StephenKellogTEDxConcordiaUPortlandDougNeillTimeLapse the graphic recorder sketchnotes

The Story Behind the TEDxConcordiaUPortland Time-Lapse Videos

Doug Neill TEDxConcordiaUPortland Time-Lapse Videos

The moment before each TEDxConcordiaUPortland speaker walked on stage was both exciting and nerve-wracking for me. Though I knew that the focus would be on the ideas that each speaker was about to share, I couldn’t help but think about how everyone would react to the short videos that played on those two GIANT screens in front of the audience of 700 people. Videos of a hand sketching with a sharpie – first the TEDx logo, then a portrait of the speaker, the title of their talk and a small sketch to accompany it. The story of how those time-lapse videos came together is my favorite so far among an ever-growing list populated by my experiments with sketchnoting.

(Note: If you don’t give a damn about the story and just want to see the videos, scroll to the bottom of this page)

Prior to the creation of the TEDxCUP videos, the extent of my experience with time-lapse videos involved using a simple iPhone app to create a video of me graphically recording Brene Brown’s interview on the show On Being. Thankfully, we had a real photographer and videographer among the planning team, George Mihaly, to make things look really good for the TEDxCUP videos.

The cool thing about this project is that neither of us had done anything like it before – George’s focus is on video work and I typically enjoy the peace of mind of NOT being recorded while sketchnoting. The fact that we even embarked on this project was thanks to Michelle Jones, the third and final character in this story (apart from all of the speakers, of course). Michelle enjoys finding ways for you to explore who you are, try new things, and take risks in the process. Her moral support and editor’s eye, as well as the wine and food she brought us, were invaluable.

On two different weeknights, we worked from about 7:00pm to midnight to create all of the time-lapse videos that you’ll find below. The first night involved a lot of tinkering and experimentation. The second night was more about getting down to work and busting out sketch after sketch.

I did the sketching, with a photo from the event program or website in front of me, the lights shining down, and the constant click of the camera marking each second with an image that would be added to a string of others to produce the videos that played to 700 people at TEDxCUP on March 23rd, 2013.

And though it took a lot of concentration to make each sketch, it was the social aspect of those evenings that made them particularly fun. We had just enough wine to stay loose without getting sloppy, and the right company to yield thoughtful and engaging conversations throughout both nights.

The thing that I’m most proud of is this – we got all of those videos done ON THE FIRST TAKE. It was incredibly satisfying to never have to go back and redo one. That’s not to say that there weren’t mistakes. Imperfections abound – facial proportions that are way off, mouths that I botched, poor spacing of text and visuals. But I CAN say that they all turned out well, and that maybe those imperfections added to the character of the final work.

At the end of the second night, we laid out all of the finished sketches on the table, and I said to Michelle – “This is one of the coolest things I’ve even been a part of.”

“Why?” she asked.

Because it pushed our limits, because it was collaborative, because IT WORKED, because it was going to be seen by hundreds of people and help them to remember the ideas worth spreading that were shared that day, because it contributed to the FEEL of that day, and to be involved in the generation of those feelings is something pretty special.

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