Lighting SKY Sport News HD’s new studio
There can be little doubt that the new SKY Sport News HD studio in the German town of Unterfoehring (a suburb of Munich) is one of the most technologically advanced TV studios in Europe. The studio floor is integrated into the circular news room, that also includes editing facilities. Through the use of cameras especially reserved for newsroom shots, viewers will feel very close to the sports news editorial team’s work.
One of the first eye catchers one notices when entering the studio is the fully automated camera setup surrounding the news desk. All the main broadcast cameras are being controlled straight from the control room, with no traditional camera operators visible on the actual studio floor.
Behind the presenters’ backs, one can see straight through to the newly finished foyer, which also features a permanently installed camera for guest interviews shots.
The German company mo2 design GmbH was enlisted to take care of the complete illumination and lighting control in the studio and parts of the foyer, from where one can look back into the studio. All relevant lighting fixtures and even the LED tickers had to be centrally controlled in order to ensure flexible and camera friendly light.
While mosart was used as an agenda control system for the whole studio, coolux’s Widget Designer Software was the main tool when it came to realising the advanced lighting and media control set-up. Under normal circumstances, all studio systems, not just the lighting controls, can be operated by just two operators.
The general principle behind the simplicity of the touchscreens used for controlling the lighting fixtures (mostly LED-luminaires) and illuminated objects (mostly SchnickSchnack LEDs), can be summarized in the following way. The coolux Pandoras Box Player software has been set-up to include a pixel map, with the Widget Designer controlling the Player. The Widget Designer communicates with the Player system in such a way, that it controls which layer is active on the pixel map at any given point in time. In addition to this, the DMX signals are being controlled by the Widget Designer as well, which is vital for the lighting set-up surrounding the presenters.
mo2 design GmbH’s technical director Matthias Allhoff explains how the decision to use the coolux Widget Designer came about:
“Although the SKY studio was originally supposed to use classical lighting desks, we were given a great degree of freedom when it came to finding a suitable solution. We were looking for a lighting and media control solution that had to be cost effective, highly flexible and extremely reliable. Only the overall concept of the user interface, which had to be space efficient and simple to use, was definite from the beginning. Due to our previous experience with coolux products, we quickly identified the Widget Designer as the appropriate tool for this scenario. The true power of this solution really became apparent as more and more system components had to be integrated throughout the project development, which was easily accomplished.“
There are two approaches when it comes to using the Widget Designer in the SKY studio’s control room.
The first approach lets the Widget be controlled by mosart, which is extremely important for the overall studio setup as a whole. Every change gets triggered by mosart directly. A MIDI signal reaches the Widget Designer, which is then interpreted to trigger and control a collection of pre-configured scenes and value presets (e.g. which lighting fixtures should be switched on or off; which background object is referred to in the coolux Player software).
The second approach revolves around manual input control, which means the ability to deactivate certain parts of the Mosart software dedicated to lighting control. One can now change lighting scenes or backgrounds using a regular touchscreen and the Widget Designer. It is possible for the people working in the control room to make lighting changes on the fly. The Widget Designer triggers all necessary commands at the flick of a button. A very advanced backend configuration leads to a user friendly front end – in this case a touchscreen with multiple buttons.
mo2 system integrator Thomas Mrozek describes his experiences with the ingenious setup this way:
“Colleagues to which I showed the Widget Designer were really impressed and wanted to know more about how the backend worked. The Widget Designer is the main tool for the complete lighting control here at the SKY Sport News HD studio. The idea was to create controls that just about anyone would be able to use – without the need for long periods of extra training. All important functions have to be instantly available. Now I can easily select the appropriate lighting mood, without the danger of interfering with the system backend in any “dangerous” way.”