Omaha station moves into new facility, debuts new set

As part of a move to a new broadcast facility this summer, Gray Television’s WOWT has debuted a new set from FX Design Group.

In 2021, WOWT announced it would move from its Omaha home of seven decades to a high-rise office building next door that had recently been vacated. The building – known as Blackstone Plaza – was renovated by a local developer, including building out new space for WOWT, which is known on-air as “6 News WOWT.”

Due to structural issues, part of the space WOWT is using as a studio has a support column in the middle of it, something that had to be considered when designing and laying out the set.

This isn’t a rare occurrence — FX dealt with something similar at WTXF in Philadelphia years ago and many other set designers have built around structural elements in buildings, especially as more TV stations transition to being based in office-style buildings that weren’t designed for broadcasting.

Set Design

WOWT

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The solution was to clad the column with a whitewashed brick look with a vertical video panel mounted on it that can be used in various shots, including bumps.

The set had to be carefully positioned around the column because it sits partially in front of a large 6×3 low-profile video wall — which can be shot full width for select segments.

This video wall, framed with color-changing LED, sits camera right of the primary anchor desk area, allowing the far left of it to be used as an alternate anchor position background with topical video or graphics.

The anchor desk is set up in the corner in front of a seamless LED video wall that’s used to showcase cityscape graphics and live views.

Anchors stand at the new desk, which is rather compact (especially coming off years of socially distanced anchors), fronted with the station logo and small segments of frosted panels. 

Camera left of the anchor desk is 3×3 video wall that, much like the one on the other side, can be used to show imagery behind an anchor when he or she moves to the outer position of the desk.

There’s also a weather center with a large monitor behind the presentation desk.

The space also includes two additional areas — a standup area with color-changing backlit walls with a trio of vertically mounted monitors as well as an additional venue with a horizontal monitor on a light wood-toned wall. 

Throughout the space brick, vertical medium-toned wood and horizontal lighter wood finishes can be found. 

On the debut newscast from the new set, WOWT appeared to be making a concerted effort to use its video walls, including having anchors appear in front of the largest one that, during select segments, featured dramatic, full-width video.

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The wall, in addition to the smaller one on the opposite side of the studio, was also used for weather. When the wider of the two was used, the shot could start wide and then zoom in to focus only in an approximately 3×3 area.

At one point a video wall even showed up without an anchor in front of it — though it didn’t appear to be a video on video style shot, but rather either the talent wasn’t in the right place, the shot wasn’t framed correctly or the wrong shot was punched up.

The smaller wall and three monitor area were used for sports, with the color-changing elements shifted to red for Nebraska Cornhuskers football coverage. The red cues could also be used for breaking news. 

In-set lighting was set to blue for most of the evening news, but changed to a bright gold for the morning news.

Traffic was presented from the smaller standup area with the single monitor, which is also a touchscreen, with a special segment on back-to-school traffic shot at the triptych of video monitors, effectively breaking down traffic warnings into three columns of bullet points. 

The traffic area also doubled as a “live desk” in-studio standup area.

Anchors and other in-studio talent were able to interact with each other in more traditional toss shots as well as ones where talent would walk from one of the video walls over to the anchor desk.

Project Credits

  • Set Design – FX Design Group
  • Lighting Design – FX Design Group
  • Tech Integration – Digital Video Group
  • LED Displays – DigiLED
  • Video Displays – Philips, Samsung and Panasonic
  • Video Wall Processing – tvONE

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