Up front: Great options for anchor desk monitors

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Placing monitors on the front of the anchor desk is a popular set design technique, but these monitors are rarely used to their full potential. While the monitors are useful to individually brand each show, too often logos are all they end up displaying. Since you’ve spent the money on the flat panel, it’s a shame to not use it for more — so be on the lookout for opportunities

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Displaying data One common technique is using your monitor to display information such as stock data, lottery numbers or news tip hotline numbers on air in conjunction with wide shots of the set during bumps into commercials. Be aware, however, of the readability of the textfed to the screen. You may find an alternate design is needed, or make use of a fade to a fullscreen version of the graphic halfway through the shot so that viewers can read it clearly. Storytelling Many stations also feed relevant video to the monitor in a wide two-shot, so viewers can see the clip playing while anchors intro the story. Here again, however, it is important to keep legibility in mind, making sure that viewers can discern what the image is despite its relatively small size. Other options Topical graphics Also, instead of video, full-screen topical graphics can be fed to the monitor for individual franchises. These images can be shown in wide push-in shots as anchors introduce the segment or during a wide toss shot to the reporter handling the story. Phoners Another option is to use the monitor during phoners when anchors are on screen to pose questions, since this provides a bit of variety in shot selection. Beauty shots Anchor desk monitors are also a great way to show up some of your videographers’ best work while also showing off current weather conditions and seasonal imagery. These can be worked in during weather tosses or going into or coming out of commercial breaks. Teases Consider using your anchor desk monitor as a way to tease upcoming segments and stories. One common technique is to start with a wide shot of the anchors on set as they begin to read the teases and then zoom into the monitor, which can be showing related video. Another technique, if your set is equipped with multiple on-screen monitors, is to incorporate camera moves from one monitor to another as each of the teases are read in order. Reopens and promos Anchor desk monitors can also be a great way to add some visual interest to newscast standbys such as reopens, news tip hotline announcements or teases. Toss shots Anchor desk-mounted flat panels typically show up prominently in toss shots, so look for opportunities to make use of the screen in these situations. Of course, a simple full-screen graphic is always an option, but there are alternatives. For example, a radar loop can be fed to the screen for a weather toss, a technique that not only brands the segment as weather, but provides a subtle opportunity to add some additional visual interest and information. Technical considerations Obviously, to accomplish these techniques, your anchor desk monitor will need to be wired to the control room so video and graphics playback can be fed to it. Adding a flat panel to the front of the anchor desk is a fairly inexpensive and easy way to add some life to an old set, but be sure to check if the control room has the technical ability to feed the monitor. Graphic designers It’s also important to ensure you have the staff in place to generate the extra graphics and video clips that may be needed. You’ll also need to develop a workflow for producers to request graphics, how the image will be selected or designed and how it will be inputted into the appropriate playback systems. In some situations, such as for weekend news, where staffing concerns might cause issues with getting graphics produced, you may want to consider eliminating using the anchor desk monitor or developing a library of stock imagery that can be drawn upon.