Backdrop designs for Scotland Tonight

I’ve been working on virtual set designs for most of the past year, but recently had the opportunity to work on a printed backdrop design for a set design by Toby Kalitowski at BK Design Projects. The new set was for STV’s Scotland Tonight, which broadcasts from their studios in Glasgow.

Pic Courtesy STV Press Office
Pic Courtesy STV Press Office
Pic Courtesy STV Press Office

The backdrops depict an stylised interior, and make extensive use of glass, and reflective surfaces. The scene is composed to provide the multiple opportunities to frame shots, whether they were wides or closely framed singles. To complicate matters, the scene makes extensive use of linear perspective, but is displayed on a curved surface. By a combination of different techniques, the scene artwork was provided pre-curved, so that installation would effectively de-curve the scene as it was applied to the lightboxes.

The new look went live on Monday, so I can now share some photos provided from the set.

Bakcdrops: Lightwell
Set Design: Toby Kalitowski
Set Build: Scott Fleary

Backdrop build: 3DS Max + Vray render

Virtual Set Designs for PWC

A very small preview of some new designs I have been working on at Lightwell, for PWC for use in the Newtek Tricaster equipped greenscreen studio. The new virtual set designs feature four separate presentation spaces, each designed a different presenting style and format. The complete set of new designs are due to launch in Spring 2017.

My earlier designs for PWC are featured on the Lightwell website.

Some very massive digital backdrops designed for Bloomberg Go

jimmann_digital_backdrop_bloomberg_2

My latest designs, for a set of digital backdrops for Bloomberg TV’s new, New York studios went live yesterday. The architectural scene in the backdrops is based upon Bloomberg’s own headquarters building in New York and is displayed in a set of massive LED screens. Often, with such large screens I tend to find that the pitch of the LED’s is coarse, but these have a luxurious 1.9mm pitch – by way of comparison, the screen we prepared at Lightwell, for TV4 News in Sweden is of a similar size, but has a 12mm pitch.

jimmann_digital_backdrop_bloomberg_3

The finer pitch resolution has meant that we’ve had to adjust our approach in a number of ways. Previously, we would avoid fine detail and focus on lighting across large areas, and establishing strong contrast within the imagery to counteract the effect of the diffusion screens that would be required in front of the LED’s. The superior resolution of the Bloomberg installation means that no diffusion screen is required, and so we now need to focus on finer details, particularly within the mid-shots, in a way that would have been a wasted effort on previous projects. The absence of a diffusion screen also means that we get better colour fidelity. LED screens tend to be excellent at re-producing colour anyway, but by removing the diffusion layer in the project, we have been able to achieve better blacks, and can be confident that what the viewer will see upon their screens, is the closest to what we see here in the studio that we have experienced.

jimmann_digital_backdrop_bloomberg_4

Another factor that we have had to adapt to on this project, like no other, is that extra pixels mean much larger file sizes. We’ve had to adapt to working with 12k composites, and the logistics of delivering and playing 8k video. This is a challenge that will be ongoing for the foreseeable future, but is one that I welcome, not least because it makes my work look infinitely better with each new technological advance.

This is a bold investment in technology by Bloomberg, one that I applaud. They have been a fantastic client.

jimmann_digital_backdrop_bloomberg_1

jimmann_digital_backdrop_bloomberg_5

jimmann_digital_backdrop_bloomberg_6

Virtual sets designed by Lightwell for RFERL Farda

Virtual sets designed by Lightwell for RFERL Farda from Lightwell on Vimeo.

I designed, and prepared these virtual sets between March and June 2015. The studio and desk were already in place, but cameras and lights were being set-up as the design progressed.

The brief was to provide a design for a news studio within a newsroom. The client expressed an interest in some of my previous backdrop designs, and so I set about adapting these ideas into a three dimensional solution.

My initial concepts were for a predominantly white, high-key set, based upon the Radio Free Europe logo. Although they liked this look, the client already had a set for another show with a similar palette and wanted to differentiate between the two by employing a different colour scheme, as well as a different design. Taking my cue from the titles, I switched to a deep blue colour scheme, offset by orange detailing. Although I am pleased with the final colour scheme, I can’t help but ponder how great it might have been to explore that white/orange/grey palette that I used in the initial concepts.

The finished digital sets were prepared for use with the Newtek Tricaster, and accommodate both desk based, and standing presenter shots. Out of a relatively modest studio space, RFERL are now able to record news bulletins set within a generously proportioned set, and surrounded by a large, modern, newsroom space. A nice client to work with, and a fun project to design.