Some very massive digital backdrops designed for Bloomberg Go


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.


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.


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.




Creating movie effects on a TV Schedule – ILM’s work for Agent Carter.

Wired/FX Guide have posted a very concise look at the VFX work done by ILM, on the TV show, Agent Carter.

The television VFX work looks spectacular, but it’s even more interesting to see that these grandees of the effects industry are producing work for television*.

Is this a sign of the growing maturity of episodic television, or more related to economic conditions within the film industry?

*This isn’t the first occasion that ILM have worked on a television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles would be one previous example.

Newsroom Backdrops for Al Jazeera Arabic News Channel

Al Jazeera Arabic new set featuring newsroom backdrop designed by Jim Mann at Lightwell

Al Jazeera Arabic news channel recently upgraded their studios for HD broadcasts. I was delighted to be asked to provide the animated newsroom backdrops for the screens behind the presenters on the night-time bulletins. Other project committment meant that I hadn’t been able to take this project on initially, but when a window opened in my schedule I seized the opportunity to work with one of the worlds biggest broadcasters. By this stage, the deadline wasn’t far off, so I set about designing and preparing these set extensions in record-breaking time.

The final design comprises a double height space backed by office and control room spaces with views through to an atrium space beyond.

Al Jazeera Arabic News digital set designed by Jim Mann at Lightwell

Update April 12, 2013 – This project has now been added to the Lightwell website

ITV News VR Newsroom

Earlier today, ITV launched an entire re-brand of its channels and programmes which included ITV News from ITN.  I worked with ITN’s in-house computer graphics department to create the virtual newsroom space that can be seen beyond the glazing of the virtual set. Although I have produced designs for VR sets before, these digital sets are probably the most integrated project that I have worked on to date and it’s been quite inspiring to explore the possibilities offered by this kind of technology.

The whole design package is very much a team effort. The VR studio/set was produced in-house by ITN, based upon designs by BDA. The VR newsroom was produced by me and designed in conjunction with BDA who produced the initial design concepts. The overall brand re-design is by Lambie Nairn.

The version shown here is for day time bulletins, there’s an alternate version for use on night time broadcasts.


Daybreak – From concept to final design

ITV re-launched Daybreak, their breakfast show at the beginning of September, 2012. With just over ten weeks until launch, I began working with the set designers at BDA to prepare the views for the six plasma screens that would be acting as windows within the new set.

After an early false start along a soon abandoned tangent, we returned to a blurred photograph that had been used successfully in earlier presentations. We recreated the contents of the photograph in 3D and expanded upon the scene it suggested. The photographic reference was only big enough to fill a single window panel and so we had to extend the courtyard scene in order for it to fit the three screen window arrangement at the centre of the set design.

As the designs evolved, more modern versions of the courtyard were developed. The materials and colour palettes were retained but the forms and planting became more ordered and we began to focus on the composition of shapes within the blurred end product.

Continued development of the design led to increased amounts of detail and decreasing amounts of sky.

In the final version of the design, the scene is heavily colour corrected to compensate for the blue/cyan bias of the plasma screens.

Client: ITV Daytime
Set Design and Art Direction: BDA
Scenery Construction: Scott Fleary

ITV Daybreak Launch




TV2 Norway, Backdrop Environments

Buried in the background of the new studio for TV2 News in Bergen you will find the backdrop environment that I designed and prepared over the summer of 2012.

The brief required black and white imagery to work with coloured front lighting. In order to achieve the best visual results, I worked on producing a design that would allow broad tonal range but with sufficient contrast to work well with the front lighting effects. The main lower portion of the scene is printed, but for the upper portion I prepared artwork for virtual lightboxes that are incorporated into a virtual set extension to be managed by VizRT.

As on other recent designs, I have made use of forced perspective techniques.

Images of the finished set can be found on the TV2 website