FX wraps up busy year of new looks

nabpreviewicon.jpgFX Group has wrapped up an extremely busy year heavily driven by stations coverting to HD — and has the distinction of designing more news sets than any other firm since last year’s NAB convention.

“2007 and early 2008 have been extremely busy for us,” said Kathy Mosher-Boulé, the company’s vice president.These projects run the gamut of geography and station sizes, including top markets Boston and Dallas to smaller ones such as Fayetteville, Ark., and Des Moines, Iowa.

Many of these projects have been coordinated with HD newscast launches, including WCVB-TV, WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh, Pa., and WPEC-TV/WFLX-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla.

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WCVB-TV, Boston

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WPXI-TV, Pittsburgh, Pa.

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WPEC-TV, West Palm Breach, Fla.

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WFLX-TV, West Palm Beach, Fla.

“HD set design presents special challenge because of its 16:9 screen size,” said Mosher-Boulé. FX’s design team needs to pay close attention to how shots line up to ensure good composition in both 16:9 and 4:3 since the majority of viewers still see news in 4:3.

Even if stations don’t debut HD news with their new FX set, many station executives plan to explore the option soon, so all FX sets are designed for HD, said Mosher-Boulé.

At WNCN-TV in Raleigh, FX created a high-tech, flexible set that features multiple standup locations, a working weather center, moveable anchor desks and a view into the newsroom. The set also includes a large, mobile plasma screen array that can be wheeled into various positions around the studio.

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FX also works hard to enhance the entire set design process. This past year, the company unveiled “My FX Group” a dedicated, standalone Web site for clients. This system was custom-built from scratch and consolidates rendering and proof approval and feedback from the station to FX.

Another component of this is the company’s “Shot By Shot Planner,” a storyboarding tool. Using a drag-and-drop interface, clients can plan how each shot on their new set plays a role in their newscasts, and print them to refer back to during rehearsals and meetings, said Mosher-Boulé.

This year at RTNDA@NAB, FX plans to offer a drawing for its upcoming “Digital Backgrounds” product — 3D, rendered chroma key backgrounds for franchise reporting. Plus look for an “eye-popping” HD demo reel at FX’s booth, said Mosher-Boulé.

In the future, look for new styles and layouts from FX’s design studio, said Mosher-Boulé. A series of new sets are coming in the next few months that include new materials, anchor desks and background elements, as well as a unique dynamic newsroom set.

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NAB Show, Set Design

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