Cedar Rapids station’s new set smartly incorporates tech for maximum impact

Gray Television’s KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, debuted a new set that leans more on hard scenic and texture over video walls — with technology integrated where it can have the biggest impact on storytelling and flexibility. 

That’s not to say the new studio from Broadcast Design International is devoid of any video walls; it has two 3×3 55″ LCD arrays along with smaller, standalone units.

The main anchor two-shot features a textured gray wall with a single 82-inch video panel mounted to fall right between the anchor positions.

This wall stretches about two-thirds of the width of the camera center wall from camera left to right, revealing at its end a small alcove created using a combination of a faux stone wall and gray walls with repeating reveal lines.

This area has been carefully lit to bring out the textures and emphasize the on-air look of there being space beyond the primary home base area.

Meanwhile, camera left features a working weather center fronted by a frosted glass wall with silver mullions. The area sports both workstation screens and slightly larger wall-mounted panels. 

Farther back, the space features a 2×3 grid of framed panels with gradient effects, a design decision that creates the suggestion that there’s actually another video wall back there.

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The weather area also features a pole-mounted, 65-inch touchscreen video panel for standups. A camera tucked behind the set’s wall can shoot forecasters presenting from a standing-height workstation. The background here features an asymmetrical wall with the three 55-inch wall-mounted panels mentioned previously, used to showcase data-driven and branded weather graphics.

Camera right, near where the camera-center wall makes way for the alcove, stepped vertically mounted backlit panels with distinct textures create a transition. This leads to a studio standup area with another 65-inch touchscreen on a narrow gray segment and backed with a large stretch of horizontally-lined wall. This video panel can pivot from a horizontal to a vertical orientation. 

Although the backlit panels aren’t technically the right aspect ratio, they are another way to subtly suggest that the surface might actually be LED — when it really isn’t.

Numerous areas of the set are outfitted with color-changing LED lighting, including behind the camera center monitor and various headers and other structural elements, allowing the station to send distinct colors up or down over the textured surfaces. Lighting design and direction for the set was provided by Nicholas Hutak. 

At the center of all of this is a large, curvilinear anchor desk created using a mix of white and gray textures.

The curve contrasts dramatically against the rest of the set’s straight lines — and could be interpreted as either a visual representation of the station’s distinct curved “9” logo or the market’s namesake bodies of water. 

Finally, the space includes a flexible video wall set within a thick off-white frame in front of a faux stacked stone wall with horizontal reveal line accents and additional color-changing lighting tucked in.

The update also added an interview area with another LCD video wall created using 49-inch LCD panels and an additional 65-inch display.

BDI also outfitted the station’s second studio with a second, smaller news desk with an 82-inch display that can be converted to a demonstration or cooking setup as needed. Additional presentation options in the second studio can be created using a cove bottom chroma key area.

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Project Credits

  • Set Design and Fabrication by Broadcast Design International
  • Lighting Design by Nicholas Hutak of Block, Light, Shoot
  • AV Integration by Digital Video Group
  • Monitors from LG, Samsung, Planar

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