TED Talks

"Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Well, not always..."

Our collaboration with TED Innovation began with an observation by Steven Johnson, author, TED speaker, and host of the PBS series How We Got To Now. In his latest book, “Wonderland,” Johnson explains how some of the most transformative ideas and technologies, like the computer, didn't actually emerge from necessity, but out of humanity's love of play. Clearly speaking our language!

While TED Talks are often filmed in front of a live audience, the TED Innovation team decided to try a new approach that could retain online engagement. Interested in incorporating animation into their story, the team asked us to design an aesthetic that would fit Johnson's playful narrative and visualize special moments in human history. Inspired by Johnson's hypothesis, we decided to literally play with our animations by crafting scenes out of old toys, dollhouse parts, musical instruments, and sculpted objects. And thanks to our amazing fabrication team, our dreams of a sculpted bone flute were realized! Visit Steven Johnson's blog to learn more about Wonderland and visit the TED website to review this transcript along with Johnson's current reading list.

  • Client: TED Talks
  • Creative Director: Michaela Olsen
  • Creative Producer: Jess Peterson
  • Animation Director: Michaela Olsen
  • Fabricators: Michaela Olsen, Anthony Galante, and Minkyung Chung
  • Stop Motion Animator: Michaela Olsen and Anthony Galante
  • Post FX: Michaela Olsen and Anthony Galante
  • Storyboards: Minkyung Chung