Norwegian design firm SIXTY conceived all new virtual sets for TV2’s most popular shows using graphics from Vizrt.
TV2, Norway’s largest commercial television station, has stepped up to virtual sets to enhance its on-air look (and to save money) with the help of Norwegian design firm SIXTY.
“At SIXTY, in addition to being responsible for the station’s newsroom set designs we also create their online apps and Web pages,” Aleksander Berg, broadcast producer and project manager for SIXTY told The Broadcast Bridge in a phone interview from Bergen, Norway. “But this time they called us in because they wanted to get away from hard sets to get a modern appearance and also to reduce their storage costs.
SIXTY was asked to deliver virtual environments for two of TV2’s most popular broadcasts: a consumer ombudsman show called "TV2 Hjelper deg" (roughly translated as “TV2 Helps You”) and a nightly entertainment news program, "God Kveld Norge" (roughly translated as “Good Evening Norway”).
The trick was, however, that the station wanted their new virtual sets to look exactly like the previous physical sets.
“TV2 didn’t want the audience to notice the difference”, Berg said, “and they also didn’t want to have to spend time rigging the new sets for lighting or changing the camera positions. We were to make the new green screen studio look just like the old hard sets to the viewers.”
This went right down to the position of reflections and shadows, so Berg decided to use a combination of practical objects inside the computer-generated imagery.
For example, in this still from "God Kveld Norge", the raised white disc podium that host Dorthe Skappel is standing on is real, but the video wall behind her is not.
Still, the presenters can use the set as they are accustomed to, and all the camera moves can be determined ahead of time.
In the same way, regular viewers of “TV2 Hjelper deg” will expect product expert/tester Solveig Barstad to be able to stand behind the familiar practical white and black table just as she always has even if the rest of the set only exists in the RAM of a studio computer.
The graphics engines and software were supplied by Norway-based Vizrt, and the advanced robotic cameras came from Electric Friends who provided a 7-axis robotic camera arm with trajectory and position repeatability to an accuracy of 0.01 mm. As Berg explained, with this level of highly exact mechanical tracking delivering automatic camera movement that can be triggered together with the graphics, a great deal of the production content can be programmed in advance of the broadcast.
“The cameras are controlled by an operator although they are also tracking the room,” Berg explained. “All the pre-determined movements of the cameras become part of the show’s playlist.”
There’s an irony that the Norwegians watching TV2 in their cozy “hytte” are not supposed to notice the difference, but these new virtual sets will be providing extra flexibility as well as budget savings to two of the network’s most popular shows.
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