WXII Illuminates News Set With Brightline LED Fixtures

WXII, the NBC affiliate owned by Hearst Television serving North Carolina’s Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point market used almost 40 Brightline L1.2 and L1.4 LED SeriesONE studio light fixtures to light its new set.

The new scenic environment, designed by Devlin Design Group, was the first complete overhaul of the WXII news studio in almost 20 years. While there are modern desks and monitors, the set also includes stacked natural stone accents, wood-look flooring, and a backdrop highlighting the region’s Sauratown Mountains.

Dan McKenrick, who served as lighting designer for the project, said beyond the warmer tone of the set, understanding shot blocking and the impact of social distancing on talent locations were crucial to providing an ideal visual result. He had to light for two separate blocking scenarios, one designed around COVID-19 restrictions and another for “normal” newscasts in the future. The WXII anchor desk can easily accommodate four people, but the station’s current newscasts separate the on-camera talent due to social distancing.

“I look at the set overall and decide how to add dimension and balance,” he explained. “I’m very much looking at the mechanics of the room. The particular set, the shape of the room, and the grid height and camera type determine how you’re going to make it work.”

For WXII’s daylight balanced (5600K) set, McKenrick used Brightline L1.4 lights and L1.2 lights to create the base lighting. The L1.2s were used mostly as side fills, while the L1.4s were positioned at the front. He also added Lupo Day LED fresnels to create crisp lighting for eight specific talent positions around the set, which created a balance of soft and hard sources. He said one of the advantages of using LED lighting fixtures on a news set is a more extensive dimming range without color temperature change, which provides better control for the diversity of skin tones.

“Brightlines are very effective. They put out a substantial amount of light and it’s controllable,” he added.

One challenge for the WXII set was avoiding reflection on a wide array of nine LED monitors positioned vertically behind the anchor desk. McKenrick said the monitors feature a slightly diffused front glass and are mounted with a slight forward tilt to help control reflections. Plus, he positioned the lights on the grid at a specific angle to light the talent without reflecting on the monitor. “Getting that angle is always part of the adventure of working on the logistics of the lighting layout,” he said. 

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