Innovative Studio Project RecognizedFebruary 14, 2008
An innovative project by Brightline for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis has been declared a runner-up in Broadcast Engineering magazine’s 2007 Excellence Awards competition. The coverage in Broadcast Engineering’s print and on-line editions provides details about this exciting project, which was one of seven finalists in the category of new studio or RF technology for a station. Excellence Awards winners and runners-up will be recognized during a ceremony at the upcoming NAB Show, which will take place April 14-17, 2008 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Brightline entry, transcribed below, can also be seen here.
A Plan for All Seasons: Historic Midwest Station Brings
City Lights, Accessibility to Public
By 1956, seven years after its on-air debut, Minneapolis’ WCCO-TV was drawing lunch-time crowds outside its studio windows, on which the weatherman would write the day’s forecast while those gathered watched themselves on the monitors. The characteristics suggested by this page from the station’s history–an inventive take on technology and a desire to connect with its public and establish a vibrant presence in the heart of a growing city–have survived to the present day. In the last 18 months, the CBS-owned-and-operated station has inaugurated a reconfigured newsroom and two redesigned broadcast studios that feature unique and innovative architectural- and lighting-design technology conceived to take full advantage of its downtown setting.
First to be completed was the Nicollet Studio, which runs alongside the city’s central pedestrian mall. As backdrop to the anchor desk, an expansive glass wall was angled into the building’s western facade, with additional windows fronting the adjacent weather center.
Normally, lighting a set subject to significant levels of daylight requires treating the windows with gels or other color-temperature-correcting materials, which can tint or mirror the surface and make it difficult for onlookers to see through the glass. Because WCCO was determined to preserve maximum visibility into the building, a motorized triple-roller system using Rosco N.3 and N.6 neutral-density filters was devised for the windows. To harmonize with the lighting conditions, Brightline SeriesONE (S1.4) DMX-dimmable studio fixtures were selected and lamped with daylight-temperature (5600K) Osram Studioline lamps. The electrical and thermal efficiency of the 4 x 55-W fluorescent technology enabled the station to avoid the need for additional HVAC resources despite the increase in ambient sunlight.
Finding the Nicollet redesign a big hit with both the public and on-air talent, WCCO turned to an even more challenging makeover of another facility–a much larger, enclosed studio that abutted a grassy plaza on the east side of the complex.
For the Plaza Studio, the design team proposed a radical statement: opening the plaza to the public (complete with an outdoor LED screen showing current programming) and “opening” the studio wall to the plaza using more than 1000 sq ft of glass set in Minnesota limestone, with the panels behind the main anchor desk alone more than 15-ft wide and 18-ft tall. Neutral-density filters were again deployed, but because of the need to shoot both evening and daytime shows under potentially volatile light conditions, Brightline custom engineered its SeriesONE fixtures to feature digitally addressable dual-circuit ballasts, so that a fixture could be configured simultaneously with both daylight (5600K) and incandescent (3200K) lamps. A Horizon-A PC-based lighting-control system stores multiple cues to match changing color-temperature and level requirements on set.
If early reviews and a ratings bump are any indication, WCCO has amply realized its goals: to establish a new media icon for Minneapolis, to showcase and celebrate the area’s distinctive seasons in its daily broadcasts, and to offer unprecedented viewing access for pedestrians downtown in a new public space that has become a vital gathering point for information.
- Gary Kroger, Director of Engineering & Operations
- Mike Marrone, Head Floor Director/Stage Manager
- Todd Megrund, Floor Director/Stage Manager
- Steven Richardson, Floor Director/Stage Manger
- Sam Cercone, Managing Partner
- Dan Glass, Lighting Engineer
Nicholas Hutak Lighting Design
- Nicholas Hutak, Lighting Director
Beecher Walker & Associates
- Lyle Beecher, AIA, Principal/CEO
Brightline SeriesONE, 4 x 55-W, dual-circuit, DMX-dimmable fixtures
Brightline control screens and intensifiers
Brightline multi-fixture racks and hangers
Osram Studioline 5600K and 3200K, 55-W lamps
Horizon-A PC-based lighting-control system
Rosco N.3 and N.6 neutral-density filters and scrim
Altman ODEC outdoor ellipsoidal fixtures
Daktronics 10-mm outdoor LED display
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