More views, video of ‘Nightly’ set in use

NBC’s flagship “Nightly News” moved to a new home Monday night, Studio 3B in Rockefeller Center.

The show’s opening shot places anchor Brian Williams in a standing position in front of the desk, with the date visible on the desk’s video panels. The large rear project screen to the right initially displays the show’s logo and is then incorporated into the teases.

While the broadcast’s old teases that were created as large OTS-style graphics that attempted to look somewhat structural, video clips on the new screen with a superimposed title give combine to create an effective shot.

That same screen can be used to project both topical graphics and a generic background. Similar to the old studio, NBC chose a control room image, though the image has been replaced. The new image features a control room monitor wall at a slightly off-axis angle with some faux frosted NBC peacocks superimposed. A header with the “Nightly News” logo appears toward the top, but doesn’t appear in tighter one-shots.


Overall, the colors in the image are a bit more muted and even tend to skew toward the pastel end of the spectrum.

Overall, the new look is a step up from the slightly over-saturated control room background the broadcast used to use. In addition, doing away with the faux wood paneling and metal framing that the old studio used was a good decision since that look always appears a bit too fake.

The new set also seems to accommodate guests a bit better. Guests on the old set always seemed to be kind of shoved against one wall with some lighting gear coming oddly close to their heads. The positioning of the guest chair also required somewhat limiting camera angles in the block featuring the guest.

When guests are shown in a one-shot, they are backed by the video wall that connects the “Nightly News” set with the “Rock Center” area. The background used here is a video loop of Times Square, with the bright yellow “Lion King” theater clearly visible. Since these walls are video, there is also the possibility to include topical or branded graphics and it will be interesting to see if NBC opts for that in the future when a cityscape background might not be as appropriate.

Instead of a large window overlooking the NBC News newsroom (which would be physically impossible due to how the third floor of Rockefeller Center is laid out), NBC uses a large multi-panel video wall.

This wall can be used to project a video loop of the same view the old studio had (see above) but also gives the flexibility of showing a topical graphic, as shown below.

The broadcast also contains some wide views of the studio, which make no attempt to hide the “Rock Center” area of the studio. In fact, that area is fully lit and integrated well into the set. Note that the backlit strips in the columns and ceiling elements are more a white tone, while the internally lit cubes suspended from the ceiling are blue. Other images of that area of the set indicate, not surprisingly, that those elements can change color.


One of the most interesting aspects of the new studio, however, is the fact that it’s essentially the same layout as the old “Nightly” studio, albeit reversed and with some minor changes such as backlit panels in place of the doors leading to the newsroom.

With as much as NBC News likes to experiment with sets and other production values, it’s interesting that producers didn’t opt to create a new look. Of course, perhaps the old set’s basic design was well received by both management and viewers and NBC didn’t want to “rock the boat,” so to speak.

Indeed, most of the changes to the set seem to either be ones made out of necessity (such as not having a real newsroom next door) or improve upon weaker aspects of the previous set, such as the larger desk that accommodates guests better.