TNT creates studio inspired by the environment for NHL coverage with unique projection mapping tech

The puck drops on a new era for the NHL as the league moves to ESPN and Turner Sports this season under a multi-year broadcast rights deal.

For Turner Sports, it represents a unique opportunity to bring TNT’s signature style and production values to the league, having not been a broadcast partner before.

A first-of-its-kind set has been built for the “NHL on TNT” coverage in Studio F at Turner Studios in Atlanta, which previously housed the “MLB on TBS” set before its move to Studio D.

“We really wanted to do something unprecedented and really make a splash with our broadcast,” said Steve Fiorello, VP, coordinating director, Turner Sports. “We wanted something that embodied the NHL but also has the Turner kind of feel to it as well.”

To create this unique feel, the set design channels the look of a modern stadium with larger-than-life display technology and streaks of light combined with the elements of hockey, such as ice, sweat and steam. This also ties into the larger branding theme of TNT’s design system, known as black ice.

Studio F for the “NHL on TNT.” Photos courtesy of Jeremy Freeman/Turner Sports.

Working with Jack Morton Worldwide, the set also has a few tricks that allow it to evolve with TNT’s coverage.

“The set has taken on a life of its own and can grow and evolve as the energy of the season builds,” said Andre Durette, SVP, group design director,
Jack Morton.

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Projection mapping technology, often seen at events and in theatre, has been integrated inside the studio – along with a variety of lighting cues from The Lighting Design Group’s Niel Galen – to allow the set to quickly transform looks.

This system, which has not been seen on a sport set before, uses eight Barco projectors with angular lenses mounted in the lighting grid to create a 360-degree canvas across the set’s walls and floor with rendering from a Disguise server.

“The studio has nearly 28 million projected pixels to play with and 220,000 lumens of light output, along with really effective scenic elements to map,” said Joshua Weisberg, president of Navolo Audio-Video, who provided the projection layout and modeling.

The inspiration for this unique collaboration came from research in the event world, where an unveiling for a car caught Fiorello’s eye. This event paired display technology and projection mapping to create a variety of unique effects.

Fiorello noted how the car company was able to transform a small space through the projection mapping to make the car appear to be in motion, something they hope to also capture inside the studio.

“One of the unique things about the projection mapping is it’s tied to all of the LED (display technology) that we have on the set,” said Fiorello. “All the projection mapping and the LEDs speak to each other. So if there’s an effect in the LED wall, it’s going to affect the projection mapping as well and all the graphics that are being projected onto the wall.”

On the design side, nodes to hockey are worked into the studio space from subtle hockey-styled elements to the shape of the set itself, which mirrors that of an ice rink.

Rendering of Studio F, courtesy of Jack Morton Worldwide.

Studio F includes over 1,000 square feet of LED tiles with the two primary screens at 1.57mm pixel pitch. Fronting one of these displays is the main anchor desk, which utilizes custom LED titles and edge-lit “ice shards” with a hockey stick-shaped surround. 

The set’s walls feature varying shades of grey with subtle reveals to add light effects on texture micro-patterning.

Two tracking 86 inch monitors provide further flexibility for bump shots while a 45-degree “crack” reveals another LED display for standups.

“We really feel and hope that viewers at home view this set and the talent … as the new home of the NHL,” said Fiorello.

“I think what we’ve done in the design and the approach was very much collaborative. We really reached out to all different types of media to find that unique blend of what we do at Turner and something unique that represents the NHL.”

Project Credits

Turner Sports
Craig Barry- EVP/Chief Content Officer
Steve Fiorello – VP, Coordinating Director
Morgan Weinbrecht Thomas – Studio Director
Sarah Phillips- Director, Production Mgmt
Joanie Barry – Production Manager, Studio
Quentin Johnson – Sr Technical Mgr, Live Events
Gabriel Lopez – Director, BIT
Brad Childers- LEAD BIT ENGINEER
Ryan Gilger- BIT Engineer, BEST Studios

Set Design – Jack Morton Worldwide
Andre Durette – Production Designer
Alison Zullo – Co-Production Designer/Art Director
Chris Maroney – Illustration Art Director
Raeford Dwyer – Graphic Design Art Director

Fabrication – Turner Scenic and Blackwalnut
Lighting Design – The Lighting Design Group (LDG)
AV Integration – GrantAV
Projection System Design – Navolo Audio – Video
Content Integration) – Meptik

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