Sky News selects CueScript prompting for ‘glass box’ studio
CueScript has installed four CSM17” prompting units at Sky News’ new ‘glass box’ studio. The new studio, which features ceiling-mounted moveable cameras, presented several unique and complex technical challenges that required the CueScript team to come up with some creative solutions.
The new studio represents a major shift for Sky News, not only visually but technically. It was designed to provide a fresh look for Sky News while also directly connecting with visitors and staff through its glass walls. While other glass studios have track-mounted cameras on the floor, the Sky team wanted keep the floor area clear and uncluttered, so the cameras and prompters would be mounted on robotic telescopic arms suspended on a rail system from the ceiling.
In order to achieve this, CueScript faced three clear challenges. Firstly, the prompters had to have zero movement or wobble on the end shot. This was critical not only for the picture being broadcast, but also to ensure optimum performance from the robotic camera system. The mounting also had to be light to remain within weight limits when added to the camera weight, while maintaining the required rigidity. In addition, there was a health and safety consideration with the prompters – which feature large pieces of glass – being moved around over the presenters’ heads.
To address the issue of ‘wobble’, CueScript worked closely with Sky’s chosen robotics supplier Shotoku, providing a system to Shotoku’s Surrey facility for the offsite build and construction of the rail system.
“Floor-mounted track cameras are unusual enough, but hanging them from the ceiling with 2m elevation columns – and then adding full size cameras and prompting monitors to the equation – presented a major challenge,” said James Eddershaw, managing director, Shotoku. “By building a mock-up of the system, we were able to collaborate with CueScript’s team to iron out issues of payload, counterbalance and physics, in order to meet Sky’s needs.”
CueScript suggested the use of acrylic in the prompter hoods instead of glass, alleviating safety concerns and also halving the weight compared to normal teleprompter glass. The team sourced optically pure acrylic with the same properties as normal prompter glass – a reflective coating on one side and anti-reflective on the other side – and would not flex or warp, avoiding image distortion.
The prompter hoods also had to be able to clear a wide angle lens, as the shots required needed to capture the essence of the glass studio and the surrounding inner workings of Sky’s new complex. In addition the CueScript monitors had to be large enough for the presenters to read at a distance. The CSM 17” LED monitors were chosen for the level of brightness and contrast level, as well as the increased viewing angle of the new LED screens.
CueScript’s integrated cue lights on the corners of the CSM prompters, gives the presenters a much clearer indication of each camera being cued. The double digit Cue Numbers were a must with the studio camera numbering going up to 12. The ability to change the brightness of both the Cue Numbers and cue lights on the CSM monitors was an added advantage,, eliminating unwanted reflections in the studio glass.
Tom Pidsley, project lead, Sky Production Services, said: “We knew this would be a complex project and we looked at several prompting options on the market. We found that CueScript’s feature set was exactly what we were looking for, at a good price point, and the CueScript team was very forthcoming with their help and advice. We’re very pleased with the success of this unique installation.”
“To our knowledge, this is a one-of-a-kind prompting configuration,” said Brian Larter, director, CueScript. “It was the kind of challenge that we relish, and by working closely with the Sky News team and our friends at Shotoku, we were able to create a practical yet elegant solution.”