Project Description

BBC Sports News

A big part of what we do here at EC Creative Services is problem-solving, clients come to us with an issue and our job is to sort it. We were recently approached by BBC Sport for whom we do a lot of work at MediaCityUK (MCUK) in Salford because they needed a bespoke lighting solution suitable for their main sports news TV studio.

The matter in hand was the switch at the end of the main BBC News broadcast (transmitted from BBC Broadcasting House in Central London) to the BBC Sport news (transmitted from Quay House in Salford).

The backdrop and lighting at Broadcasting House was predominantly white and very bright whereas the background and lighting at Quay House was predominantly black and much darker.

Consequently it was felt that the switch between the two was too great and a new lighting solution was required to reduce the amount of contrast between the two studios.

Working with Jim Ewart, lighting designer extraordinaire, our LED experts created and implemented a bespoke solution to up-light the set and surrounding work areas thereby significantly reduced the difference in lighting between the two studios.

The measures we identified and applied included repainting the office work areas (seen in-shot) to a light grey colour to take the light more effectively, upholstering areas that couldn’t be painted (for example four large structural columns) with removable white cloths and then creating bespoke metal brackets for the tops of the columns to hang LED par cans from – ensuring that they were accurately spaced to create enough throw distance to illuminate the whole column.

And – in a TV first – we introduced over twenty 1x metre long double-row RGBW LED wall washers to the outer perimeter of the studio. These can be mixed to create an almost infinite number (well, millions anyway) of colours to suit any theme or particular show. The enormous benefit of double-row LED flex is that it softens the sometimes harsh neon look produced by LED and gives a much broader palette of pastel shades. This in turn significantly offers more creative scope for the lighting designer.

To further brighten the main background shot we also replaced a previously black panel with a white one and again edged it with double-row RGBW LED flex. In addition our technicians covered the bottom 600mm of glass that rings the studio with a vinyl wrap. LED flex was added to the top and bottom of the wrap meaning that the entire perimeter of the studio can now be lit from both above and below.

Finally we lit the individual Perspex sections of the news desk with single row LED flex and built two battery powered truckable light boxes that could be moved around the studio to illuminate specific areas as and when required.

Jim was really pleased with the flexibility that the finished installation offered and how it enabled him to create the new Sports news look. He said:

‘The changes were relatively small but the finished design and impact was dramatic, plus the whole job went smoothly from start to finish. Ben was always available whenever I needed a change or we found a unique issue that needed solving.

I always try and use EC in my work where appropriate and indeed they have provided excellent support and equipment in many of my jobs. I always enjoy working with the team, they instantly respond to any changes I make or that the job dictates and they come up with creative solutions so that I can get the job done – exactly what I’m looking for from a scenery company and LED supplier’.

And the boss said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. Amen to that.

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