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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

RFEL Farda virtual set just went live.

 

The Radio Free Europe’s Farsi news re-launched today, from a brand new virtual set, designed and prepared by Lightwell.

The resolution isn’t ideal, but I have been promised grabs and clips. The broadcasts are recorded in a greenscreen studio equipped with the Newtek Tricaster. The only real, physical elements within the space are the desk, and the rostra (designed by others).

The sets were prepared in 3DS Max, and rendered with V-Ray, but the level of finish within the design isn’t really apparent from this video. Once I have the stills from the recording, I will be able to post these here and illustrate the quality of the lighting and materials.

With virtual set design, it pays to hire a professional

If imitation really is the highest form of flattery, what should we make of it when, in addition to the imitation being embarrassingly poor, someone is trying to profit from it?

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A poor quality, knock-off “Virtual News Studio” model for sale on Turbosquid.

Recently spotted for sale on Turbosquid, is this tacky imitation of the ITV News set. Rather than pick the fake apart, I’ll just include a comparison shot (below) from the actual ITV News set, designed and prepared by a team of dedicated and experienced professionals.

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The ITV News virtual set. An original set, prepared by a team of highly experienced designers (Lightwell, BDA/Jago Design/Lambie Nairn) together with a fantastic client, ITN.

The one detail I will mention is that the fake model uses 10,000 polygons, whereas the original newsroom model uses only 62 polygons, incorporates pre-baked lighting textures, and can actually function as a virtual set within VizRT – just one of the multitude of reasons why it pays to use a professional.