TedX - think again

"Expand and Grow" expressed through light art, animated title sequence, and an authentic community driven story line.


Stage Designer and Title Sequence Animator Wes Kennison

Technical Director/Projectionist John Gray

Producer Chris Jeansonne

Composer Wes Kennison

Voices (in order of appearance) Nicole Bee, Morgan Almeida, Darron Davis, Melissa Thompson, Nick D, Mercedes Lindsey, Victoria Armstrong, Ross Armstrong

An Invocation (from the Latin verb invocare "to call on, invoke, to give") is a powerful way to get a room full of humans in tune with one another and resonating at a similar frequency.

My first ever experience with this magic happened at a Widespread Panic show in 1999 (hear it here at 1:21 in the first song on the playlist, "Divine Love take charge of my life...."). This unifying call felt like it brought the entirety of the universal energy flow that is Love into that arena room that night, and I'll never forget it. (but, with the exception of Jimmy Herring's incendiary contributions I still can't stomach Widespread Panic ­čśé)

The history of the invocation is rich and intertwined with human history in a myriad of ways, but suffice to say it's an integral part of many a cultural practice spanning thousands of years. This tradition has inspired my work with TedX since the beginning back in 2015-ish. Though I have over a decade's worth of experience in stage production as a lighting designer and lighting director in a former life, I wouldn't fancy myself a set designer per se.

Nonetheless I love doing stage design for TedX because it gives me an opportunity to fashion a unique canvas, in order to put a unique video concept on it. And in doing so align the room around a shared experience of hearing new ideas.

 For the 2023 TedX Baton Rouge show theme, "think again', I created the stage design, and then created a Title Sequence styled opening video to set the stage for the roster of speakers that  would be presenting their unique angles on their respective topics. 

"Expand and Grow" were my key words for the expression of both the stage layout and the title sequence. The set design featured 2 projectors hitting the set pieces from opposing angles, creating an interplay that made the set look like it was breathing. 

This title sequence explored the idea of the show concept, "Think Again" in a series of sound bites gathered from people who all answered the question, "What happens when you think again, what does that mean to you?". Tonally, I'm pretty happy with the result, and the room felt electric that night as it played back and everybody leaned in.

As a commercial filmmaker, the "lean-in moment" is what we're always trying to find new ways to create for viewers and clients, so it was an amazing moment to get to experience that in the room with the audience, never gets old. 

Check out this behind the scenes edit for more on how the set construction went. 

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