Sky Sports Formula 1 HD

The new Sky Sports Formula 1 HD launches today and as well as having probably the longest channel name in television, it lauches with the Formula 1 show featuring my latest digital set. The show starts at 8pm, I’ll follow up with grabs after the weekend and then add further details of the designs development and pointers to some of the hidden details that might go undetected.

Here’s an earlier version that was used in one of the tests – this is version C3, we are launching with E8 and of course, thats a plywood mock up of the set, the real one is much slicker!

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Newsnight might have looked different

For a long time during the development of its design, Newsnight looked very different to the way it eventually appeared on screen when re-branded back in the early part of 2010. These shots from January 2010 show a studio test with full lighting and camera set-ups of an advanced version of the designs I developed in conjunction with Simon Jago at BDA. The brief had been to prepare a backdrop environment that comprised a night time scene inside a high-end lounge space with external views over a cityscape.

Over a number of studio tests we had been able to refine the composition in relation to all the anticipated shots, particularly the main mid-shots and had embarked on full studio tests with crew, lighting and stand-in presenters and guests. The design took a number of cues from the previous backdrop prepared by Angus McKeown. Two particular elements to carry through would be the sky treatment and streaks of light created by cars on the roadways within the cityscape. Everything worked except the nature of the space as defined by the brief, but it took until what was to have been the final test, late one Wednesday evening before the idea was eventually killed off for good.

We were now getting extremely close to projected re-launch date and running out of time so Simon and I immediately reconvened in a quiet corner of TVC to plan and sketch our recovery solution. Next day, I set to work on eliminating the interior elements save for the ceiling, floor and glazing elements and poured my energies into developing the citsycape. Eventually we introduced the glass fin elements to help us define our mid-ground and frame the shots, ultimately adding reflections and light effects to their surfaces. This process led to the design that eventually appeared on screen and is still being used today. The decision to abandon the original brief, though hard at the time proved to be a defining moment and provided the timely kick the creative process required.

Despite an often difficult development path, Newsnight remains one of my favourite backdrop environment designs.

Christmas for Breakfast


Whilst working through the archives I came across a batch of  grabs from the very first in-studio test for BBC Breakfast back in November 2008. Even though this was only the first test, I had prepared not only night, dawn and morning daylight scenarios but also a full range of seasons and a snowy christmas version complete with decorated trees.

Eventually, we narrowed our focus down to the dawn light option with low sun angle and sky ablaze with colour. The winter option was also dropped and we proceeded with a summer and autumn version for the seasons, though I don’t recall ever seeing the autumn version being used. It would have been great to really go to town on producing a full blown winter wonderland scene but unfortunately, this fairly quick paint-over has been the closest I have managed to get so far.

The interior scene at this early stage was a deliberately re-purposed version of the main news backdrop. The buildings in the background are also much larger in scale than the final version which ended up approximately 75% painted rather completely photomontage as here. The photography of buildings in this and the final version came from the rooftops of multi storey car parks within Nottingham. I always find it ironic that in the cut and paste from the final BBC Breakfast backdrop performed by East Midlands Today to create their studio backdrop, they replaced my photography of Nottingham with….a photograph of Nottingham.