Fox Business Gets a New LookLaunches graphic-intensive studio with uptown views 4/18/2009 02:00:00 AM Eastern
Fox Business Network will give viewers a brighter look at the world—or at least Midtown Manhattan—starting April 20, when it begins broadcasting from a new high-tech studio on the east side of the News Corp. building with expansive views of New York City action to the north and east.
The multi-million-dollar Studio G facility, which is supported by a new high-definition control room, was built on the former roof of a two-story outcropping on the east side of the News Corp. building at 1211 Avenue of the Americas. The studio space, which has seven windows that look out on the street, now reaches up to the fifth floor of the building. The new roof has been set up for live outdoor shots in warm weather with paving stones, a broadcast service panel and wireless-mike connectivity back to the studio.
The studio itself, which launches with the 7 a.m. ET broadcast of Money for Breakfast, is designed to provide a variety of set looks. Three main moving floor parts rotate and pivot into different configurations, and a movable staircase connects to a standup location above the studio. The 3,500-square-foot space is also outfitted with a variety of hi-def displays to show real-time graphics and video.
“There are a lot of ways of telling a story here,” says Warren Vandeveer, senior VP of operations and engineering for Fox News, who gave B&C a tour of the new set as members of the Money for Breakfast team, including anchor Alexis Glick, did rehearsals last week.
The in-studio displays include three 103-inch Panasonic plasma screens (which will eventually be outfitted with infrared technology to allow talent to interactively launch FBN's Vizrt graphics); an animation wall of three 70-inch Samsung LCD monitors that can be used to seamlessly display either one large image or three different graphics; and eight large Christie rear-projection screens. There are also large LED screens mounted outside the building that will showcase either graphic banners or live broadcasts to passers-by on the street.
The myriad displays are controlled by a dedicated operator at a small Sony production switcher. They are driven by Vista Spyder video processing systems that scale images to the individual screens and can show any possible configuration of video and graphics. “With a set like this, you need somebody to drive stuff to the displays,” Vandeveer says.
The studio, which was integrated by Ascent Media, is equipped with several interactive kiosks, each consisting of a computer screen and keyboard linked to a KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) system that reporters can use to display graphics or Web content. Kiosk users can also interact with viewers through social networking tools such as Twitter. Other key gear includes four Ikegami HD studio cameras with Canon lenses and a large Jimmy Jib camera crane.
When Fox originally designed the studio, it planned to cover most of the eastern flank of the space with an interior wall. But that plan was scrapped after the shell of the studio was built and Fox executives realized what great outdoor views they had. So much of the set's background consists of windows, which have been treated with CTO film to minimize blue-light transmission on sunny days. The new space is a significant upgrade from Fox Business' original studios B and F, which were built in repurposed lobby space.
“It's great to be able to build a place from scratch, and not live with the legacy of the lobby space,” Vandeveer says. “This was a great opportunity to make the most of an office building location.”
FBN dayparts that were previously shot in Studio F (which will be phased out) have moved into Studio B, previously the flagship studio for Money for Breakfast, so they will also get a new look. That starts with the 5 a.m. ET broadcast on April 20 of Fox Business Morning from Studio B.
The control room for Studio G is similar in design and equipment to previous HD control rooms for Fox Business and Fox News Channel. Core gear includes a Sony MVS-8000 production switcher; Harris Nexio servers to play back graphic clips; a large virtual monitor wall of LCD displays driven by Evertz MVP multi-image display processor software; a Calrec digital audio console; and Evertz infrastructure gear.
Vandeveer is looking forward to the different views out of the new Studio G that will come with the changing seasons, such as holiday lights in the fall, as well as the opportunity for any Fox show to shoot outside on the new roof. He is also excited by recent reports that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade may be rerouted to come down Avenue of the Americas, due to city plans to turn part of Broadway into a pedestrian-only zone.
As Vandeveer says: “The parade would come right before the building.”