‘Today’ debuts from ‘America’s Living Room’

Being billed as “America’s Living Room” by the show’s producers, NBC News took the wraps off the new Studio 1A, home of the venerable “Today” show.

The new set was delayed by a week and also debuted in conjunction with Carson Daly joining the show’s cast — a combination of changes that NBC News hopes will steer the show into better waters.

One of the most significant changes is that the show no longer opens with the anchors with their backs to the windows (which, in turn, are covered by a sliding panel for the opening two shot) — instead, the anchors face the crowd which provides a panoramic view of the rest of the studio in the background.

UPDATE

Also check our coverage of the new ‘Fox & Friends’ set and the tweaks over at ‘GMA,’ both of which launched today as well. Also check out our extensive galleries of the new set and graphics now.

Although not used to the fullest extent on Monday’s show since coanchor Matt Lauer was reporting form the field, the two shot is also designed to take advantage of the large slide down video screen situated above the set’s new, larger sofa.

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To the left of the background is a dark window frame with video panel behind it that is used to show a live feed from outside the studio.

The new arrangement allows the show’s anchors to be fully visible from the outside and producers took advantage of that on Monday’s show by taking a sweeping view of Rockefeller Plaza and then zooming in to shoot the anchors through the glass.

The anchor desk area is also now perched on top of a rotating platform. Low credenzas are situated behind the anchor desk, finished in a light toned wood veer that matches the anchor desk. The anchor desk, meanwhile, is fronted with an orange backlit version of the show’s sunrise logo — but doesn’t include the words “Today.”

The corner of the studio still features a vertical video panel that can be used to create the illusion of a seamless span of glass or for showing topical graphics. A dropdown backdrop with tiled show logos can be lowered from behind the video header that wraps around the corner of the studio.

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The basic layout of the studio, meanwhile, has been modified slightly, with Daly’s “Orange Room” taking over the approximate footprint of the old on on one interview area. This area also includes an interactive Microsoft flatscreen for Al Roker’s forecasts and appears to have a closable panel allowing the Orange Room to be shut off from the rest of the studio. This area is also used for some news update segments.

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The one on one interview area has been shifted over to the middle of the studio close to the sofa area to approximately where the news desk once stood. This area juts out into the studio space with the actual interview facing toward the main anchor area. This area include textured walls mainly finished in metallic golds.

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The sofa, area, meanwhile, now has a larger capacity rust colored sofa that’s backed by the aforementioned slide down video panel. Behind this, in the corner of the studio, vertical slats have color changing lights behind them, allowing the area to have slightly different looks for different uses. On either side of the monitor are two additional dark window panels. The entire area is framed by backlit and white toned columns and angled headers.

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The adjacent production area is dominated by a 16 foot wide by 6 foot tall movable video wall in front of the studio’s longest window span. The units can be joined together to create one seamless picture or moved apart mechanically into up to six segments. The new video panels will give this area significant flexibility — something the show previously accomplished by using a flat screen on cart and gobo lighting effects.

Overall, the new look makes significant inroads of warming up the show’s look and feel — which was previously dominated by whites, glass and silver toned metals.

Decked out in custom furniture and richer textures and colors, the new set does feel more like it’s part of a livable environment — rather than a streamlined, idealized living room of the future.

The previous Studio 1A was definitely starting to look tired and a bit disheveled, having been modified haphazardly on and off over the years — including moving to a new, larger anchor desk while eliminating the separate news desk and adding a variety of other tables and seating options.

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