‘ET’ layers display tech in new studio

Syndicated “Entertainment Tonight” debuted a new home at the start of its 41st season that uses three distinct approaches to video display technology to create a splashy new look.

The new set, from designer James Pearse Connelly, boasts multiple venues and combines vertical mounted standalone panels with floor-to-ceiling seamless video walls as well as a layered, reflective take on the traditional LED installation.

The new set replaces the one installed in 2014 on Stage 4 at CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles. 

Where the old set was angular by rather compact, the new one is sprawling and has a much more open feel to it. 

Much of the set is wrapped in a purposefully plain header element that, in one corner, has the words “Entertainment Tonight” spelled out with dimensional letters with integration color-changing lighting (in some of the original photos released by CBS Media Ventures, the lettering was in a serif that looked like the “ET” icon but it was since changed out to a sans serif).

Under the lettering is a corner that includes three vertically mounted panels with a backlit wall framed with a grid. Camera right of this is a video wall that has a matching grid installed on top of it, creating the suggestion of a window. 

This grid is deeper than it is wide, but thanks to a unique material used to create the frame, imagery displayed on it is still partially visible through the structure, even when it’s shot off axis. 

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To the right of this is one of two floor to ceiling seamless media walls, positioned between two risers with curved stairs. Camera right of this LED installation is a matching grid “window.”

The side of the side is enhanced by a large, motorized internally lit frame that can move back and forth fairly quickly, adding another layer and the analogy of “framing” stories in a dynamic, every changing way.

Continuing around the space, there is an additional seamless video wall installation that can double as a sit down interview area. 

There are then two decorative walls that help device the studio space from the adjacent newsroom, though these haven’t appeared on camera yet because most “ET” editorial staffers are still working from home.

All of the on set video technology is enhanced by a combination of a glossy floor, which reflects video clips and graphics fed to the LED panels.

The show frequently combines on camera moves and toss-style shots between talent that incorporate two or more video panels. 

The trio of vertical panels can be used to showcase red carpet fashion shots, magazine covers and “over the years” type imagery to accommodate whatever is being discussed.

There is also the option to use a variety of simulated scenic views on the panels, including a stylized Hollywood sign illustration. Additional options include repeating text of the show name and oversized, top to bottom renditions of the “ET” letters that, create an eye-catching look thanks to the shapes former by the negative space between letters.

The new set expands significantly on the show’s ability to use set video walls. While its old set had several, they were comparatively smaller and also weren’t all seamless.

In many ways, this is a noteworthy change that puts “ET” more in line with the look used at rival “Access Hollywood,” though each show’s creative teams have found distinct ways to create video wall graphics.

“ET” tends to use more fullscreen video and imagery as opposed to how “Access” frequently uses its multiple expansive video walls to create sweeping scenic views with topical imagery and text overlaid. 

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The overall aesthetic between the shows is decidedly different as well. “Access,” whose set was also designed by the team at JPConnelly, features warm woods and contemporary design elements to create a space that manages to feel a bit warmer, whereas “ET” dials up the glitz and glam with all those shiny, reflective surfaces. 

In addition to the new studio, which will start to be used across the “Entertainment Tonight” empire, including its “ET Live” streaming and digital brand, the show also has an updated newsroom thanks to a major renovation that was done at the same time as the set install.

While the renovations were being done, “ET” hosted its shows from a variety of venues, including around L.A. and on location near major entertainment industry events. 

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