Seven years later, TV Nova is preparing for a drastic change in the look of its news studio. “While we have now used half the news and the other half for journalism, we will be using the new multifunctional studio for news and journalism as a whole,” explains the News Director, Upcoming News. Full of sense. The large studio, through which all versions of Televizní noviny are handled during the day or on Sundays Střepina, undergo a complete reconstruction, and instead of middlemen or photographers, workers go to it.
“We used to remake half of the studio and broadcast the other half. But now it’s not possible to work in the entire space,” explains TV Nova’s chief animation officer. Radovan Cerny. “At the same time, we know that building and training in a new environment takes several months. So we figured out how to broadcast Novini TV so that the viewer knows the difference as little as possible,” Kamil Hoska continues.
A team of technicians, graphic designers, and brilliance came up with an alternative solution using Backup Studio. However, this has a fundamental difference compared to a standard studio with a large screen and wide area: it is barely a quarter the size. The lights are low, the walls are closer, and instead of the real scene, there is a lot of green switch area.
During a personal visit, one would think that major news from such a studio, including sports and weather, could not be viewed without making a difference on screen. The area is about thirty square meters and the technology is so crowded with it that even camera movements are not possible. Meanwhile, Nova News usually alternates between various studio shots, including the camera jack.
“It used to be a backup studio for us, when it malfunctioned, we now broadcast several sessions of it every day. It fulfills everything we need for a few months,” notes the intelligence director. Representatives of the creative department, service departments, photographers, editors, as well as make-up artists and stylists, together, came up with how to simulate the most faithful environment of the original studio using the Green Key area. Small green spaces have their thematic drawbacks, from lighting to makeup. During filming and post-production it is time to fine-tune and possibly fine-tune everything, in live news coverage the number of disruptive factors should be kept to a minimum.
“We’re trying to do something that takes weeks in regular, real-time post-production,” he says. Lukac CopelHead of Service Department TV Nova.
The magic of an alternate studio is that it’s not a simple switch, as only a pre-recorded environment appears behind the moderators. A full 3D virtual version of all news settings has been created, from Polední Televizní noviny to the main evening news, and Střepiny also has its own computer model. The only thing that is realistic about the current studio is the psychics table. But even this is a modern version of the original decoration. The reason is simple: the original table has a matte surface, which created reflective surfaces and cannot be used in an alternate environment. So the new table has a matte surface.
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In the classic virtual studio, there are tracking points that are used to monitor the movement of cameras in space, and the resulting environment changes accordingly. But the alternative news studio does not use it, it is an unfettered technology. “The paparazzi will come to their sites and calibrate the cameras according to the templates. They lock them in place and turn away. No one is allowed to get confused anymore,” comments Radovan Cerny.
There were originally three cameras in the backup studio, and another camera was added to simulate the Noviny Televizní environment. It replaces shots from a camera jack. However, in reality, all four cameras are stationary – virtually all inclines and styles are generated by software. Computer is not only concerned with creating an artificial studio environment but also in including all the dynamic graphics in which they appear. Real-time, for example, handles the (default) on-screen background behind the moderators or graphics that viewers see in front of the moderator table. Also manage to insert all caption bars.
“At some point, the 3D object area is shown where the moderators are. We do this from one of the animation sources on the table, and the other moderators animation changes according to the report, and then there is the third wall, which also has its own data source.” Says the head of the fees department.
The large amount of calculated data requires a different work with the voice. “It takes some time to process the image data, so there will be a big shift in the sound. On normal TV, there are two points plus or minus, and nobody solves that, but here we got to a delay of 14-17 frames, and this can be seen many times.” Lucas Copel adds.
Hardware that deals with virtualization is overrated as a “better gaming PC” – if that computer has a few tens of gigabytes of RAM. 3D models are designed to be as faithful as possible compared to the real environment, but on the other hand, objective boundaries are respected so that creating a scene does not take disproportionate time.
Because of the broadcasts from the new studio, the temperature of the lights will have to be set differently. In the original space, yellow was lit warmer, while in the default environment, the lighting was close to daylight. It is very visible on the skin. Not only because of that, new makeup for the supervisors had to be devised. The change also had to happen in clothes, accessories and hairstyles.
Almost half a year has passed since the first initiative to broadcast from the alternative studio. The third wave of Coronavirus and the associated strict measures involved coordination of teams and necessary preparations. The new studio setting sparked a kind of change of mindset. For example, they had to get used to directing that they did not switch cameras, but prepared graphic scenes.
In cooperation with the program and the On-Air Promotion Department, among other things, a few minutes of content had to be devised to separate Noviny Televizní and Sportovní noviny. As was said before, the space is just too small to fit the motifs of both sessions next to each other. There are only three minutes to change the scenery and the other necessary steps, which turned out to be the minimum amount of time everything could be done during the test.
“The TV Novini is coming to an end, the mediators must disarm the ports, we have to leave the table away, the sports director will arrive and we have to light it and spread it, because it is in a different place. Within three minutes, the Sportovní noviny song will start, and even if there are still artists there.” Makeup is there at that moment, we will probably air them, ” describes Radovan Černý šrumec, who has no chance to see the scenes.
Everything is in centimeters – literally. When creating a hypothetical environment, the height of the moderators was also calculated.
During the weather session, Nova had to regret the original graphics control with Kinect technology, which responded to hand movements. “The entire weather is on the same principle that we are using in the alternate studio now. So we get to a situation where we’re actually showing another virtual studio in the virtual studio, and there we’re really going to face computing power and delays that we won’t be able to compensate,” explains Lucas Copel. So the director has control over the weather graphics.
“We all said to ourselves, let’s broadcast the best new TV series from this studio, which we can do under the given conditions,” Lukáš Kobl notes. The studio began broadcasting in the second half of April, and despite all fine tuning, it becomes clear to the trained eye even after a month that this is not a real environment. “However, if the result is not 100% indistinguishable from the actual studio, we won’t have to build with the new studio,” says the head of service. However, major viewers will not notice Nova a fundamental difference.
“We have multi-stage protection. When the program crashes, there are two other engines behind it that can take over. If number one fails, before we get to the third system, number one will start again in the meantime,” Radovan Černý continued.
It will be broadcast from the backup environment for several months. Then the whole team faces another challenge – the simultaneous commissioning of a large, rebuilt intelligence studio. The last major changes in it happened in 2014. When they are exactly planning to launch a new studio, they don’t want to talk about Nova yet.