How Symphony of Science auto-tuned TED2012: Q&A with John Boswell

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John Boswell

John Boswell, who makes those wonderful Symphony of Science mashups, came to Long Beach with a mission: to auto-tune TED2012. Watch what he created: “It’s Time for TED.”

The TED Blog asked John how he did it — how he compressed three days (and a few extra years) of TED onstage into this catchy number starring Peter Diamandis, Paul Gilding, Kathryn Schulz and a galaxy of TEDTalks stars.

Did you come to TED with a general idea of what you were going to create, or was it more about listening for moments and working freely?

I’ve never been to a TED event before, so I came with an open mind hoping to soak in as much information as possible. In this way I was guided by my experience over the week in choosing the clips and themes of the video.

What led you to choose the talks you chose?

Over the first few days at the conference, it became clear that one of the overarching themes of the event was that it’s possible to change the world with great ideas and strong ambitions. This was the theme I wanted to carry over into the remix, so I focused on using clips that reinforced that idea. There were plenty to work with, and I felt that all the speakers understood this theme intuitively.

How did the logistics work — where were you working? How did you get media from the TED team?

I packed along a very portable version of my home studio, and was working out of my hotel room near the event. I quickly got set up with everyone in the “media cave,” and at the end of each day I would report there to get the latest batch of available video. I was only able to work with footage from the first three days due to logistical and time constraints, but the diversity in that group was more than enough to work with.

What software and tools did you use?

I am using Reason 6 to put together the music, then Adobe Premiere to edit the video. The song is done independently first, then the video editing once the song is finished.

Are there people you’d like to thank who helped you get this done?

Absolutely — huge thanks to Eric Mueller, Michael Glass, Angela Cheng, Don Levy, Priscilla Fazakas, Chris Anderson and all the others for having me this year and making this possible. It wouldn’t have been possible without their help.

What was your favorite moment of TED this year?

It’s really hard to choose, but my favorite TED moment would have to be the very first talk by Brian Greene. It was mindblowing to consider the possibility of other universes with different dimensions, that in theory they could collide with our own.

What’s your favorite TEDTalk ever?

Again, that’s a hard call, but my favorite TED talk of all time would probably be a classic, Jill Bolte Taylor’s “Stroke of Insight.” It was the basis for my remix about the Brain which came out last year, and a truly remarkable talk that I would recommend to anybody.

Find out more about each speaker in the mashup in our “Live from TED2012” coverage on the TED Blog. The full list:

Quixotic Fusion
Reuben Margolin
TED Curator Chris Anderson
Regina Dugan
Peter Diamandiswatch the TEDTalk >>
Paul Gildingwatch the TEDTalk >>
JR and the Inside Out Project
Video from Brian Greene
Billy Collins
Andy Hobsbawm (from TED2008)
Kathryn Schulz from TED2011
Reggie Watts
Meklit Hadero
T. Boone Pickens
James Hansenwatch the TEDTalk >>
Donald Sadoway
Bryan Stevensonwatch the TEDTalk >>
This year’s TED Prize wish:
The City 2.0
Suja Lowenthal