conference graphics package for them, I felt it was an initiative that would align well with my career goals, and would be a fun project.

What was the conceptual inspiration for your motion graphic speaker intro bumpers based on the theme of The Frontier?

We were given guidelines to work within for this project. In particular, The Frontier was the established theme for the conference this year. I thought that it would be interesting to take the grid-pattern logo they were using, and push it further. I played around with several different concepts, including breaking the logo down into its basic elements, and animating it with text enmeshed within it.

How did it feel to be part of the TEDx Vancouver experience?

It was great to have the chance to work with a real-world client, as well as the professionals working in the industry at Academy.  I was able to get valuable feedback on my work, and experience, first-hand, the workflows and timelines of working in the industry.

What was the most rewarding part of the collaboration?

It was really exciting to be able to see my work being used, projected onto a 32 foot screen in front of over 1,000 people!

What were the biggest challenges?

I found it sometimes challenging to have to work within specific guidelines. When you aren’t working for a real client, you get complete freedom and control over your work and the direction in which it goes. While this was one of the challenges to this project, I also found it was helpful in pushing my ideas further.

Who was your favourite speaker at the event? 

All of the speakers were great, but the one that sticks out in my mind is Jer Thorp. He gave a very stimulating talk on data visualizations. Some of the algorithms and visualizations he created were amazing! It was an interesting combination of science, art, and design.



Why did you choose to work on the TEDx Vancouver project? What are your career goals and how did it support them?

TED talks have been something that have inspired me for years, and the theme of the TEDx Vancouver 2011 (The Frontier) motivated me even more. Although I am passionate about branding, I would like to develop a multidisciplinary profile as a designer, and here I saw the opportunity to work on a project where I could utilize many of the diverse skills I have developed during the Digital Design program — conceptual thinking, branding and communications, user experience, and interactive design.

What was the conceptual inspiration for your project based on the theme of The Frontier?

From my perspective, science, art and design are very much related to each other. Exploration and the expansion of The Frontier were part of the theme, so I did research on patterns of expansion in nature, expansion in exploration, and expansion in information. I found a common pattern that served as inspiration and a starting point from which to develop the concept. Since TED’s tag line is ‘ideas worth spreading’, I proposed a way to share these ideas by following the pattern.

How did it feel to be part of the TEDx Vancouver experience?

Beside the thrill of being part of something that I admire, this was a great learning experience. It is always rewarding to solve problems and to make things happen in a real project with a real client. Even when I had to assume challenges that were not anticipated, the outcome was always positive.

What was the most rewarding part of the collaboration?

The most rewarding part was seeing my design used by hundreds of people, and seeing how it enhanced their experience during the event.

What were the biggest challenges?

It was challenging to wait for answers from the organizers to technical and conceptual questions. They were a very busy team of volunteers with other commitments aside from TEDx. However, it was all part of a bigger learning experience in which I got to learn from their professionalism.

Who was your favorite speaker at the event?

I have to say, all of them were amazing, but Jer Thorp and Marcin Jakubowski‘s talks really inspired me.

A special thank you to the TEDx Vancouver team members with whom our students worked:

Ahsan Nanji President, TEDx Vancouver/Development Director, EA
Matt Mahar Consumer Experience Manager, Nike
Michael Smit VP & Managing Director, Academy — a division of Blast Radius
Mark Bulford Designer, Academy — a division of Blast Radius
Emily Leung Associate Producer, Academy — a division of Blast Radius
Rob Spofforth Creative Director, FCV Technologies
Scott Gray Director of Brand, MET Fine Printers.

Check out how this incredible work is celebrated on VFS.com.

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