‘CBS Evening News’ overhauls its on-air look, sound

The “CBS Evening News” unveiled new graphics and music Aug. 29, 2022 that bring the network’s signature evening newscast’s look in line with the look and feel of the rest of its productions.

The redesign has its roots in a rebranding strategy that launched in 2020 and is centered around “deconstructing” its iconic eye logo.

Since then, the flatter look that embraces the shapes found in the eye icon has rolled out to the network’s promos as well as other CBS News productions, including “CBS Mornings,” “Face the Nation” and the CBS News Streaming Network

The notable holdout had been “Evening News,” which had stuck with the look it debuted in December 2019 when it moved to Washington, D.C. along with anchor Norah O’Donnell.

That look centered heavily on the Ridley Grotesk typeface along with a checkerboard motif that also prominently showcased D.C. imagery.

In the new graphics package, D.C. references are largely limited to a photo in the new open, which was obtained exclusively by NewscastStudio ahead of its launch.

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This ‘before’ image shows the video wall graphics with Washington, D.C. imagery on them, in addition to the bright blue vertical element and simulated monitor walls. This design also featured a brighter shade of blue than what was introduced Aug. 29, 2022.

Previously, the broadcast used a variety of D.C.-centric imagery in both its open and on-set video walls, including a stylized view of the Capitol Rotunda’s exterior and long exposure nighttime shot of a busy road.

In the redesign, the primary video wall background is a world map element, rendered to appear as a 3D element that extrudes from the background as if it is a dimensional element mounted on a wall and accented with satellite image-inspired lights from major cities and a few sparkly accents thrown in (those sparkles are also used as an animated transition after the new open runs).

The map element moves from left to right on a loop behind O’Donnell’s primary one-shot, which is used to introduce the majority of stories and the entire background is done in a deeper, more sophisticated blue than what was used before.

Above the map is a simulated structural header with recessed lighting and vertical glass-like panel with city names. Together, these elements combine to create a virtual set extension of sorts.

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To the right of the map is a large, extruded CBS eye ringed with animated segments. For story intros, the eye can animate out in favor of a topical image and headline appearing on the video wall in OTS-style.

A series on concentric curved elements separate the topical image from the map element to the left and the look is largely similar in concept to how the broadcast’s previous video wall OTSs were done, including the on-air camera adjust. 

In addition to imagery that takes up the entire inside of the circular element, the network also has the option to use a container with curved left side to show a headshot or other smaller image if something wider isn’t available or appropriate.

Video wall text is set in TT Norms, the typeface CBS uses across various divisions, which is also used in the updated “Evening News” logotype.

It’s also found in the broadcast’s new lower thirds, which have switched to the same layout used on the CBS News Streaming Network. This means the overall design is now wider, though the box devoted to the broadcast logo takes up a good portion of the left-hand side.

Notably, neither “Mornings” or “Face the Nation” use this layout (despite using the deconstructed eye look), with each show instead having its own, distinct L3 designs.

The horizontal version lockup of the “Evening News” logo used in the corner has larger lettering for “CBS,” which also allows the neighboring eye to match up with the position of smaller lower-left corner bug that CBS introduced in the fall of 2021.

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“Evening” had been using the new bug, but did not integrate its insert graphics directly with it before the August redesign.

Headlines now appear in a dark blue rectangular box to the right of the logo box in TT Norms, which often becomes condensed due to the amount of text in it. That’s largely due to the width of that logo box, which often feels as though it is competing for visual attention with the banner text.

In an attempt to get as much text in as possible, the left and right margins of the blue rectangle don’t match the top and bottom ones, a small detail that, combined with the comparatively small size of the lower third typography and large logo box, feels like a bit of a miss.

To the far right of the blue bar is a background element that uses a series of overlapping shapes from the deconstructed eye concept.

Like with the streaming news service, the logo box can also get an additional tier added above it, which ranges from “Breaking News” to “New Details” to franchise or segment names.

The blues used throughout the insert and video wall graphics range from a darker one with hints of gray and black to brighter highlights. It’s distinguishable from ABC’s “World News Tonight” lighter blue-gray lower thirds. The base shade is similar to what “NBC Nightly News” uses, though CBS’s lacks the violet gradients and gold accents. 

For headlines and teases, the broadcast switches to using a condensed, bold sans serif that is also used for video wall graphics on the streamer. This layout does not feature the logo box, with the logo instead running along the bottom of the screen in a white bar. The top of the show uses an all blue bar with both the world map and eye pieces in the background.

These graphics can also get an additional tier of text atop the main blue box, which is semi-transparent and features the deconstructed eye pieces to the right. There’s also a slight laser-line lighting accent that animates across the top of the graphic.

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The new look’s circular theme is incorporated into the headline teases thanks to an animated wipe that appears between each story.

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There is another animated wipe element that uses the center portion of the eye icon as its base, with elements entering via a variety of circular-animations before zooming through the logotype to the next clip.

The new look is also extended to a video wall graphic that’s used for three voiceover-only stories that comprise an entire block mid-show.

During this segment, which does not have a formal name but has the feel of “rundown” or “index”-style segments used on and off across TV news, features O’Donnell standing in front of the anchor desk with three curved segments — one dedicated to each story.

Topical imagery is placed inside of each segment, which have a somewhat uneven shape. The current story appears in full color, while the other two are ghosted out with a blue overlay.

Another core element of the new look is the use of virtual set extensions both on the studio’s larger, seamless video walls as well as the alcoves in each corner of the set.

The corners typically showcase the image of white chairs and computer workstations that appear to be situated near a windowed control room, which, in turn, features a blue-tinted monitor wall.

Also visible are simulated columns and wall segments that appear to be clad with oversized CBS eye imagery, similar to elements found in Studio 57 in New York.

There’s also a larger version that can be fed to the video wall directly opposite the one used as O’Donnell’s primary backdrop that has a strategically placed version of the broadcast’s title card displayed on the virtual wall.

Previously, the studio corners typically showcased simulated monitor walls that evoked a control room-like feel. These did not, however, feature any suggestion of additional structure or space beyond, so were not what most would consider true set extensions.

Meanwhile, an additional graphic features the stacked show logo seemingly mounted on a blue wall with header and downlighting with a hint of the vertical slat walls found on the streaming network set in New York. To the left is about half of an oversized CBS eye, with its segments subtly swaying back and forth.

The graphics also featured simulated wood accents that appeared to be inspired by those slat walls, including running along the bottom of one wall and bordering the center of the main studio riser that’s outfitted with LED video floor tiles.

With “Evening News” adding VSEs, it now shares that element in common with “Face the Nation,” which uses the same set and has used the concept since moving into the space in December 2019.

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For the kicker Aug. 29, O’Donnell moved again to a standing position and the camera captured two video walls and one alcove displaying their default looks.

As she began to introduce the story, a multifaceted left-to-right ring-themed animation started on the far camera left video wall that revealed imagery from the story. It extended into the alcove and then continued on to the other video wall. The trigger for the second animation was slightly delayed, creating a domino-like effect to the look.

The end result was two distinct topical images taking up the entire span of the visible video wall segments. 

In addition to the visual changes, the broadcast also got updates to its music.

The theme introduced when the broadcast moved to Washington is gone, replaced with one inspired by a classic 1987 version originally created by Trivers-Myers Music. 

The new version was created by AntFood, which is also responsible for other sonic branding elements on CBS, including the variations of the five-note mnemonic used across various divisions of the company.

The new theme is heavy on the drums and horns and also includes an updated headline bed.

The open itself now features a longer animated segment before the announce, which appears to have remained the same, giving the music more of chance to shine. 

The high, wide view of the studio that previously was shown as the announcer finished speaking has been eliminated in favor of a single ultra-wide shot of the set that pushes in to become the one-shot with video wall OTS. 

With the new open, the announcer’s “reporting from the nation’s capital” line now runs immediately following the title card as that shot begins its move. 

Audio updates also include the eliminate of the quick, three-note tune at the very top of the show, replaced instead with a sequence inspired by the main theme.

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