‘5 Things’ brings a fast paced first look at the news to CNN+

5 Things” with Kate Bolduan is billed as a fast-paced news summary catching viewers up on overnight news and looking forward to the news “they need to know” for the day ahead.

Airing weekdays at 7 a.m. eastern, the show had the honor of being the first-ever live program on CNN+ on the morning of Tuesday, March 25, 2022.

The show uses a “count up” format, with five stories numbers one through five and then a final kicker item billed as “one last thing.”

“5 Things” originates from CNN’s previous digital studio inside 30 Hudson Yards that was retrofitted for CNN+ programming. 

CNN+ released an episode of the show on March 24, 2022, but it was taped. It’s likely that the network has been producing full-fledged versions of its live programming as dress rehearsals for at least some time now, so it may have had an edition ready to go.

The show is shot inside Studio 21W on a small set with dual floor-to-ceiling video walls arranged at a 90-degree angle with one segment integrated into the floor and jutting up against a portion of the wall. This unique arrangement allows graphics to freely flow from the floor to the walls.

In keeping with the fast-paced tone, Bolduan remains standing for the entire show, including walking toward the camera at the top of the show and quickly exiting the set at the end, presumably off to the next big story.

Because there is very little hard scenic, the show is heavily graphics-driven and makes use of a subtly-3D blocky pattern in multiple colors.

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Stories one and five both use red, while No. 2 uses blue, No. 3 yellow and No. 4 green. “One Last Thing” uses white, as do fullscreens used throughout the show and video wall graphics in the intro and outro.

These shots also feature a wide view of the LED array, with strips of color on the floor panels with the numbers one to five shown in a format that is somewhat reminiscent of a “Price is Right” game.

Wide views with quick moves are used throughout the show, including when transitioning from one story to another, which tends to happen on air, volleying back and forth between walls.

With the corner video wall setup, Bolduan is able to introduce one story, with its corresponding colored background, on one wall. When that wraps up, the graphics switch to a color coded “5 Things” look while the camera zooms in to frame her against the opposite side of the space for the next story.

All stories use colored 3D block patterns on the video walls that form a sort of virtual wall that appears to have a smaller video screen inset, though in reality this is all driven by graphics. 

Between the two “walls” is a muted black and white segment with repeating text of the show’s logo along with a simulated blocky column that changes colors as stories change as well.

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Each story also gets a lively fullscreen, letterboxed stinger animation with the number set in a stylish serif inside of a box. The background is filled with color coded blocks with dot matrix accents and quick accents that include hand-drawn style lines, scribbles and other dots.

Meanwhile, the video wall graphics feature a quick box-themed entrance animation.

During these transitions, the opposite video wall typically becomes black with colored lettering with a repeating stack of animated typography in a mix of solid and outline format.

For lower thirds, the show uses a bold boxy look that includes the story number along with a colored topical flag and a large white box with thick black border for the primary text. 

Stories themselves can include a mix of voiceovers from Bolduan, a brief interview with a correspondent or contributor shown in split screen or fullscreen explainer graphics, giving producers the flexibility to use various storytelling tools as appropriate.

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The show also features a quick open that showcases the numbers on through five with quasi-topical imagery behind them with the accompanying color coding as well as the date.

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At the end of the show, Bolduan signs off with the line “Those are the five things you need to know to get your day going … so get going,” which sums up the program’s goal and adds a reference to the network’s “Go there” tagline.

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