My company’s website has just been updated with a set of images for my latest project, the virtual sets for the Sun FC show on Sun+. This was one of my most comprehensive designs so far and makes use of the Sun’s dedicated studio space fitted with a full lighting rig, remotely controlled cameras, Reflecmedia chroma keying and RT Software’s tOG-VR virtual studio system.
The initial brief was to design a desk and virtual studio for a show based around a single presenter and up to three guests. Working within a budget, I made as much use of the tOG-VR system as possible by designing a truck-able, physical desk back at which the presenter and guests would sit. Filming of the pilots was fast approaching and time was limited, but over the course of one day I sketched designs for seven desk concepts. The clear favourite turned out to be the first design which featured a curved plan layout dominated by an LED mid-body section. The LED’s would provide the client with the flexibility to update and modify the display to suit different shows and features.
Once the concept was approved, I drew on my experience as an architect working on interiors and fit-outs to sketch the layout and detail for the desk and enable costs and shop drawings to be prepared by Scott Fleary. The physical desk was delivered on schedule on the morning before filming of the pilots was due to begin.
On camera, the desk back and its structure, along with the legs of the occupants are cloaked by the virtual desk front. This hybrid real/virtual desk then sits within a virtual studio designed and lit to simulate a space within the concrete under-croft of a football stadium and overlooking a football pitch.
As powerful as VR systems are, I always try and pre-bake/pre-render the lighting in a scene as much as possible. On this project, the studio space and stadium are all pre-rendered whereas the desk is lit in realtime by the tOG-VR system. This combination produced the best quality results, appropriate to each element and its surface properties.
The stadium takes inspiration from a variety of modern stadiums, but is ultimately an original design. I designed it from the pitch up, using correct sight lines and recognised building regulations (most of the time) to arrive at a credibly functional looking design that would complement and enhance both the wide and the mid-shots that were being proposed at the time.
As the pilots and rehearsals progressed, the shows format and presentation styles evolved from one that was predominantly seated, to one that is entirely standing at the time of its launch. The set design was modified to suit this change and the desk designs remain parked for the time being.
The Sun FC launched in August 2013 and can be viewed at http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/ (Sun+ subscription required)