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Has Virtual’s time arrived?

Funny there are more Virtual scenic companies here at NAB than traditional design companies; this was also true last year with the loss of the RTDNA presence at the Hilton.

The difference this year though is that in talking with Station Engineers and GM’s here at the show, it’s the first time in a long time that they are actually talking about Virtual Systems as a viable option for Local News Production.

Not sure if that’s due to the fact that Virtual has very little traditional competition here at the show or that the systems appear to be much better than in years past at crunching polygons allowing for a more realistic look and as with most Technology the price has continued to drop.

The reasons for considering Virtual or 3 D Digital scenery are numerous, including financial, artistic and environmental benefits.

Financially you will have; reduced fabrication, shipping and on site labor costs during set up, reduced lighting as you will be using one key wall to produce several areas of your set (we do recommend a second key wall be used in addition to your current weather key) reduced scenic footprint in the studio allowing room for production if necessary.

Artistically you will have the option of producing a greater variety of backgrounds which will give your more shot options and can easily be set up as time specific areas, your Sales department may like this as well as they can have backgrounds designed for them for specific Advertiser Sponsored segments.

Environmentally you will be using fewer materials in the construction, less power in lighting and less material for a landfill when you change out next time, thereby reducing your carbon footprint.

A baseline system can be purchased for as low as 10K, with most mid line Trackless single camera systems in the 50k range and a full tracking system for multiple cameras with all the bells and whistles can go for more than 500k.

In addition to the Virtual System Technology costs you will still need to hire a Design company to build your 3 D Environment.

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Some of the companies showcasing their Virtual Systems here at NAB

Hybrid, Vizrt, Newtek, Brainstorm, Chyron and Orad all but one of them are in South Hall lower.


Trackless or Tracking

I haven’t heard from one Local News Station that is considering a fully Virtual Studio at this time and I agree with them that it’s probably not the best option, we are recommending that if you use a lot of motion in your current Newscast and would like to go down the Virtual path that you consider a single camera trackless system that will allow you to keep the same camera blocking you typically use and use it for your franchise areas and possibly your interview area as well.

This can greatly extend your shot making capabilities allowing you to have a variety of different scenic backgrounds with all of the latest technology designed into the sets digitally, including giant RP screens and video walls which if the real technology were purchased on their own would cost more than the Virtual system.

These systems allow you to manipulate a single fixed camera inside the Virtual 3D World including trucks, pans and zooms to add a dynamic look to your Newscast.

3D Digital Design (Augmented Reality)

With many Stations moving towards fixed camera peds greatly reducing the amount of movement in camera shots, for them we are recommending 3 D Digital Designs which allow you to do multiple cameras in a fixed 3 D Digital environment.

The entire environment is designed in 3D with real foreground elements, then individual camera shots are set up and rendered which can then be played back in any sequence you wish.

There is no extra technology to purchase and this can be done while designing your main set elements, this is as simple as keying in your Weather standups.

No matter which of these options you choose FX Design Group can Design the 3 D Digital Environment for you.


Our 3 D Digital Designs can be seen at Booth C6037 and you see all of our Designs at Booth C7243, hope to see you at NAB!


How does the Audience perceive Virtual and 3 D Digital?

That will be one of the areas of focus of our upcoming Magid Study, “Back From The Future! Delivering the News in 2020”.

We are gathering information at NAB this year and asking questions of Station Management on what questions will be most important for them to have answers to as we move forward.

If you would like to participate you can drop by our Booth C7243, come to our co-presentation “Back From The Future! Delivering the News in 2020” here at NAB with Marv Danielski, VP of Frank N. Magid & Associates on Thursday the 19th at 9am in S225 or drop us a note at FXStudy@fxgroup.tv



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