Uncharted is the theme chosen by TEDxToronto for their annual conference in 2020. As Creative Director, I led a team of five designers to create a visual identity that is conceptually in line with what the theme represents.
Video + Motion Design
Adobe After Effects
The creative brief was conceptual and open-ended, and left a lot up to our imagination as to how it could be visually expressed. There was also a pitfall of expressing 'charted'-ness as opposed to 'uncharted'-ness – as in, I expressly did not want overt visuals of maps or charts. Our biggest challenge was to come up with something that effectively communicated the theme, but not be too prescriptive in our approach. We wanted to leave it up to the viewers to interpret the theme from the visuals, which meant our designs had to emcompass heavily conceptual ideas while staying accessible.
I led the team through a series of design exercises, beginning with a research into TEDxToronto's past iteration of conferences, as well as examples of other TEDx organizations around the globe. Then we delved into the brief, pulling out key words and phrases that we could use as jumping off points. We then narrowed the streams of ideas to 4 or 5, fleshed each out for the review process, iterated based on feedback, and finally was given final approval for a single direction.
We were inspired by the parts of the brief asserting that the old maps are not working anymore and we need a new perspective to chart a better course. Through the course of our design investigation, it became apparent that motion was going to be the key to expressing the theme: we equated the 'old map' to static 2D representations, and the 'new perspective' to moving 3D graphics.
Working in Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects, we took several visual cues from the software, particularly how these software use four-quadrant grids to show different angels and perspectives of a given object. Using the grid as a jumping off point, we came up with a modular system comprising of four Scenes (grids) and four Objects (3D items) that grow incrementally in complexity, as well as a set of loose rules on how to combine each of the element in a way that is easily digestible to the viewer.
The result is a unique and dynamic series of visuals that create an interesting tension between 2D and 3D, and represents new ideas merging out of uncharted territories.