Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Behind the scenes at IOD EMEA 2010

Earlier this week the Press Relations (Blogging Relations?) team arranged for a few of us to meet with Evan Michaels, who works for the George P. Johnson production team as the creative director behind the look and feel of the graphics, signage, and displays at the IOD EMEA 2010 conference, as well as the opening video from the Day 1 General Session (see embedded video below).

He described the work that went into coming up with the concepts and visuals for the event, a process that started last October and continued over several months to arrive at the finished product that we saw throughout the site and on the stage.  

As someone whose day job is to try to come up with a compelling way of tying together and relating the "information and analytics" concept, I know first hand just how hard it can be.  Evan explained the time and effort that went into distilling the complex, interrelated concepts of data, content, and analytics into a simple concept and visual.  As those of you who were at the conference saw, the result was the swirl that represents the information we have inside of us, that interacts and weaves its way through us and everything we do.

For those of you who weren't able to join us, as the attendees entered the auditorium for the opening general session, they saw themselves reflected back on screen, as mirror images of the entire auditorium were projected back across each of the 100 ft (30m) wide screens.  As we took our seats in the audience, little thought bubbles featuring tags representative of different aspects of the Smarter Planet appeared over our heads.  Again, this was designed to demonstrate the information that is inside of us, a point reinforced by the narration of the opening video, which began by asking us to look to the person next to us, before taking us on a whirlwind tour through the city of Rome, bursting out of the conference hotel and following the swirling ribbon of information that wove in front of and behind the people, buildings and monuments of the city, before returning back and opening into the room we were in.

Having watched the effects and video several times in rehearsals leading up to the session, not to mention with a full auditorium that morning, I have to say that it continued to be an impressive display.  In case you're wondering about some of the technology behind it, the "reflection" on the screens was courtesy of three high-definition webcams attached below each of the screens.  As for the video, Evan explained that it was shot using a Canon 5D Camera, which made it easier for them to work with when digitally weaving in the swirl effects.

I was curious how, when all of the production had to be done off site, they were able to make sure everything would in the room - things like coordinating the mirror effect across the three separate screens, or making sure the thought clouds would actually line up with the audience and the aisles in the actual auditorium.  Evan responded that they'd been on site since the previous Wednesday, working 18 hours a day to do the final tweaks and preparation to make sure that when the attendees walked for the kickoff of the conference, they received an experience that matched the creative vision.  I know it certainly came across that way to me - hopefully it did for all of you who experienced it with me, too!